Cubic Confusion

, , , , , , | Related | January 16, 2020

(It’s no secret in my family that I’m very good at mental arithmetic. As a result, I’m frequently used to calculate any number of things going on in their lives under the pretense of “save me from finding the calculator.” Usually, it’s just a minor inconvenience in my day. Then, my dad says the magic words.)

Dad: “So, it measures 7 feet, by 7 feet, by 4 inches. How many cubic feet is that?”

Me: “16 1/3.”

Dad: “No! That’s too small!”

Me: “You said 7 feet, by 7 feet, by 4 inches, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “And there’s 12 inches to a foot, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “So, 4 inches is equal to 1/3 of a foot, right?”

Dad: “Right.”

Me: “So, 7, times 7, times 1/3. That’s 16 1/3.”

Dad: “No! You have to convert it to cubic inches first!”

Me: “Really?! You’re making me do it that way?”

Dad: “Yes, that’s how you do it.”

(Groaning and shaking my head, I do this considerably longer calculation.)

Me: “That’s 28,224 cubic inches, so… 16 1/3 cubic feet. Again.”

Dad: “What?! How did you turn 28,000 into 16?!”

(I grab a pencil and paper and walk him through every step of my work. We arrive at 28,224 just fine, and then we get to converting.)

Me: “So now we divide by 1728.”

Dad: “No! There are only 12 inches to a foot!”

Me: “It’s a CUBIC foot, Dad. That’s a cube measuring 12 inches, by 12 inches, by 12 inches. That’s 1728 cubic inches to the cubic foot. Or are you going to tell me that you think the answer is 2352 cubic feet?”

Dad: “You did something wrong!”

(He storms off, right towards the calculator. Meanwhile, I’ve pulled out my phone and found a source that proves there are 1728 cubic inches to a cubic foot, just in case I still need it, which I do. By the end of this encore of a needless conversion, we have, once again, arrived at 16 1/3.)

Dad: “THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT!”

Me: “Why don’t you show me what I’m calculating?”

(He leads me to the backyard and shows me a big, rectangular hole.)

Dad: “This is for the shed. I dug it out, and I just need to smooth it out. Tomorrow, I’m going to fill it. I need to know if I’ve got enough bags of cement. If it’s 16 1/3, I’d only need one bag, but I’m definitely going to need more like 30.”

(I see one of the bags he has out, and I start reading it to make sure all of his numbers are right. The bag says it’s good for 20 cubic feet of concrete, so by all outward appearances, my math is sound. Then, as I ponder why my dad insists he’s going to need 30, the gears in my head start winding.)

Me: “Dad, you are going to use concrete, right?”

Dad: “Yes!”

Me: *realizing how poorly I phrased my previous question* “Walk me through it. You empty this bag into the… whatever, and then?”

Dad: “Then I add the water until it’s the right consistency.”

Me: “That’s it?”

Dad: “Well, then I pour it, smooth it out, and build the shed.”

Me: *facepalming* “Oh, my God.”

Dad: “What?”

Me: “You don’t know the difference between cement and concrete, and you’ve done work on this house.”

(At least now we knew what the problem was. Now to figure out how many of his fixes around the house have to be redone.)

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It’s Not Adding Up How It’s Just Not Adding Up For Her

, , , , , , , | Right | January 8, 2020

(A furious woman has called in claiming we are overcharging her on her credit card statement. She is screaming and cursing down the phone at me but has started to run out of steam.)

Me: “On the current statement it shows that last month your total was £390. Is that correct?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “And it shows that you paid the full amount of £390. Is that correct?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “And then it shows that you made purchases this month to the value of £276. Is that correct?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, and it’s showing that the total owing this month is £276, so you have not been overcharged.”

Caller: “Are you f****** stupid or something? That’s too much! You’re overcharging me! Idiot.”

Me: “Okay, let’s break this down. You spent £52 in [Shop #1], then £137 in [Shop #2], £40 in [Shop #3] and £47 in [Shop #4]. Is that correct?”

Caller: “Yes, I’m not an idiot. I know where I f****** used my card and I only used it four times.”

Me: “£52 + £137 + £40 + £47 is £276, which is exactly what’s owing on your statement.”

Caller: “It’s not f****** right! How stupid can you be to not see that?”

Me: “Do you have a calculator there? Can you add up the four transactions yourself?”

Caller: “That’s your job. I’m not doing your f****** job for you.”

Me: “Okay, but you agree that you paid your statement in full last month. You also agree that the four transactions on this statement and the amounts are right, but when I add them together you are insistent that the total is wrong. Maybe it would help if you added them up yourself?”

Caller: “I’ve already done that and I’m telling you it’s wrong! How can you work for a bank and not be able to do basic f****** maths?”

Me: “With all due respect, I’m not the one struggling with the maths here. I cannot help you further, so I will be terminating this call. I suggest you visit your nearest branch and have someone talk you through your statement as I can’t make this any simpler for you.”

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A Cent’s Worth Of Satisfaction Is Priceless  

, , , , , | Right | January 6, 2020

(I have recently been hired at a chain store in a small town. I’m manning the cash register on a very busy day. My current customer hands me a $10 bill to pay, and I pause to see if she starts digging for change.)

Me: “Out of ten?” *punches buttons on register*

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: *starts counting out change*

Customer: “Here.” *hands me a nickel*

(I’m not good at mental math, and this random nickel confuses me enough that I lose track of my counting.)

Customer: “You need to give me $3.02. I’m an accountant.”

(I try and fail to do the math in my head, partly because the customer keeps repeating that I owe her $3.02 because she’s an accountant. After several long seconds, I give up and pull out a pen and scrap paper.)

Customer: *in a very condescending tone* “I told you, I’m an accountant! I know this, and you owe me $3.02!”

Me: *finishes calculations* “Okay, ma’am, your change is $3.03. Have a good day.”

(The customer actually flounced out of the store in a huff. One cent isn’t much, but I admit to taking some small satisfaction in the accountant being wrong in her math.)

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Lucky Number Thirteen

, , , , , | Right | December 28, 2019

(It is a few minutes before my shift is over and I am working the self-scans with a coworker. A woman asks me for help with a plastic bag containing a dozen small plastic bottles.)

Me: “What can I help you with?”

Customer: “I have these little bottles and when I scan the package it says that they’re a dollar twenty-nine.”

Me: “Well, it could be that the entire package is a dollar twenty-nine.”

Customer: “Actually, I think it means individually because I scanned another bottle and it came up as a dollar twenty-nine so I think it’s referring to each bottle by itself and not the whole package. See, the bottle I scanned is already here.”

(She shows me a small plastic bottle by the rest of her groceries and at that moment I realize she has thirteen small plastic bottles — the one she had scanned and is with her groceries, and the container that has twelve.)

Me: “Hold on one minute and I’ll check with my coworker.”

(I go to my coworker and she tells me to scan the bottles individually.)

Me: *to customer* “Okay, ma’am. I’ll just scan them separately. Since you’ve already scanned one, I’ll just scan the other twelve.”

Customer: “What do you mean? I only have twelve. I’ve scanned one, now you only have to scan eleven more.”

Me: “Well, ma’am, you actually have thirteen. There’s the one that you scanned, and the other twelve in this bag.”

Customer: “What do you mean? I’ve scanned one, so now there’s just eleven left to scan.”

Me: “Take a look. You’ve scanned one and there’s twelve in this bag so that’s thirteen.”

Customer: “No, that’s only twelve. I’ve scanned one and now eleven more have to be scanned.”

Me: “Here, ma’am, take a look.” *counts the bottles in the plastic bag and the one that she has by her groceries* “So, take the one that you have already scanned and the ones in this bag and that’s thirteen.”

Customer: “That’s right. It’s twelve. This one plus the other eleven, and that’s twelve.”

Me: “Yes, but you don’t have twelve. See, there’s the one that you’ve already scanned, plus I’m holding twelve. That makes it thirteen.”

(This exchange goes on for a second time as I try to explain to the customer that she actually has thirteen bottles.)

Customer: “Look! I don’t have time for this. Just give me twelve if that’ll make you feel better but I know I have eleven.”

(Instead, I gave her the “eleven” that she thought she had just to get rid of her as I just wanted to leave and go home to blow off some steam. Truth be told, though, after her getting angry with me, I actually felt compelled to add an extra five bottles to her order just to get even. Good thing common sense stopped me.)

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That Measurement Holds No Quarter With Him

, , , , | Right | December 26, 2019

(After I replace a $9.99 toilet seat with a ten-year warranty at nine years and six months — it is cracked and a hair is still sticking out — for one half of the married couple, the other half decides he wants to purchase a replacement mirror panel for their vanity in their bathroom. Not wanting to get this wrong after this event, I take extra effort to identify the vanity type and model, look at the measurements, and decide to ask the man to return home, measure the mirror size, and call me back to confirm. He agrees and calls back.)

Customer: “The mirror panel is eleven and a half inches by eight and two-eighths inches.”

Me: “Okay. Eleven and a half inches by eight and a quarter.”

Customer: “No, you idiot! Eight and two-eighths!”

(Pause.)

Me: “Eight and two-eighths it is.”

(It took four weeks to arrive. Two-eighths just didn’t compute.)

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