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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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I have a question for those of you who have worked retail and/or are no good at maths.

See, I'm good with numbers. Always have been. One of the consequences of this is that I'm really not sure what an average level of numeracy is.

When I went to the supermarket yesterday, after going through the checkout, I owed £32.74. Now, I had in my purse at this point some twenty pound notes and an absolute ass-load of coins. I could have just given the guy at the checkout two twenties, but I didn't want to do that because that would have meant getting even more change.

My first thought was just to hand over £43, and get given £10.26 in change. However, I know that this doesn't always go over too well. I've had cashiers act very, very confused when I've done that sort of thing, and I'm sure I've seen some of you people rant about having to make change for crazy mathmos.

Having contemplated various other possibilities (£42.74, £43.04, etc.) I figured that I had so much change on me, I may as well count it out and pay the exact amount. So I counted out twelve pound coins and handed them over "that's twelve pounds there", then counted out 74 pence, "and here's 74p" and finally handed over a twenty pound note.

To me, this is obvious. 12 + 0.74 + 20 = 32.74, but the guy I handed it too spent a good few seconds looking confused and totting it up in his head then apologised for having to do so. So I'm curious about two things:

1. How obvious is that sort of sum to people at large? Is it something that most people can tot up without thinking, or am I just unusually numerate?

2. Given that I didn't want to just give £40 and get a whole lot of extra change, is there any more cashier-friendly method I could have used?

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1. Obvious to me with discalculia. I'd be slower than you at working it out, but simple addition like that doesn't throw me. But then if I work at it slowly and carefully, I can do all kinds of maths, so I'm perhaps not the best person to compare to the average cashier, either.

2. In your situation, I'd have gone with the loose change option like you did as my first option. Otherwise I would have handed over £42.74 if I had it, followed by £43.04. I do this quite frequently and have only had a couple of people get confused by it, and did the 'just ring it up on the till, it'll be fine' thing that burr86 mentioned. But basically, if I can hand over the small change, I will. This is because a lot of cashiers prefer not to have to count out a shedload of change, or hand over valuable small change - it's a real bitch when you keep running out of pennies and tuppences because so many things end up priced at x.99, x.98 and x.97 and everyone needs them. In some shops, cashiers will thank you profusely if you give them a pile of loose change.

(Edit to clarify that I have been a cashier in the past)

Edited at 2007-12-15 00:54 (UTC)

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