First, you need to know that I always stand in the slowest possible line in any check out. I know we probably all feel that way. It never fails, as soon as I get my cart unloaded, the cashier needs help. Or the lady in front of me decides to go through her entire coupon file one-by-one. A few months ago when I was in this situation, I warned the guy who got in line behind me: "If you ever want to get out of here, do NOT get in this line." He actually came back after he'd made his purchase--while I was still waiting--and thanked me for saving him the hassle.
So I'm in line at BB&B, waiting to purchase my one item. The woman in front of me is buying 12 identical novelty pens. They are 75% off. The cashier needs to enter the discount manually, which apparently requires the pressing of at least 14 buttons (very slowly) on the keyboard. Finally finished ringing up the first pen, the cashier explains that she now needs to do this 11 more times. (Help me!) After the 5th time through this process, the customer notices the pens are not ringing up correctly. The cashier cancels the whole transaction and starts over.
But wait, they are still ringing up "incorrectly" according to the customer. She proceeds to explain that these $2 pens are ringing up as 50 cents after the discount is taken, but 75% off $2 should be 25 cents. (Go ahead, do the math...this is where I really start to lose it.)
Here's the thing. I write stuff. I can't do math. I may have graduated summa cum laude, but my secret shame is that I didn't qualify for the basic freshman math class in college. Instead I took some remedial class called "Contemporary Math." (I appreciated the course title because, despite the reality that put me in this class, it sounded like I was on the forefront of all that was hip and cool about math.)
But even I know that 75% off $2 is 50 cents! That is lemonade stand math! And neither the cashier nor the customer could figure this out. I proceeded to do the math with both of these women. In detail. Turns out it hadn't rung up wrong the first time after all. Isn't that swell?!
When it was finally my turn, the cashier actually said to me "Thanks for your math help." Wow. Five words I never thought I would hear. I would like to bottle that up and give it to Mr. Martinson--my high school algebra teacher the year I had to get a math tutor. I admit, I would be lost without my calculator, but have we really lost all ability to problem solve for ourselves?