I had to pick up a few items at Target, that bastion of mass-market retail therapy. It was over the lunch hour, so I was a bit hungry and decided to pick up a hot dog. The Vienna Dog Combo was advertised at $2. I didn’t really need the Combo…whatever that was, so I asked for just the Dog. The very lovely 20-ish year old cashier rang up $1.99. So, just double-checking, I asked her what the difference was…for 1 cent. She proceeded to show me a small cup and told me with the hot dog, I’d get the small cup for water. And for the Combo at $2, I’d get a medium cup for a soft drink.
So I said, “Oh! So they’re the same price.”
And she said, “Ummm. No. I’d have to check.”
And I said, “Well, the hotdog is $1.99 and the Combo is $2, so there is a 1 cent difference.”
And she said, “Ummm. No, I’d have to check the tax.”
OK. So she had to void the hotdog for $1.99 and ring up the Combo for $2. The bill was $2.17. I gave her a $5 bill and she gave me back $2.58. I was short a quarter.
So I said, “Excuse me, but I’m short a quarter.”
She looked at me, very puzzled, and asked to see the bill. Well I couldn’t stand it and I had to pull a Sweetheart.
“Sweetheart,” I said, “It’s just arithmetic. See? The bill was $2.17. Here are 3 pennies. 2.18, 2.19, 2.20, and a nickel, that’s 2.25 and a quarter, that’s 2.50 and another quarter, that’s 2.75. See? I need one more quarter.”
And she said, “I’m sorry, but I need to see the bill.”
So she looked at the bill that told her to give me $2.83 back and still, not quite sure if 25 cents was the difference between $2.58 and $2.83. But she gave me the quarter.
I sat, shaking my head while eating my dog. Then headed off to look for a desklamp for my daughter. I asked a handsome young man working the floor, also about 20 years old, if he knew where desk lamps might be. He said, “Umm. Well, umm, let me see if I know how to say this…there are lights…ummm…for reading a book (he meant a booklight) on this floor, but lights are on the wall downstairs…through furniture…you know…against the wall.”
I headed downstairs to find my “light against the wall” thinking all the while that rocket scientists and wall street financiers, and executives, lawyers, professionals, and writers are all virtually unemployable by 55 (“Dead” in industry parlance) and we have children who are supposed to be adults who can’t even “Read, Rite or do their Rithmetic.”
Maybe someone will do something. Like fix education and use our unemployed 50 plussers to Learn ‘Em something.