On 12/20/2015 2:36 PM, email@example.com wrote:
When I was 16 I worked at McDonald's. When they found out that I knew
how to figure out sales tax and make change (no computerized cash
registers then), I was always put up front to take orders.
When I was 17 I worked at a department store. We had to take a math test
to get the job.
Many years later I was at K Mart, and was talking to the cashier,
telling her that I was going to Long's (a drug store chain later
purchased by CVS) and she said "oh, it's my dream to work at Long's." I
said "so why don't you apply there?" She said "I did, but I could not
pass their math test." Aha! Long's always had very competent cashiers,
but apparently that went away when they were bought out by CVS.
One day I was at CVS and they had 40% off all remaining summer
merchandise. I bought something marked at $10. They had not programmed
the new price into the system so the cashiers had to take 40% off.
The cashier took out a little pad of paper. She wrote $10 on it. Then
she took out a calculator and multiplied 10 by 0.4. She wrote down 4 on
the pad. Then she did 10-4=6. I told her to just multiply by 0.6, but
she helpfully informed me that it was 40% off, not 60% off. I really
wanted to come back the next week when everything was 50% off to see if
she went through the same procedure.
I went to HD to purchase some plywood. Wanted to have it ripped into 10"
wide strips. Kid came to the saw -- cuz customers aren't capable of
operating a saw that is *bound* to a table/rig! :-/
Told him what I wanted. He pulled out his tape rule and asked me to
show him 10 inches... Alarmed, I took it upon myself to mark the
plywood -- allowing 1/8" for each cut as I'm sure that wouldn't
occur to him!
Different occasion, I purchased two (identical) $9.99 items at grocery
store up the street. Had my $20+1+1 (cash) in my hands in anticipation of
the bill. Little girl announces $40-something dollars and looks to me
I smile and bring my hand holding cash close to my chest (it's a routine I've
developed over years of dealing with stupid clerks):
"What's wrong with this picture?" (smiling disarmingly)
"This is $9.99" (motioning to first bottle) "let's call it $10"
"And this, too, is also $9.99" (motioning to second bottle -- same stuff!)
"so lets call it $10, too! Ten plus ten... ?" (motioning to the
$40 total displayed on the register)
"Yeah?" (still clueless)
"(sigh) Just ring it up again, please..."
Now, of course, SHE is annoyed because I'm making her do something she's
already done (and we all know how hard ringing up two items can be!)
The issue in each case is how the two individuals had no "feel" for
the numbers. I.e., seeing two items that were "about $10 each"
should, in my mind, have caused the second cashier to be puzzled
when the machine told her $40 -- instead of just parroting the
display and asking me for $40.
I can understand the first kid being overzealous and putting marks at
10, 20, 30, 40 ... 90 inches along the 8 ft plywood sheet and, in
doing so, leaving me with 9-7/8 wide strips. Or, a 10" strip followed
by a bunch of 9-7/8 strips (depending on which side of his mark he cuts).
I can understand him forgetting that the blade takes material away
and failing to allow for that -- having *knowledge* that the customer
But, I can't understand him being unable to use a ruler!
One of the first things new (no experience) guys in the cabinet shop got
was a "big inch" , a piece of paper with an inch expanded to 8" and the 8ths
, quarters etc drawn in . A good proportion couldn't relate that to the
"regular inch" on their tape measure ... I had a helper (when I was doing
insurance repairs for a contractor) that I had writing measurements down as
I called them out . One of the measurements read "31 inches and 25 cents"
Around 1975 I worked for the federal office of workers compensation in
NYC. (Most of the injured employees were postal workers, because most
federal employees coverred were postal employees)
Some were on permanent disability and once in a while cost of living
increases had to be figured for their benfits. All 12 of us stopped
what we were doing to figure them out. We each had a caluculator,
but two of us had programmable calculators, each with an instruction
manual. One used 2" wide cardboard strips, with holes that could be
punched. I think i got that one. We also had worksheets that had
to be filled out, one for each person on disabilty, in which we wrote
down the original amont, the 3% increase, the sum. It was so
frustrating to do that by hand when I had in front of me a
programmable calculator, but when iirc I called it to his attention,
he said to continue as I was.
I stayed in at lunch, reading the manual but an hour wasn't enough. I
stayed late, even though no one stayed late, and read the manual and
started punching holes (they had a stack of strips). Finally I came
in on Saturday, even though afaik there was no procedure for coming in
on Saturday, and I didn't expect to get paid for any of this overtime,
but I didn't like being frustrated.
You could make long programs by using more than one strip in a row.
And if you made an error, you could edit the program with scissors,
cutting off the strip just before the bad instruction. One time I cut
the strip so short, I put it in the slot and it didn't come out the
other end!! I was scared, because I wasn't supposed to be there
anyhow. This was in the tall office building built where the camera
used to be for New Years Eve in Times Square, 45 and Broadway. I went
down to the street and they had a drugstore at ground level. The
drugstore sold philips screwdrivers. Whew. I went back and took the
cover off the calculator, still afraid the janitor would see me and
I'd never be able to convince anyone I knew what I was doing (since of
course I'd never seen a programmable calculator before.)
Anyhow, it only took me an hour or two longer, and I was ready for
Monday morning. I showed it to the boss, but he didnt' take my word.
He had someone calculate several of them the old way while I ran the
programmable calculator (which also printed the work sheet strip,
enough to fulfill that requirement.) After 5 or more of these, he
took everyone off calculating duty except one person with the good
calculator. He couldn't do the work of 12, but he could do the work
of 3 or 4, and we'd be done in time.
The other calculator used magnetic strips, about the same size as the
paper, but the code was invisible, and the manual was harder to
understand. Impossible without the manual. Oh yeah, it had storage
areas, and you couldn't just say X * 1.Y% = answer. You could only
move and add, no mulitiplying. But it would also print a paper strip
and I think I got that working in a couple hours.
What's really bad is that I had surgery and recuperation and didnt'
get back there adn didnt' train anyone else to do what I'd done, or
even leave notes, or return to that job. The next time the % increase
was likely different, and I'm not sure they could figure it out.
I think he should shoot to the top. Customer relations or district manager.
That way he would be in contact with more customers whom would mutter
"asshole" to themselves when leaving. Spread the goodness.
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