Life in progress

Calculators – The downfall of mankind?

48 Comments

So I’m in the grocery store today. You can probably figure out from the title where this is going.

For my international friends I’ll share some background to the story. Recently in Canada we did away with the physical penny, which means if you’re paying with cash they now round it off to the closest 5 cents. Not so with debit and credit cards. So my bill came to $4.07. I asked for a plastic bag and the cashier added another $.06 onto the bill to make it $4.13, which is what I paid with my debit card.

I commented to the cashier, since there was no one else in line, that the government and/or the stores are really making money on this penny thing, because if I was paying cash she would have asked me for $4.05 but the plastic bag would have cost me $.10 because $4.13 would have rounded up to $4.15. She looked confused. So I went on to explain that the difference between $4.05 and $4.15 wasΒ  more than the $.06 that the bag cost but by that time I’d lost her. She was staring in the other direction looking for customers (that weren’t there) and ignoring me.

More and more I’m seeing this. As the kids come out of school and start working in stores with cash registers that tell them how much change to give (when they deal with cash at all) they’re at a complete loss if they ever have to figure it out for themselves. I should probably add that the cashier I had today was in her early twenties.

Between this and text shorthand, I’m all but ready to give up on the future of mankind.

Author: Linda G. Hill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

48 thoughts on “Calculators – The downfall of mankind?

  1. I watched a video not too long ago wherein the were teachers in a school in the U.S. who were discussing the new curriculum. In it, they were showing how math was going to be taught. The bottom line: if the student can explain how they came at the answer, they get credit for doing it, even if it is wrong. This was in the comments, people couldn’t figure how a student can get the question credit if the answer is wrong. Then there was another article showing how a advanced test-prep book was rewording the Constitution. The students are expected to learn just enough to pass, and advanced students were being taught the wrong definition and wording to the historical document this country was built upon. I am so glad I don’t have kids in school right now.

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    • It almost makes you wonder if the governments are providing this level of education (or lack thereof) in order to better control the population.
      There goes the paranoia again.
      But if you think about it, we have at our fingertips all the knowledge that we can possibly hope for, which is something no civilization has had in the history of earth. If knowledge is power, what power does the government have over us except to try to keep us stupid? It starts at school…

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      • Exactly. Paranoia or not, it is true. Do you know there were text being printed before the 2008 elections were over which already had O’Bama listed as President. Seriously makes you wonder, especially when people put the pages on the Internet for us to see. Why do people just sit there and scoff? Sheep: it is the only answer.

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  2. Oh, have you hit the nail on the head with this one…I work in a burger joint which employs quite a few teenagers, and many have asked me how much change do I give back, I’ve put in the wrong change tender. Then they look at me in astonishment when I come up with the right answer off the top of my head. When all is said and done, they say to me…how’d you do that so fast, you must be a mathematical genius…that phrase in self couldn’t be further from the truth, what is the truth is the fact that UNLIKE THEM, I wasn’t allowed to use a calculator in school, I had to use the brains I was born with, and that wasn’t easy for me, cause I suck when It comes to math. Making change comes easy to me. I’ve also been a cashier at most of my jobs for my entire working life, so I’ve also had plenty of practice. So many schools are putting these kids at a DIS advantage by letting them use calculators to figure out problems. Our brains have the capacity to hold LOTS AND LOTS of information, but sadly we don’t use a 3rd of what they’re capable of holding. Why? because we use devices such as the calculator, and our brains just don’t absorb what we’re looking at. I call myself a hands on learner, I always have been, If I’m learning something new, I have to be able to do it myself with someone standing in the wings telling me how to do it, and I catch on extremely quickly and go solo in less than an hour’s time, if it takes me that long. I also will turn around and train people the same way. Your brain tends to retain more doing it that way. If you are the type that’s a visual learner, and you can pick up on things simply by looking at them, and retain the info, that’s fantastic, I envy you. Unfortunately, a lot of todays kids aren’t given that opportunity, the techilogical age we live in, has a lot of people using hand held devices to learn things on, and they end up shriveling up their brains in the process. I pity these people. I truly do. I plan to stay very old school, it’s not so bad being old school. You never know when you might need us to feed you information that we learned the old fashioned way.

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    • It’s so true that people only use a fraction of their brain’s capacity these days. You take telephones as well. Who needs to remember a phone number when your phone does it for you? What people don’t seem to understand is that if you don’t use it, you lose it. And I actually blame phones for kids not being able to remember their times tables.
      It’s so sad. People like you and I need to bring this issue home with those around us. Or else society is doomed.
      Thanks for the well thought-out comment! πŸ˜€

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  3. It was strange for me on my recent trip home…this rounding up and down…I guess we have to ask people “Nickel for your thoughts” from now on…

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  4. its a bothersome globally. I too will not give up

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  5. Absolutely. What happened to learning mental arithmetic at school. Don’t get me on to the subject of the use text speak either, I can only just about handle emoticons. Great post!

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    • It’s all these handy little hand-held devices that are to blame. I mean, seriously, who remembers a phone number any more? Ah, there’s another rant for another day. haha

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  6. I’m relieved to learn that this issue isn’t exclusive to Americans. Sometimes, just for kicks, I wait until after they’ve rung up the transaction so that my change amount is showing and then say that I have a penny or whatever to make the change such that I don’t have to have anymore pennies. Some will say they can’t take the money because they’ve already counted out the change, or void and redo the entire transaction instead of simply being able to figure it out in their little heads.

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  7. Linda I am with you all the way on this subject, not on is adding and subtraction a mystery but maths in general is alien to them further more thanks to text speak and spell checkers on pcs I fear that language and the written word’s days are numbered (no pun intended but it fits). God help us all.

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  8. Not a common sight this, here in India, but yes, I do know a few kids in stores who do that…!

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  9. It’s been steadily degrading for 30 or more years now – I learned to count, to make sure I didn’t get shortchanged by the cashiers – – LOL
    Actually, I started working in restaurants at age 13, back when you had to add the ticket, calculate sales tax and give change back all without a cash register/calculator….LOL

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  10. I have noticed a particular decline in cash handling, myself. No one seems to be able to count back change, and the bills are never in order. It is a definite pet peeve for me.

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  11. sad but true!!! in every country, I think. It’s definitely noticeable in the US

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  12. I had no idea this penny thing happened. Sounds so confusing, or rather, it sounds as if it’s destined to make things confusing. And what a rip! “Rounding off to the nearest 5” — come on. All I see here is an unfair system. What’s worse? The inability to correctly figure it all out or the odd decision to enforce this rule?

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    • I thought this was an issue they were debating down in the U.S. as well – getting rid of the penny. Anyway, I believe it will be this way for a while, until the penny goes completely out of circulation (meaning the banks won’t even take them back anymore) and then everything will automatically be rounded off.

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      • Methinks prices should be rounded off too then. Wouldn’t that be the logical step? haha, not that you are the spokesperson for this…hahaaaaa

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        • That’s probably what the stores will eventually do. The trick will be to make it so the prices PLUS the tax come out to increments of 5 cents. The penny has only been gone for a couple of months so far.

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  13. It is shaping to be a scary future.

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  14. I had an incident with change. The bill was $2.33. I didn’t want a bunch of change back. So I gave them $3.08. After the confused look the cashier handed me…not three quarters as I had planned…but I got two quarters, two dimes and a nickel. And, yes, it is the same amount but I wanted fewer coins. I’m pretty sure the kid still didn’t get it. *smh*

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  15. Yikes, I’m from the US, and similar things like this happen here! I’m only 18, and I’m a little concerned for the future πŸ˜› xxoo

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