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Danno
09-25-2008, 04:01 PM
I'm going to again preface this by saying that I personally suck at math. Lately though, the ol' custard stand has had a few customers that make me realize my math skills could be much, much worse.

Incident 1:

Customer: I need two of your $3.95's. How much will that be?

A sort of humorous question, but what really made it strange was that he was holding a five dollar bill while asking this. When informed that the cost of his order would be just a dime short of eight dollars, he seemed surprised and dismayed that he'd have to pull his wallet back out and dig for more money.

Incident 2:

Happened to a coworker, but I got to witness the fun. A woman pulled up in drive-thru and ordered a sundae. When questioned whether she'd like whipped cream, she asked the difference in price.

Customer: How much is it without the cream?
Coworker: $3.50.
Customer: And with?
Coworker: $4.00.
Coworker: Ah, so the whipped cream would be 20% of the price. Naw, I'll pass on it.

Again, I suck at math but gradeschool division told me that fifty cents is 1/8 of the four dollars, not 1/5 or 20%. Whatever, I've had bigger brain farts myself and didn't really hold it against her. Then came the punchline.

Coworker: You're pretty good at math.
Customer: (Big smile) Thank you, I'm a math teacher.

She drove away happily, and I somehow restrained myself from asking which school to avoid...

RecoveringKinkoid
09-25-2008, 04:27 PM
Coworker: You're pretty good at math.
Customer: (Big smile) Thank you, I'm a math teacher.

.


:runaway:

You know, I can't even commiserate with you on the idea,for instance, that someone might not be able to figure out that five bucks is less than two times 3.95. Or how percentages work. Me? Not real plugged into the whole fractions thing, to say the least. I know a lot of really, really smart people that dont' honestly don't understand how that works. Can't understand it, really.

However, none of them are math teachers. :eek:

:lol:

Danno
09-25-2008, 06:27 PM
I'm pretty bad at doing quick math in my head; I usually need to write things down if it involves carrying digits. However I'm fortunate to work in a place where every price ends in 0 or 5 and there's rarely tax, so the math is usually easy. ...Not that I have to do very much of it.

Customers sometimes ask questions like "How much would three ____ cost," and when I give a quick answer they think I'm good at math. No, I'm just average at memorization; I've heard combinations like three cones or two shakes so many times that the prices have stuck in my head.

nomorecarts
09-25-2008, 10:29 PM
Customer: How much is it without the cream?
Coworker: $3.50.
Customer: And with?
Coworker: $4.00.
Coworker: Ah, so the whipped cream would be 20% of the price. Naw, I'll pass on it.



no ma'am, it would be 12.5%. 20% would be 80 cents unless you mean of the $3.50, then it would be 14.28% 20% of that would be 70 cents. would you like a calculator to verify?. I feel sorry for the servers at restaurants she eats at

Evil Queen
09-26-2008, 02:15 AM
OH MY GOD! Was that my third grade math teacher?!

I've never recovered my math skills, I'm terrible, I just blank. -_-

SpyOne
09-26-2008, 12:55 PM
:runaway:

You know, I can't even commiserate with you on the idea,for instance, that someone might not be able to figure out that five bucks is less than two times 3.95. Or how percentages work. Me? Not real plugged into the whole fractions thing, to say the least. I know a lot of really, really smart people that dont' honestly don't understand how that works. Can't understand it, really.


I can help with that a little, I think.
My brother is fond of saying that with math, the key is to break the problem down into problems you do know the answer to.
I'm always saying "don't do more work than you have to." :)
3.95 is almost 4, right? What's 4 times 2? (it's the same as 4 plus 4, which is 8.) Now, is 5 more than 8? No. Is it even close? No. So, you don't need to bother working out what 3.95 times two is: it's more than 5.


I thought that the customer in question was asking about tax, right up until I heard he had to get his wallet back out. :(

You'd be amazed at how many customers I get who are buying 3 item, each clearly priced at over one dollar ($1.19, $1.09, $1.39, ...) and then they look mystified that their purchase came to more than $3. I used to think they were just lazy: not bothering to think. I shudder to think that they are acutally not capable of getting that answer.
(Again, to be clear, I totally forgive not bothering to/being able to work out what $1.19 times 3 is in your head, and I am probably the only freak in the world who likes to compute the tax in his head so that he's holding exact change before he's even rung up, but I do expect most adults to be able to realize that 3 times $1.09 is going to be some number bigger than $3.00.)

RecoveringKinkoid
09-26-2008, 01:18 PM
Actually, I can do really rudimentary, roundabout calculations, like you say. Round it up or break it down to stuff I CAN grasp. I can ballpark probably better than a lot of people with dyscalculia (a dyslexia-like disorder) can.

However, yeah, there are people out there who are physically incapable of doing what seems to most people to be simple no-brainer type calculations. 6% of the population (and that's more people that it sounds like) are incapable of doing simple calculations. So please don't dismiss someone out of hand as stupid if they can't do a "simple" math problem. They might have weird wiring in their heads. ;) And believe me, they are acutely aware of how dumb people think they are because of it.

Look at it this way...the part of my brain that does mathmatical calculations and number sequencing doesn't work. It's not developed. To me, trying to understand calculations is like trying to see a color outside the spectrum my eyes were designed to see. I just dont' have the software to run that program. I dont' even see numbers the way normal people do.

On the flip side, most people with dyscalculia and dyslexia tend to be of average to high IQ. So the nimrod at the checkout stand might actually be a freaking genius. :lol:

My math aptitude might be somewhere around 2nd grade. And that's being generous. :o

Danno
09-26-2008, 02:55 PM
On the flip side, most people with dyscalculia and dyslexia tend to be of average to high IQ. So the nimrod at the checkout stand might actually be a freaking genius. :lol:Some people, definitely. This particular guy, probably not. I left out the second part of the story where he wasn't sure which $3.95 item he wanted. I think his wife in the car just told him to get the thing that was $3.95, not realizing there are about seven things on the menu at that price.

Even then though I guess the guy could be a genius, just not very inquisitive.

RecoveringKinkoid
09-26-2008, 03:56 PM
Well, true. Occam's Razor does say, basically, that "It's usually the easy answer."

And the easy answer is that the guy is quite possibly just a dumbass. :lol:

TheComputerError
09-26-2008, 04:24 PM
I suppose here would be where I could explain my user name.

My coworker (D) was ringing out a lady (we'll call her F) and the total came to $10.99. Said lady tendered a $20. D entered the 20 into the register and the display changed to the change amount of $9.01. And, then, the unthinkable happened.

F: I have the penny.
D: Huh?
F: I have a penny, so you can give me a ten dollar bill.
D: *looks confused*
(D's not very good at math, which is surprising considering she's a senior pharmacy technician, but I'm sure I'll post about that some other time)
Me: Ma'am, I'm afraid that if you give us the penny, we'll be giving it right back to you, as your change is $9.01, and adding a penny will not bring it up to $10.
F: If you add the penny to the 99 cents, it equals a dollar. Add a dollar to the 9 and you have 10.
Me: O.o
F: The computers are always wrong when it comes to this.
Me: I'm afraid you're mistaken, ma'am. If you give us $20.01 to pay for a $10.99 bill, you will get $9.02 back.
F: The customer is always right. (Yes, she actually said this.)
Me: I'm sorry, ma'am, but this time, mathematically, you are wrong.
F: Well, see? You're the computer error!

She ended up getting the change she was due and not what she was demanding, but the kicker (and there's always a kicker) was that she stated after our little exchange that she was a front end supervisor and trained her cashiers not to follow the cash registers' instructions.

Evil Queen
09-26-2008, 05:01 PM
But... the customer actually was right. And she said the dreaded line; "the customer is always right"
......

Is the world ending without me?!?! :cry:

Broomjockey
09-26-2008, 09:26 PM
I
F: The customer is always right. (Yes, she actually said this.)
Me: I'm sorry, ma'am, but this time, mathematically, you are wrong.
F: Well, see? You're the computer error!


But... the customer actually was right. And she said the dreaded line; "the customer is always right"
......


Is that the customer you were talking about? 'cause they weren't right. No apocalypse for now.

Danno
09-26-2008, 09:50 PM
Yeah, that sounds a lot like a variation on an old scam, but...

Why would you go to that kind of trouble just to pay less 99 cents? Unless perhaps you're a scammer who's not in it for the money but for the thrill of the game, feeling of superiority to the scammee, or some other esoteric nonsense.

nomorecarts
09-27-2008, 09:05 AM
But... the customer actually was right. And she said the dreaded line; "the customer is always right"
......

Is the world ending without me?!?! :cry:
the change was $9.01, so the cashier owed the customer $9.01, the customer giving another penny would make the cashier owe the customer $9.02

Evil Queen
09-27-2008, 06:45 PM
...I told ya I was bad at math. :ashamed:

Broomjockey
09-27-2008, 08:24 PM
...I told ya I was bad at math.

Hey, I'll trade you 10 of my shiny dimes for 8 of your quarters! You're coming out better 'cause you get two more! :angel:

nomorecarts
09-29-2008, 01:08 AM
I'll give you 11 shiny pennies for those 8 quarters. you're even better off, because you get 11

Difdi
09-29-2008, 09:38 AM
She ended up getting the change she was due and not what she was demanding, but the kicker (and there's always a kicker) was that she stated after our little exchange that she was a front end supervisor and trained her cashiers not to follow the cash registers' instructions.

Oh wow, I'd love to be a fly on the wall of that audit... :eek:

SpyOne
10-02-2008, 11:27 PM
However, yeah, there are people out there who are physically incapable of doing what seems to most people to be simple no-brainer type calculations. 6% of the population (and that's more people that it sounds like) are incapable of doing simple calculations. So please don't dismiss someone out of hand as stupid if they can't do a "simple" math problem. They might have weird wiring in their heads. ;) And believe me, they are acutely aware of how dumb people think they are because of it.

I do get that some people have learning disabilities. I have a problem learning foreign languages that I believe may be organic in nature.
I am surprised to learn that the percentage of the poplulation who are unable to learn how to do simple calculations is so high, but it is still FAR lower than my experience.
That is, if 1 in 20 people who come through my register has a such a disability, then about 1 in 10 of the people in my line have a good excuse.

If you are blind, you will get special help to deal with things that normally require you to see. But if you simply refuse to open your eyes, all you deserve is a quick rap on the head.



Back to the original topic:
This is an outlook that might help (combined with a lot of patience): if you are right, any other person can come up with the same answer, given enough time.
Fast-change artists are trying to confuse their target into agreeing with them, even though what they are saying is wrong. "It came to 17.52 and I gave you a 20, and then I gave you 17 cents, so you owe me 4.50, see?" A fast change artist will NOT shut up, step back, and wait for you to come to the same conclusion that he just did. So, by stepping back and shutting up, you are helping to defuse the concern that you are a fast change artist.
Also, they just might be able to come up with the right answer if given just a moment when you aren't talking to them.

If you are right, then they will come to the same answer as you on their own, and you don't need to brow-beat them into agreeing with you. And if you stop trying to brow-beat them into agreeing with you, they just might decide to trust your answer and not bother working it all the way out.
Once you have accepted that you will NOT be able to brow-beat them into agreeing with you, you will realize that your continued attempts to explain it to them can't speed up your transaction: you'll be done here when the cashier has figured out what the right answer is on his own. The only way you might speed things up is to change the amount you gave him to one where you both agree the math is simpler, and the correct answer will be reached sooner. Or loan him a calculator.

I try to follow that. It uses most of my "zen". I think that if I ran into that cashier from fast food you described (can't see that 20.25 - 5.25 = 15.00, and takes more than five minutes working it out), I just might do something very rude, unkind, and unhelpful in public.

SpyOne
10-02-2008, 11:34 PM
I suppose here would be where I could explain my user name.

My coworker (D) was ringing out a lady (we'll call her F) and the total came to $10.99. Said lady tendered a $20. D entered the 20 into the register and the display changed to the change amount of $9.01. And, then, the unthinkable happened.

F: I have the penny.
D: Huh?
F: I have a penny, so you can give me a ten dollar bill.


This is exactly the kind of thing a quick change artist will do. It has all the flags: it almost makes sense, it involves handing money to the cashier after the amount tnedered has been keyed in, so the cahsiner can't rely on the computer to answer the question.

And if it worked, she'd have made a dollar right there (well, 98 cents). More importantly, she'd a have spotted a cashier who could be targeted for larger amounts using the same trick, possibly by other people.
Scam somebody out of 5 dollars 10 times a day, and you make a living.

Jay 2K Winger
10-04-2008, 01:54 AM
God, this reminds me of something.

I went to the Mercersburg Academy for a year, and while I was there, the drama department and its students (including me) were invited to come up to New York City to attend a taping of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" as exec producer or whomever was a graduate of the Academy.

This guy is in the chair and is four questions deep, still with all three of his lifelines. The question is something like

"This gas makes up the majority of Earth's atmosphere."
(A) Carbon Dioxide (B) Oxygen
(C) Hydrogen (D) Nitrogen

Now, I was a bit of a science geek as a kid, and I knew the correct answer is D. So did most of my classmates with me. The guy in the chair didn't have a clue. Even said, "Well, I know it's not B or D." :eek:

So he opts to use the Ask The Audience lifeline. We all pick up our voting pads, and the OVERWHELMING majority of the answers were for B or D. But he's still not sure. So he uses his Phone A Friend lifeline, calls up his friend who's a science teacher.

Contestant: "Hey, [name], the question is 'This gas makes up the majority of Earth's atmosphere.' A, Carbon Dioxide, B, Oxygen, C, Hydrogen, D, Nitrogen."
Friend: "Well, it's not B or D."
J2K: :jawdrop:

But even the guy's science teacher buddy couldn't help him. He still wasn't sure. So he went with his 50/50 Lifeline. You get three guesses to guess which two options were removed, but the first two don't count.

Yup, options A and C were dropped, leaving him with B and D, the two answers that his buddy said weren't the answer.

Crowd: "Ooh."
Regis: "...where did you say this guy teaches again?"
Crowd: :roll:

Well, the guy decided to quit, and the answer was revealed as being D, Nitrogen. The man is thanked for his time, he leaves, and then another cool moment happens.

While they reset for the "fastest fingers" round, Regis looks over toward our group and looks at my classmate John.

Regis: "Did you know the answer, kid?"
John: "Of course."
Regis: "...smart ass."

For the rest of the taping, whenever Regis flubbed a line or something, he'd shout, "It's the kid's fault!" and was blaming John for his mistakes.

We got to meet him after the taping. He was pretty cool.

Heatherina
10-04-2008, 03:47 PM
I equally suck at math--I shift into panic mode when asked to do math quickly or on the fly. I'm usually too worried that I'll mess up and say something stupid, that I do end up messing up and looking quite stupid. ;)

Primer
10-04-2008, 04:59 PM
I'll give you 11 shiny pennies for those 8 quarters. you're even better off, because you get 11
I'll give you my 8 shiny quarters for your 11 shiny pennies ONLY if your pennies have Indian heads on them.

joetheman
10-07-2008, 12:40 AM
*customer sees item ring up for 40 cents*

C: Those are supposed to be 5 for $2.
Me: They are.
C: No they aren't, they're 40 cents each.

*facepalm*

They actually did get it then, thankfully they weren't stubborn enough for me to find a calculator and use it.

Also people don't realize there's tax on things, because most groceries don't have tax. Some guy had a 5 dollar bill and bought a sandwich and it's like 5.55 because of the stupid 11% tax on "prepared" food we have

guy: that's supposed to be 4.99
me: there's tax on it because it's prepared
guy: well I only got a 5 thank you for wasting my time *leaves the sandwich and walks off*