Sometimes the Old Ways Worked!

Lunchtime. Subway. Pick the bread, meat and cheese and respond to the question “toasted?”. Now select the salads, one-by-one. Choose the sauce and pepper and on to the cash register. Pass the twenty dollar bill over to the cashier. Here comes the change. Fumble. The five cent coin clunks onto the floor of Subway then starts to roll towards the door. A quick step and the coin dies under my shoe. Bend down, fumble again, pick it up and put it in my pocket. Fumble some more with the rest of the change, grab food and exit stage left.

This is a regular lunchtime excursion. It only occurred to me today how times had changed. I had ordered a sub, a coke and a packet of crisps. The items were totalled into the cash register – press the button for BMT 12”, the button for small coke and the button for crisps. The machine then calculated the cost of $12.75. I open my wallet and hand $20.00 over to the cashier. The cashier then types $20.00 into the cash register as the amount tendered and the register tells her to give me $7.25 in change. She then takes a $5.00 note from the register along with a $2.00 coin, a 20 cent count and the previously mentioned acrobatic 5 cent coin. They are placed (with a pleasant smile and a thank you) in one motion into my hand – the note with the coins stacked on top of it.

This is where the problem is. I then have to fumble to get the coins into my other hand so I can put them in my pocket and then out the note in my wallet. I am sure it is easier for a lady with a purse – she can just tip the coins from the note into the coin compartment then put the note away. I’m not so new age or sensitive to have the same option. I’m a bloke and I have pockets – one of which holds a wallet and a separate one that holds my coins. It would be so much easier were the cashier to give me the change with the coins on the bottom and the notes on the top. Of course, she couldn’t do that as then I could not easily check the change and she would need to think from right to left when taking the change out of the cash register.

I appreciate that stores are trying to push customers through quickly hence just handing the change over in a single motion. Really, however, is it saving any time when the customer then spends a minute or so juggling coins and notes as he tries to get them all packed away?

In many respects, those dim, dark days of medieval shopping in the past had a lot going for them. I freely admit to being of an age and still able to remember cash registers before they told the cashier how much change to give. I can even remember cash registers before they plugged into a power source – like Arkwright’s famous cash register.

Then, if something cost 2 shillings and 6 pence and you handed a one pound note over, the cashier would count back to you as she placed the change in your hand:

  • 2 and 6
  • 3 shillings
  • 4
  • 6
  • 8
  • 10 shillings (at this point the last of the coins had been given to you)
  • one pound (this 10 shillings was a note)

So, when you had all your change, it would have been counted and checked and you would have in your hand one 6 penny coin, one shilling coin, 3 florins (two shillings each coin) and then the 10 shilling note would be on the top of the pile – making it easy for you to quickly put the note in your wallet, then the coins in your pocket and be away.

Sometimes the manual old ways just work out better than the modern ways.

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