Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Counting the change

When I was much younger,  the person in the shop often calculated the change by taking the coins/notes out of the till in order from smallest to the largest.  Thus, if you handed over a $20 note for a purchase of $12.40, the shop assistant took the change out of the till in order, such as 10 cents, then 50 cents, then $2, then $5, and would often count the change to you as the individual coins (or notes) were handed over, "$12.50, $13, $15, $20".  I don't think they bothered to work out what the total was.

This skill has become redundant in an era where cash registers calculate the amount of change.  Hence I was taken aback (and pleasantly surprised) when the (relatively young) cashier in a supermarket recently handed me my change and counted it out to me in this way.

Perhaps the passing of this is not really a cause for regret, as the requirement for the cashier to key in the denomination of the note that they've been handed reduces the margin for "error".  I can well remember my mother being very upset when she was handed change in the milk bar for a 10/- note, yet she was adamant that she had handed over a £1 note.   Even today I get edgy when the cashier places the note in the drawer before taking out the change, especially if a modern till isn't in use, or isn't used to calculate the change.

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