The importance of math skills

We were in Vancouver, Canada for the Christmas – new year week. We had a great time and that’s a whole other post, but a visit to a Tim Hortons sticks out in my mind. For those south of the border, Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution… a franchised coffee/donut/snack shop slash goldmine. So there we were, travelling around the Vancouver area doing some sightseeing, and we stopped at a Timmie’s for a break. I ordered two coffees and an assortment of Tim bits – little deep fried nuggets of glazed goodness – and my total was something like $12.14. I handed $20.25 to the high-school age girl behind the till, and to my surprise the register showed the change as $17.11. She handed me a fistful of bills and coins, so I told her she gave me too much. I got a blank stare in return. So I reminded her my total was twelve dollars and some… my change should be closer to eight bucks.

At this point people are stacking up behind me, because Tim’s is a busy place wherever you go. For those lucky enough to own one it’s a license to print money, plus hey – free donuts and coffee! But the girl just looked at the till and said the machine showed I should get that much back. It never occurred to her she fat-fingered something when she punched in the total. I started to lay it out for her again, but she just looked past me to the next person in line – she wasn’t interested. So I pocketed my change and sat down to enjoy my almost-free coffee and Tim bits. At the end of the day the till would be short, but I doubt she even remembered our exchange.

Then there was the Starbucks in downtown Vancouver… Pamela bought a travel mug for $10.15-ish. Again, I handed the young¬†cashier $20.25, and got back a dime in change. Before I could say anything she closed the till, so I just stood there and reminded her I gave her a $20. I had to wait a couple of transactions before someone else paid cash and the till opened (lots of people use plastic at Starbucks, it seems), then she couldn’t remember how much she owed me. Ten dollars, I reminded her, which she happily gave me just so I would go away. I’m sure if I said $20 she would have given it to me.

So, kids – pay attention in school. Those boring math classes actually have real-world applications. And if you are an employer, you might want to add a little math quiz to your standard job application form.

One Response to “The importance of math skills”

  • Pamela in Phoenix:

    Of course, by the time these little geniuses figure out the error of their math impaired ways, the point will be “mute.” (Don’t even get me started.)

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