Customers That Belong In Straight-Jackets

, , , , , , | | Right | May 16, 2019

(My store is currently having a sale where customers get 50% off their highest-priced item as long as their total is over $100. A lady comes up to my register. She’s only buying one jacket, but it costs $140, so she’ll get the discount. I get her phone number so that she can also get her [Store] membership discount of an additional 5%. The membership discount rings up automatically, but in order to get the 50% discount, I have to enter a code. I scan the jacket, turn to put it on the counter behind me to get it out of my way, and then turn back, preparing to type in the discount code. Before I can, however:)

Customer: *squinting suspiciously at the total that’s displayed on the card reader’s screen* “Wait, that’s not quite right, is it? This jacket should be $100. And don’t I get 50% off? I won’t buy it any other way.”

Me: “Yep, it is 50% off. I just have to type in a code and then it’ll show up. And you also get an extra 5% off because you’re a [Store] member!”

(I type in the code, which brings the total down to somewhere above $70 after tax. This is usually the part where the customer says, “Much better!” and possibly even apologizes for their impatience, and pays. Not this lady, though.)

Customer: *still squinting at the card reader’s display* “Okay… Hold on…”

(She actually pulls out her phone and starts typing numbers into the calculator. I just facepalm internally and wait, because no, this is not, in fact, the first time a customer has pulled out their calculator to double-check that our register has done the math correctly — the register that probably uses the exact same software as their phone’s app to do the calculation.)

Customer: “Okay, hang on. I’m getting a different number than what’s displaying here. So, starting with the original price of $140, minus a 6% discount—”

Me: *interrupting, trying to get ahead of a possible angry tirade* “It’s a 5% discount.”

Customer: “Oh, it’s 5%? Okay, that might be it.”

(She then retypes in all the math she has just done, having to start over again multiple times because she keeps typing things in wrong. I try my best to wait patiently, but I have about a million things I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m not even supposed to be putting up with this in the first place; I’m only there to fill in for a coworker who called out sick. At last, she finishes her calculations and I guess she comes up with the same total as the register because she finally agrees to pay.)

Customer: “I mean, 50% just seems like such a big amount, y’know? But I guess not.”

(It’s 50%. It took off half the price of the jacket. What do you want?)  

Customer: *as she’s taking her receipt and the bag with the jacket in it* “I’m not even sure I like this jacket. I might have to return it if I can’t find anything to wear it with. And the buttons are a bit too much, don’t you think? I might have to put smaller buttons on it.”

(And that is the story of how a customer wasted five minutes of my time quibbling over the price of a jacket she didn’t even want in the first place. I will never understand humans.)

Time Is Math

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 15, 2019

One of the disadvantages in teaching in my part of Alaska was that when spring finally rolled around, most of the boys — and some of the girls — would prefer to be out on the tundra shooting at the amazing plethora of recently-arrived ducks, geese, and cranes — and hopefully not shooting any swans!

Because hunting was a skill that was very important to the Yup’ik culture — and useful, too — I understood that they were learning some practical skills even outside my classroom. But on the other hand, if I reported too many absences, I’d be catching some flack from our district admins.

So, on whatever day that class attendance had dropped unacceptably low, I’d announce a lesson in ”money math.”

Some background info: over the course of that year, my students had been very active in fundraising, mainly showing movies for the village multiple days each week, at which we also sold a lot of popcorn, drinks, and homemade “ice pops.” So, by the end of the year, we had a lot of buckets full of coins. This money would usually follow them to the next higher grade the following year, but unfortunately, my predecessor had taken his classes’ money with him when he’d left the village two years earlier. To prevent that from happening again and to give my attending students some “real-life” math practice, I’d bring out one of the coin buckets and place a big handful of coins in front of each pair of “money math” partners.

They would then need to sort them into appropriate piles — quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies — and then use multiplication to find the total value of each type of coin — e.g. “7 quarters x 25 cents each = $1.75.” Then, each pair would need to add all of their total coin values together and write that amount in a list up on the blackboard. As a class, we then needed to add all of those amounts into a grand total of all the handed-out money for the day. And last, we needed to do on the board the most difficult division problem we’d ever done in order to figure out how much each student would be getting — and later giving them some additional practice at counting out their “shares.”

Hey, who says math needs to be boring?

As a pleasant, and very planned-upon consequence, attendance the following day would almost always be at or near 100%… even though “money math” was almost never offered two days in a row. I guess just the possibility that they might be missing out on a “money math” lesson gave them some extra motivation to not skip.

Penny Dreadful

, , , , , , | Working | May 13, 2019

(I am at the drive-thru of a large fast food chain. After ordering my food, they tell me my total will be $3.26. I have some change in the tray, so I pick up 26 cents so I can get rid of some of it.)

Me: *reaches the first window*

Worker: “What did you have?”

Me: “The [breakfast sandwich].”

Worker: “That’s $3.25.”

Me: “$3.25? I was told $3.26.”

Worker: “$3.25.”

(I put the penny back into the tray and gave her $5.25. She gave me $1.99 in change.)

Using Her Microbrain

, , , , , | | Friendly | May 13, 2019

(I have this one coworker whom I love to death, but she can be kind of ditzy. Our work recently got these new candy-covered nuts, and we keep them warm under the heating lamps. They’re still really good cold, but they’re best warmed up a little. Said coworker likes to buy a bag of the nuts, but she only eats half of them before they get cold. Last time we worked together, she asked if I wanted the rest of the bag because she doesn’t like them cold.)

Me: “Why not just heat them up in the microwave?”

Coworker: “It’s just not the same as buying them hot.”

(This I get, but I’m trying to make a point as she always throws half a bag away even though she loves them.)

Me: “I don’t see why? I mean, the only difference is either being heated by light waves or micro waves.”

(Cue the stare of slight confusion slowly morphing into understanding.)

Coworker: “OH, MY GOD! That’s why they’re called microwaves? Because they use micro waves?!”

In The Future Cars Will Run On Carbs

, , , , | | Right | May 10, 2019

(We host an annual fundraising dinner for our high school band, and we serve a lot of spaghetti. My dad’s a longtime supporter and one day stumbles across something interesting. About a month before the dinner, one brand of spaghetti goes on special at local grocery store, and at the same time there’s a coupon that can be used in conjunction if you also buy the same brand sauce. With both, you can get extra “points” on your card for the purchase, which can be redeemed for gas. Because of this, if you get the spaghetti and sauce and then donate it, you actually end up with a slight profit in gas savings. The only issue is that there is a maximum of six boxes of spaghetti per customer. A few calls later, and everyone associated with the marching band comes and buys six boxes of spaghetti and some of the sauce, donating it to the dinner, and earning their free gas. My dad is checking out when the manager comes over.)

Manager: “Excuse me, but you’re the tenth person today who has bought just spaghetti and sauce and used the same coupon. May I ask if there’s a reason?”

(My dad explains it, and then with pen and paper does the math to show how it works out. The manager thinks this is great and says they will gladly hang flyers for the dinner, then leaves. But the cashier is gobsmacked.)

Cashier: “Can I take that paper where you did all that math? I want to give it to my kids to show them when they ask why they have to study math in school. Imagine, free gas for spaghetti!”

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