Sunday, April 22, 2007


So today, apparently, Xtin is 75 years old and feelin' crotchety.

Today's pointless rant is about the handling of change. Not the kind of change that means different from the way things are, because of course I and all other little old ladies oppose that utterly. I mean the kind of change that you get when you provide a merchant with more cash than was required for the services and/or products that were rendered, and so he passes you back the difference.

Once upon a time, when I was a child, I remember when change was counted back. For you feckless youths who don't know what this means, the process was as follows. Suppose you hand over £5 for something that cost £1.25. The person handling the cash would utter the price of what you had bought and count back the amount to £5, beginning with the lowest denominated currency, thusly:

One pound twenty-five pence. [Hands the 5p] One pound thirty, [hands the 20p] one pound fifty, [hands the 50p] two pounds, [hands the £1s] three, four, five pounds. Thank you.

Well, naturally in the modern day and age this wonderful and transparent practice is impossible because the persons in control of the currency cannot count. However, I am no Luddite. I believe in the great advancements of science. Look at these handy light bulbs! So I am happy to believe that the computers which are telling then how much change they owe me can count. But this has led to the following travesty of handing back:

Three-twenty-five. Ten pounds. [reads the cash register output] Six pounds seventy-five change. [Collects the 75p from the till and puts in palm. Collects fiver from till. Tears off the receipt and sandwiches it with the fiver between thumb and forefinger.] Thank you.

At this point, the clerk places everything in your hand at once, in reverse order. Receipt on the bottom, then the note, and a precarious pile of coins on top of that. This is just the most idiotic and annoying practice I have ever had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of umpty-ump times a week. Don't even get me started on the uselessness of the slippery, thermal-paper receipts which infest my handbags and pockets. If you are lucky enough to get your hand back into the region of your bag without the coinage careering onto the floor/among the impulse-buy sugary snacks/rolling onto the counter from whence the clerk must catch them, there is no way of handling the pile one-handed short of stuffing it in a ball into your nearest receptacle. And why not? Why not, you ask? It is because the only way that a human being can effectively manage crispy flat paper and a bunch of tiny metallic objects is the way that the clerk did it in the first place: by holding the coinage in his palm and handling the paper money with his fingertips. And the only way I will get to do that too, insensitive pillocks, is for you to hand me the everloving damn change first, and THEN give me the paper money, and if you absolutely must, the godforsaken receipt.

That is all.


Acre said...

My least favorite part of this transaction, which is every bit as annoying as you say it is, is that the clerk inevitably has the nerve to look exasperated with you as you hold up the line behind you while you slide the coins into your other hand, put the paper bills in your wallet, the coins away, and then stare stupidly at the receipt as you try to decide what to do with it. The counter is not big enough to just scoot down and deal with things so the next person can get through, and you have all this money in your hands, so you can't just pick up your things and go. If the clerk has a suggestion for how I could do this with more grace and less irritation, I wish he'd just say it instead of looking at me like I'm the idiot.

Heidi the Hick said...

Wow. Acre just said basically exactly what I was planning to say.

I have to admit red faced that in my short "career" as a cashier I regularly counted out the change wrong.