Has Beef With Math

| Tallahassee, FL, USA | Working | May 18, 2017

(I’m at a deli at the grocery store, trying to get some cuts. I’ve already gotten a half pound of turkey from the employee.)

Employee: “Do you need anything else?”

Me: “Yes, a third of a pound of roast beef.”

(The employee gets the beef out, and then looks back up at me.)

Employee: “Did you say half pound?”

Me: “A third of a pound for this one.”

(The employee starts up the slicer, and I’m waiting around. It seems like it’s taking longer than expected, and when he puts up the beef on the scale, it reads almost a half pound.)

Me: “Oh, I wanted a third of a pound.”

(Rather than stopping and taking some of the beef off, he starts slicing again.)

Me: “Sir, I said a third of a pound.”

Employee: *looking up* “Yeah, that means .75 of a pound.”

Me: “Um, no. That’s three quarters of a pound. A third of a pound is .33.”

(The employee gives me a blank look.)

Employee: “Most people mean .75. I got chewed out for that earlier.”

Me: “Well, whoever chewed you out shouldn’t have. That’s not a third of a pound, that’s three quarters. A third is definitely .33.”

Employee: “Well, most people mean .75 when they say a third of a pound.”

(I did get him to give me a correct third of a pound, but he repeated his insistence that “most people” meant .75 when they said “a third of a pound” in a tone that suggested the confusion was my fault. As this is a grocery store I frequent and I have never had a problem getting a third of a pound before, I suspect that there wasn’t any chewing out, but that he was trying to cover up his error.)

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