A Cents-Ible Assumption

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2017

(After touring a famous museum in Greece my friends and I decide to order something from the museum café. The woman in front of us is purchasing one water bottle.)

Employee: “That will be 50c.”

Woman: “Let me find you a quarter.”

Employee: “Ma’am, a fifty cent coin will do.”

Woman: “I don’t have any quarters.”

(She spills all of her coins onto the counter. She has a few fifty cent coins.)

Me: “Madam, this will do.”

(Points out a fifty cent coin.)

Woman: “So I need fifty of these?”

Me: “No, you pay with that.”

(The woman then picks up a one euro coin.)

Woman: “Can I buy a bottle with this.”

Employee: “You can buy two water bottles with that.”

Woman: “Oh, okay.”

(She hands him the one euro coin and he goes to the fridge to get her water.)

Woman: *to me* “A one dollar coin. Who thought of that?”

Me: “Most countries have one dollar coins.”

Woman: “Oh.”

(She took her water and left.)

1 Thumbs
  • Neil Fairweather

    …as opposed to quarters, which are a weird North American thing, which is why you can’t find one in Europe.

    • Marcel

      Quarters are absolutely not weird, they are fantastic and should be in the euro as well. The thing I hated most about going to Euro was losing the quarter (along with the fl2.50, 25.00 and 250.00) (also using the associated slang, since these denominations no more existed. The slang of other denominations could simply remain for the euro.

      • TheWonderRabbit

        Wait; fl25.00?
        Like a $25 note?

        I was going to say quarters are as ridiculous as a $25 note but now I just hate money again.

        • Marcel

          yes, we used to have a full system of denominations based on quarters, a system i beleive is far preferable over the system we have now, since it is easier to me to combine coins/notes to make amounts.
          (no reason to hate money though)

    • AsaeAmpan

      Anyone who thinks a 25cent coin is weird is a fan of having to mash together 2 10cent coins and a 5 cent. Better said: an idiot who thinks inefficiency is actually a good thing.

      • Barry

        Why would we put together 2 10 cent coins and a 5 cent? when we have 20 cent coins?

      • Neil Fairweather

        No, you’re ignoring the fact that, unless prices ending in .25 (or .75, or maybe .24 and .74) are exceedingly common, a 20c coin is significantly more flexible than a 25c one. In other words, having a 25c coin instead of a 20c coin increases the number of inefficient occasions when it’s necessary to put together two 10c coins, as you would realise if you weren’t, like the woman in the story, someone who assumed that the American denominations are the only possible ones.

        • Regret

          If efficiency is the main goal then each step up should consistently multiply the value.
          x2 = 0.01 0.02 0.04 0.08 0.16 0.32 0.64 etc.
          x5 = 0.01 0.05 0.025 1.25 6.25 31.25
          Or taking the 1 as the starting point in both directions
          x2 = 0.125 0.25 0.5 1 2 4 8 16 32
          x5 = 0.04 0.20 1 5 25 125 625

          This is assuming all transaction values are equally likely.

          • Neil Fairweather

            Yes, that’s correct, and modifications to that are based on when efficiency isn’t the only factor. The consistent multiplication is, in decimal currencies, the factor of 10 (and the fact that it’s the base biases which transaction values are most common). So, given that we have 0.01, 0.1, 1. 10. 100… the question is what intervening values would be useful. (The same would apply to a x5 system.) The most common choice is 0.02, 0.05, 0.2 and 0.5. These are the most flexible and efficient without ceasing to be decimal.

    • Back before inflation ended the use of “cents”, Norwegian currency had a 0.25 coin. I think Denmark still has one.

    • NoobLord

      Back before the Euro, the dutch Guldens had 25 cent versions. As did the belgian Francs and probably a couple other older european currencies.

  • Blake Barrett

    That lady sounds like a loonie

    • Neil Fairweather

      It’s all Greek to her.

    • Holly

      Incidentally, are loonies still in use? Or did Canada get rid of them?

      • JJJJJJJJJohn

        Loonies are going strong. As are doubloons.

        The only coin we’ve eliminated is the penny (1 cent).

        • Cristian Ilkka

          And that’s good, because simply using the penny costs stupid amounts of money due to printing etc.

          • OutbackJon


      • Flami

        Loonies and toonies are definitely still in use. There are no more pennies as of 2013, though.

        • JDS

          Of which that is greatly appreciated. The UK got rid of their pennies also.

          • Neil Fairweather

            No we didn’t. It was considered last year, but the idea had been dropped by the time it was announced that it had been considered.

            (Given that prices have gone up about 25fold since decimalisation and the halfpenny is the only denomination retired in that time, the pennies are overdue for removal, but it hasn’t happened.)

          • JDS

            The first time I visited England, well London specifically, I saw 1 and 2 shilling coins still in use, LOL! Subsequent years I went rarely saw the 1p coin.

          • Neil Fairweather

            1s coins went out in 1990, 2s ones in 1992. 1p coins aren’t as obvious now, but that’s because prices ending in .99 have become less fashionable in maybe the last five years and people usually pay by credit card anyway.

          • Flami

            Ha, I didn’t know that! Thanks!

    • Mushroom

      She sure ain’t a twonie.

      • SylviasDaddy

        Canadian coins have the Sovereign (currently Elizabeth II) on the obverse.
        Each denomination has a distinctive design on the reverse.
        The one-dollar coin has a loon, and is sometimes referred to as a loonie.
        The two-dollar coin has a bear, so sometimes it is irreverently called “The Queen with the bear behind” …

      • Ditto


    • I AM NOT A LOONY why must I be tied with the epithet ‘loony’ merely because I have a pet halibut?

      • divgradcurl

        Just for the halibut.

      • Andrea Uhde

        I’ve heard tell that Sir Gerald Nabardo has a pet prawn called Simon, and you wouldn’t call Sir Gerald a loony, would you? Furthermore, Dawn Pelforth, the lady show jumper, had a clam called Sir Stefford after the late Chancellor, Allen Bullock has two pikes, both called Norman, and the late, great Marcel Proust had a haddock! If you’re calling the author of À la recherche du temps perdu a loony, I shall have to ask you to step outside!

  • Fanatastic

    Iiiincluding the states.

    • Mushroom

      Not very popular (nearly quarter-sized Madison, Sacajawea, and Susan B Anthony, or the older ones the size of a small pancake) but yeah, we have ’em. Now, why pray tell did she not want to use a 50c coin for a 50c purchase? It’s implied she thought those were cents… next to whatever cent coins she had.

      • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

        Assuming the customer is American, I think she had it firmly in mind that when something is “50 cents” (half a Euro, evs), that means two quarters. U.S. money has a 50-cent piece, but nobody uses them or carries them around. So when the cashier pointed to the half-Euro coin, her brain rejected the whole idea, and from there on out, it’s semi-random that she got her water at all.

      • SylviasDaddy

        Do you know why the US dollar coin is only a little larger than a quarter?
        Because that’s about all the dollar is worth nowadays!

        • godzillahomer

          and the dime is smaller than the penny, but worth more than the nickel which is bigger than the penny

          • SylviasDaddy

            godzillahomer: I was making a corny joke …

        • xarophti

          I know it’s a joke, but they re-sized for the vending industry, but kind of screwed it up. They wanted bigger than a quarter, but smaller than a 50¢ piece. What they got was a universally despised coin.

          • Ophelia

            I attempted to collect the Presidential Dollar Coins, but they’re so rarely used I was only able to get the first 18 presidents before I kind of stopped seeing US dollar coins at all outside of vending machines.

          • Mooshki Mitchell

            What kills me is that they encountered this problem with the Susan B. Anthony and then proceeded to make the exact same mistake with the Sacajawea. “Those who forget history…”

          • xarophti

            By then, the die was cast (literally) and it and it was too late to change it. The entire vending industry had re-tooled their coin acceptor tech to accept that size for $1.00, and we couldn’t have two different sized dollars out, (well, three technically, but everyone knows the old Eisenhowers won’t fit in a coin machine) and the industry wasn’t going to change again. The gold color alloy and smooth edge was the attempt to further distinguish the coin from the quarter.

    • godzillahomer

      yeah, but they’re not common, 50c and 1d coins are uncommon from my personal experience

      • Kathy Finlayson

        We only have 1 dollar coins in Canada. No paper.

    • Siirenias

      I wish that banks would issue more of them to their branches, because I love them

  • Steve Mitchell

    Hahaha, Americans.

  • Joan

    It’s a good story, but why translate the currency in to US. Anyone from the US that couldn’t follow the story if it was Euros and cents, probably isn’t going to get it anyway, and has been already said (@disqus_2KX700IhPs:disqus), the quarter is 25c. I don’t know any other currency that has a 25 “cent” coin. Euros have 20c coin.

    • Tuulos

      Also OP’s last statement is technically false as dollars are not in use in most of the countries. :^) And then we can take into account that some countries have such inflation levels that even small units of money can range from millions to billions.

      • Joan

        Well, no, most countries don’t have dollars, but very few (not suffering from hyperinflation) have notes worth as little as $US1. And many have got rid of coins worth as little as $US0.02.

    • Marion Scheffels

      Who knows if the story was just like that? Any other tourist who did not know Euros?

      • Yohannes Setiadji

        You’ll be surprised.

    • Neil Fairweather

      The word “dollar” was probably the actual one used: a tourist who a) doesn’t grasp that the denominations of Euro coins are different from Dollar ones, b) assumes that there is no Euro coin worth more than 25c, and c) (as pointed out elsewhere) doesn’t actually read the numbers on the coins, is very likely to refer to a 1 Euro piece as a “one dollar coin”, and the OP (another tourist) replied in the same way, partly because “Most countries have coins worth one of their respective currency unit” is verbose and potentially confusing.

    • I didn’t think anything was translated, I thought the lady was just *very* confused about the money. The way I read it was that the woman is carrying euro coins but is still somehow oblivious to the fact that both dollars and euros use cents. Then she gets confused with the coins because she’s trying to look for a quarter coin which does not exist in euro.

    • Kathy Finlayson

      Canada has 25 “cent” coins.

      • Neil Fairweather

        Like I said elsewhere, North American. (No doubt there are other exceptions, but it’s a pattern.)

  • disqus_7xljp2NM5j

    The U.S. does have a $1 coin for any of you foreigners who didn’t know that.

    • Will Flynn

      Yeah, and almost no one wants them, you rarely see them and most vending machines in any area I have ever been don’t accept them. So, it’s a dollar in the Ninja variety of dollars.

      • Clockwork Crow

        I ended up with a ton of dollar coins in college because the vending machines on one end of campus gave out dollar coins if you used a $5, but the vending machines on the other side of campus wouldn’t take dollar coins. Somehow I always ended up on one side of campus with nothing but a $5 bill, and on the other end with nothing but dollar coins…

    • Marion Scheffels

      Oh, there are also €5 and €10 coins, just like we once had DM5 coins *and* bills…

      Also some Euro countries wanted to have €1 bills, just as others asking for €1000 bills. 2018 they’re going to skip the €500 bills, and some countries don’t use the 1c or 2c coins…

    • Barry

      And I’m sure I’ve seen on NAW a story about a cashier getting confused by $1 coins in your country.

    • WC

      Even most Americans don’t seem know we have $.50 and $1 coins and a $2 bill. They’re just not common enough for most people to have seen one.

  • Kitty

    Ma’am, the money has its value number on it. Make use of that, please.

  • JDP

    Was she from the US? Because even the US has them. They’re not super common, but they have them.

    • JDS

      I haven’t seen a US 50¢ piece in a decade or more.

      • JDP

        I see them pretty often and I live in Canada lol.

        • JDS

          US 50 cent coins? Really? I ask my bank for them and have been told they are out of production.

          • Sal Silvio

            They are out of production, but they are still in circulation. As for dollar coins, in NY I see them all the time. LIRR machines give them as change when you buy train tickets.

          • JDS

            When I visit NYC I do see the Dollar coins only.

          • Dsru Bin

            I’ve been trying to get $.50 pieces for years (literally) and can’t find any banks/stores that have them. If you know where they are in circulation, I will gladly buy some off of you (plus a transaction fee for your trouble). And if you see any of the old Eisenhower dollar coins, I’ll take all you can get!

          • Ophelia

            The Los Angeles Metro Rail’s ticket machines also dispense dollar coins in change. They are my only remaining source of dollar coins.

  • Hehe my SO still has trouble getting the hang of US coinage, when he pays for something he just hands me a handful of change and says “here, just hand me what I need”

  • Cathrope

    When I went to Italy in 04 and 05, the Euro was not that hard to figure out. Only problem I had was to say Euro instead of dollar.

    • Novelista

      Me in Ireland in 03.

      But then again, it’s clear that you and I actually bother to read the coins, unlike this confused customer!

      (I also learned you say E1.50 as “one euro fifty” instead of “a dollar fifty”–same with pounds.)

  • Max

    I really hope this was a case of “hot, tired tourist” getting confused over things and really, really needing that bottle of water.

  • kaninefat

    No, they don’t, because most countries don’t use dollars, including Greece. Make up your mind what kind of currency you’re talking about.

  • TheWonderRabbit

    Well, not the EU.
    Most countries don’t use dollars.

    But I know what you mean.

  • Kathy Finlayson

    I was just in another province in a touristy area. The cashier was explaining dollar and 2 dollar coins to an American lady. She couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. This was in Canada.

  • Denton Young

    The US has dollar coins. I’ve paid for things with them.

  • Bel-Shamharoth

    Jesus, lady, the U.S. has both 50-cent and one-dollar coins. Sure, you don’t see them as often, but they’re out there, and it’s not like they’re kept secret. And if the guy points to a coin and says “you can pay with this”, just pay with that. It’s not hard.

  • Skelly

    A water bottle for only 50 cents…!!!

    If only Squid-Gut Pasta cost that little… :o|

  • Timothy O’Reilly

    In Greece? Don’t drop the coin on the ground!

  • Thomas Solebrant

    Wouldn’t it be euro in Greece?

    • Medusa Jordan

      Yes, and before that the drachma. OP does mention euro once.

  • Raizumichin

    No, most countries doesn’t have one dollar coins, because most countries doesn’t have a currency named “dollar”.