Monday, December 14, 2009

My Two Cents

Start the week with something inspirational and end it in a rant and the week is a downer. But, start the week on a rant and end it with something inspirational and the week builds to a crescendo.

Today a rant, with the promise of something inspirational before the week is out.

Friday afternoon I visited Borders to buy a book. The man beside me was buying a stuffed animal and was being checked out by a woman in her late-thirties.

His stuffed animal came to $9.73. He must have given the clerk a $20.00 bill, but not before she made the fatal error of opening her register before calculating change. Note the sarcasm in my voice. Flustered, the clerk scurried down two registers and pleaded with my salesperson to help her calculate change. "I was an English major," she joked. "I don't do math."

Here's the rant...

I've worked in higher education for a number of years... and so have many of you. Even if you haven't worked in higher education... don't you think the average American should be smart enough to make change? Shouldn't there be a limit to how little we can know when we graduate from high school - never mind college.

Say yes or our standing as an educated nation is in jeopardy.

If the stuffed animal is $9.73
plus $0.02 = $9.75
$0.75 plus $.0.25 = $10.00
$10.00 + $10.00 = $20.00

$10.27. That's how much change he should have gotten.

This former History and Political Science major implores you to find just one child and to teach her how to make change.

For that matter, tell us - what else is it imperative we teach our children? The difference between laid and lain? When to use "me" versus "I"? How to read an analog clock, versus a digital clock? The seven continents (yes, I know there is discrepancy as to whether there are actually 5, 6, 0r 7 continents)?

Tell us. Our nation's standing depends on it.

Signing off until tomorrow...


Heather said...

How to write, address and mail a REAL piece of mail!

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

Wow, but good one!

What else?

Peggy said...

Not to defend stupidity.... but when I worked at McDonalds in the early 80's our registers didn't 'give' change. There were times when the registers went out.. and we had to do things manually.... it was nerve racking doing math in front of someone.... and you have to take into consideration PhDs, MBA's and BS, BAs don't aspire to work retail.

It was hard when someone (smartass) gave you a $20, $1 and a penney for a $10.26 order, you're like, what?

Okay, how about people walking in the parking lot down the middle of the aisle, and never looking up to see cars trying to get by them?

Or people who stop in the middle of aisle or walkway and just abrubtly turn around and walk back the way they came, not considering people are behind them?

While aiding in 7th grade 2 years ago, my first few days I wrote something cursive on the white board and was told by the teacher the kids can't read cursive. They learn how to write it, but after that... everything they read, type, or write is basic print.

The mail thing and the change thing should all be part of civics... which I think is totally lost as a subject in school.... How to live in the real world with manners, respect, responsibility, and accountability for ones self!

Times up!

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

I concur with Peggy. When I was a kid and worked retail, the registers did not make change for you. You had to calculate it on your own (like laces versus velcro).

Suddenly I realize I am sounding like a crabby old person! Yikes.

The Fipps family said...

It drives me up a wall, when kids say cousint, instead of cousin...

AND when my teenager "doesn't need to learn how to spell" simple words, because his laptop has spell check.

AND what happened to good old fashioned Christmas cards?? Are we SO busy that we have to send out a bulk email to our family and friends to wish them a Happy Holiday?!?! I always ask my kids to sign our cards- Christmas, birthday, Mother's Day- I think they need to show they care... more than the click of a button on the computer.

Cheryl said...

Bob Dylan sang way back in 1963:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

I'm sure she felt foolish not knowing how to calculate the change and it must have been annoying to have to wait but maybe someone could have spoken up and said, Let's do this together...

How many of us can write in short hand? A very common skill that was taught before computers. It's now obsolete.

Common courtesies and etiquettes I can accept that everyone should learn and we can all teach that by being an example to others whether they are our children or not. :)

One thing is for sure... times are always changing.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

I have a bachelor's degree (history), and I worked as a manager in a bookstore for 4 years. I was the event planner, and only worked the register during the holiday season (mid-Oct to early Jan for retail). I would say that I'm decent at math, but after several hours of ringing registers, grumpy/smartass/angry customers (not all, but quite a few), and all the noise that accompanies retail establishments, I could barely remember my name, much less remember how to add and subtract. It is so easy to get flustered in front of customers, especially when you know they're judging you - not just on your math skills but also on how you bag their items, your education level and whether you can read their minds in general. A lot of customers assumed that I was an idiot based on the fact that I was behind the register. The assumption in our society often is that if you're working retail or food service it's because you can't get a better job - even if you're taking the job for a little extra income during the holidays or during a break in school or whatever. I agree that what the clerk said was unfortunate (of course English majors should know how to add and subtract), but she could have been frazzled and trying to cover it with a joke.

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

All... good points and I LOVE that so many of you (and new folks) are speaking up. It is true she could have been flustered and, for goodness sake, I get flustered plenty.

Maybe today's rant is more about helping others foster a sense of confidence/composure, so that customers waiting in line doesn't evoke a sense of stress.

I don't know.

Bottom line. We can shine when capabilities and confidence meet up!

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

I'm still going out on a limb to say, we should be able to add and subtract in order to make change.

Cheryl said...

Yes, you would think that an older 30's something would be able to do some basic math but I'm sure she can mark up a grammar paper. I just know she is good at something. Was this the Borders at Hwy 26 & Hall Johnson? Come on, Claudia- throw her a bone! Surely you noticed something good about her. She had nice hair? Wearing a cute sweater? ha ha.

I didn't answer your question about what I feel is imperative to teach my children... never stop learning. Even at the old age of late thirty something. Maybe that gal learned how to make change on Friday. Maybe she'll never learn.

Danko Family said...

To add onto what Heather said...what has happened to handwritten thank you notes? I got a text message saying "thanks for the wedding was cool" I mean, really? It was a hand-made piece of pottery that I spent like 4 hours on...and I get a text???

Also, I wish I had learned the value of money, investing, credit cards, etc a lot sooner than college. I've never had a problem with spending, but I think I could have been smarter about investing at a younger age.

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

Cheryl... in my own defense the last comment I posted was on the heels of Katie's post that somehow got deleted. - Not just me continuing to spout off.

Yes, I am sure the woman at Borders has any number of positive qualities. Countless. Maybe even more than I could add (or subtract).

And still... this unforgiving woman is willing to assert that, despite the countless attributes of the Borders clerk, making change still would not require a calculator.

Gladly have the last word of today's rant. I've beaten this dead horse.

Anonymous said...

Don't use a k at the end of a word. Goink is not a work going is. Don't put an L where it does not belong. Draw is not drawl, unless you have a drawl and must draw pictures to make yourself understood. LOL

Kate's mom