Her Head Is Doing Yours In

, , , , , | Right | May 5, 2021

Me: “Your total is $96.37.”

Customer: “But the total was $70 in my head!”

I go over her purchases with her to make sure everything rang up correctly; it did.

Customer: “But it was only $70 in my head!”

I go over the receipt with her again, adding everything out loud.

Customer: “I don’t understand why it’s so much; it was only $70 in my head!”

I pull out my phone calculator and calculate everything again one by one and add the tax. The calculator, of course, shows the same total as the register.

Customer: “But it was only $70 in my head!”

I just shrugged, as there was really nothing else I could do, and she left.

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At Least Her Future Is Bright

, , , , , | Learning | May 1, 2021

I work with preschoolers at a daycare. I have a little girl who is incredibly smart but also can have incredibly silly moments. It is the end of daylight saving time, and as such, it gets dark before some of the kids leave. I decide to use this as a teachable moment and talk about the sunset. I turn their attention to the outside and they notice that it’s dark. I ask them why, and they all look at me with blank stares. I explain to them that the sun went down — the sun set.

Girl: *Gasp* “We have to set the sun!”

I was so surprised, I didn’t know how to respond. I think I just said that the sun had already set, so we didn’t have to worry about it. We talked some more about how the earth turns, which is why we have day and night, and how the earth goes around the sun, which is why we have seasons and years. For the next week, some of those kids would come up to me and tell me, “The earth goes around the sun!” which made my teacher heart happy.

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Betcha Ten Bucks She Feels Worse Than You Do

, , , , , , | Working | April 28, 2021

This was late spring 2020, during the health crisis. I was going through the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant. This restaurant had a cash register in a booth on the outside of the building for drive-thru orders.

My total came to $10.02 and I had a twenty on me. After the woman punched in the numbers, I found two pennies. Since it was only two pennies and would round to a whole bill, I asked the woman if she minded taking the two cents. She said that was okay and took the two pennies.

And that’s when the fun began.

For social distancing, the restaurant had given her a plastic shallow bin to put change in for the customers. She took the $20 and the two pennies for a bill of $10.02 and started counting out $1s and change. I reminded her that I had given her two pennies, and $20.02 minus $10.02 is an even $10.

She took the change back but then tried to hand the bin to me with only $9 in it. I reminded her again that I had given her a twenty and two pennies for a payment of $20.02 and the total owed was $10.02. She looked at her register — displaying $9.98 since she took the pennies after punching in the total — and seemed very confused.

Meanwhile, I was silently cursing management for leaving someone with an iffy grasp of math at an exterior register alone with no immediate support system to help.

I tried again to explain the math, a very simple $20.02 paid and $10.02 owed and $10 even back. She grabbed a ten-dollar bill and put it in the bin, leaving the $9 already there. So she was offering a total of $19 to me.

Now I was wishing biblical plagues down on management because this woman had been set up for failure by being out here on her own.

I gave up at that point. I just said flat-out the $10 was mine and the $9 was hers, no attempt at trying to explain why the $10 was mine. She said, “Okay,” and though she still seemed confused, she took the $9 back and I took my change and moved up for my food.

I hope at some point the math clicked or someone explained it better than I. She likely thought I was trying to scam her.

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Chemically Imbalanced, Part 10

, , , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2021

Back in the early 1990s, two other male college freshmen and I were studying for an upcoming quiz for a chemistry class.

Student #1: “I’m really not feeling it. Think I should just skip the quiz entirely?”

Student #2: “Sodium hypobromite.”

Student #1: “What?”

I wrote out the chemical formula for sodium hypobromite: “NaBrO”.

Chemically Imbalanced, Part 9
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 8
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 7
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 6
Chemically Imbalanced, Part 5

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This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 101

, , , , | Right | April 11, 2021

I’m a teller and phone representative at our community credit union; it’s like a not-for-profit bank.

I get a phone call from a woman who needs help understanding a sequence of transactions on her account. There are a lot of moving parts but the upshot is that she wrote four checks that all bounced and we charged her a $25 fee for each, totaling $100 in fees. She had $20 in her account to begin with and a manager at a different branch had refunded two of her fees, meaning that she was overdrawn by a total of $30 in the end. That, it turns out, is not the issue she needs help with.

After I explain it twice and get her to agree with me each step of the way, we reach the end.

Caller: “Where’s that $50, then?”

Me: “I’m sorry, what $50?”

Caller: “Well, you said you charged me $50 in fees and refunded $50, so that should be zero. But you still took $50, so where did that other $50 go?”

Me: “Sorry, I wasn’t clear. We charged you $100 in fees and then refunded $50. You still owe us the other $50 due to the checks that didn’t clear.”

Caller: “Okay, but then where is that $50 you refunded me? I don’t see it in my account.”

Me: “Yes, that’s because we refunded it to your checking. You were overdrawn $80 but now you’re only overdrawn by $30.”

Caller: “But where is that $50? I’ve been through this so many times and I think y’all are just taking my money.”

This goes around in circles for a while. For the life of me, I cannot figure out which part she doesn’t understand. Eventually, we reach the half-hour mark. At our credit union, we have the philosophy that the tellers and phone representatives are there to serve all members, not just you. If you want to monopolize the time of one of us — there are usually only three or four at my location — then you pay $50 per half-hour after the first half-hour. The idea is that you’re inconveniencing other members by hogging my time, so you should only do it if you’re willing to pay for it. Telling her about that is the only reason our call ends.

I make notes on her account from our conversation, letting my colleagues know not to spend more than a few minutes with her unless they charge the “monopoly time” fee.

I got a call later that day from the manager that had refunded her fees. It turns out that that manager spent forty-five minutes on the phone with the woman before I did, and they had basically the same conversation, going in circles about $50. After I talked to her, the woman went into that manager’s branch to get help. They saw my notes and told her that, due to the amount of time we’d spent trying to help her, it would be a $50 fee. She got upset and asked to speak to the manager. In her anger, we actually learned what the root of this misunderstanding was the entire time.

It was because we “refunded” two of the fees instead of “waiving” them. It turned out that she had no intuitive sense about what negative numbers and overdrawn accounts were. When she heard that we “refunded” two fees, she expected to receive fifty physical dollars and was wondering how we could have done that when she wasn’t there. The entire time, she thought there was $50 waiting for her somewhere and was exasperated that we wouldn’t tell her where it was. She left without it.

This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 100
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 99
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 98
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 97
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 96

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