Showing posts with label innumeracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label innumeracy. Show all posts

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Do I look like a walking calculator?

One of the drinks in the bar at the Wayside Tavern is priced at $10 (Ten Dollars).

On a quiet afternoon, one of the regulars is in a school of four, and orders 4 (four) of this drink.

When the barmaid serves up the 4 (four) drinks [@$10 each] the customer asks what the total price will be.

The barmaid smiles sweetly and announces that she'll just have to "...go back to the cash register and check".

.... Back at the cash register she reads the total, looks up and cheerfully announces that "Four of those will $40".

So continues life behind the bar!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not one of Mine

Fronting the cashier console at the truck stop, Mine Host plops his late night snack purchases on the counter.

The attendant is most unappealing. This young slattern is dressed in a particularly ill-designed tracksuit, is overweight & has the dead eyes of someone who cares not a whit for the world. Though she is barely old enough, Mine Host hazards a private guess that she is a single mother, as likely was her own mother.
She has that dead, dullard, unmotivated demeanour one expects from the terminally entitled & terminally unintelligent.

The usual staff appear like a jack-in-the-box. Filipinos all, they are her antithesis. Dressed in pressed uniforms, with a cheery demeanour & a bright sparkle in their eye.

As a trio they are a clear example of why employers are desperate for overseas workers. The bottom of the barrel has been well & truly scraped in Australia.

Anyone who doesn't have a job in Australia plain doesn't want one.

A charming Filipino lad is training the puffy faced & unwashed female caucasian. He supervises as she processes Mine Host's purchase of three separate items.

A sausage roll,
A pie,
A bag of Smith's chips.

She lethargically picks up the nearest item,the sausage roll, and waves it in front of the scanner.

*beep* *beep* *beep* She waves it back & forth, registering it three times.

She then pushes all three items back to Mine Host, & quotes him the amount shown on the cash register....

..... the Filipino lad smoothly & unobtrusivly presses a few buttons on the register to void the latter two of her scans, then asks her to scan the pie & the chips as separate items in the sale.

She has no idea why he "stopped" her sale. There is no confusion or misundertanding in her eyes, just dullness. If he wants her to scan it this way, fine. And while ever he is standing there beside her, she'll probably do sales "his" way.

It is patently obvious that she will never understand what was wrong with just picking up the sausage roll & scanning it three times. After all, there were three items in the sale.

Friday, May 07, 2010

10 - 2 = ?

Kylie keeps her job by a most slender margin. Almost hourly Mine Host ponders the viability of dismissing her.

A customer at the bar has been served an order to the value of $29.80
He tenders a $20 note & a $10 note to Kylie.

This flummoxes her.

Kylie is 21. For more than 15 years cash registers have calculated change. Every sale she makes she uses the "Amount Tendered" facility on the Cash Register. Not this time.

She furrows her brow & gazes uncomprehendingly at the cash in her hand. She has no idea how much change to give.

She attempts to subtract $29.80 from $30.00 using pencil & notepaper. She becomes more & more panicky as she is unable to get an answer that is satisfactory to the customer.
She silences the customer with an icy glare (he is trying to tell her how much change he wants).
Her sums on the notepaper have revealed several different answers. The customers are telling her a totally different answer (0.20)

She knows the customer (motivated by greed) will be telling her an inflated amount, she knows the rest of the customers (motivated by malice, for their own entertainment they surely are trying to get her into trouble with the boss) will be telling her a wrong amount.

Why doesn't she press "30.00" into the waiting cash register? The current total on it is "29.80".
For reasons unfathomable, people do things like this, every day. anyone who has dealt with the entire spectrum of humanity will know.

Minutes pass, the other customers are waiting. She lets them wait, as she hasn't yet completed the transaction, and to punish them for telling her the wrong answer to her dilemma (0.20)

Finally she summons the bar manager on duty, her boyfriend Dave.

"Daaaaaaaaave" she bleats plaintively. The state of panic she has worked herself into means she won't be much use for a while.

Dave arrives, sends her on a 5 minute breather, and tosses a Twenty Cent coin to the unhappily waiting customer.

So continues life behind the bar.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Innumeracy (part 2)

A staff member had borrowed to buy a car. Quite common, most of our society does the same.

The car was to be paid off in weekly installments.

The borrower was very pleased to have a car, and could well afford one.
However, here is where the attitude of the borrower differed from what one would expect.

Very little direct connection was drawn between the convenience of possessing a car & the weekly repayments.

The weekly payments were resented, as they used up money which could be better used (for longer drinking sessions, or getting new tattoos, and so on.)

Not making a payment was tried, this prompted considerable ire from the finance company, leading to an increase in the awe with which the finance company was held.

Some time passed & with it came a subsidence of the awe in which the finance company was held.

Eventually came a week when the borrower spent their meagre pay on "more important" things. Meagre yes, for the borrower was apt to not turn up for work. Work is resented, while wages are not.

The connection between "work" & "pay" is starkly demonstrated each time the borrower fails to turn up for work. This has lead to a grasping of the "no work = no wages" principle. A principle which is resented as equally as the "no payments = no car" principle.

Many tricks have been tried to get around the "no work = no pay" conundrum. None of the alternatives to "working" mangage to produce any actual "wages" and the borrower (resentfully) turns up to work most of the time. This is called "character" (or lack of).

There has however been more success with the "no payments = no car" dilemma.

The week when the borrower spent all their pay on "more imporant" stuff, they apprehensively phoned the finance company to explain (due to lingering memories of the ire apt to be exhibted by the finance company when no payment is forthcoming).

When the finance company learned that the borrower had been quite ill, and had large medical bills "this week" it was remarkably understanding, and allowed the payment to be deferred.

Armed with this new knowledge that payment was not necessary, the borrower underwent a change, suddenly seeing things on the bright side, for a time even turning up to work cheerfully and without prompting.

The finance company, suddenly confronted with a barrage of illnesses, family emergencies, unexpected hardships etc on the part of the borrower, was very understanding and agreed to endless deferrments of payment.

The borrower, thrilled at how easily hoodwinked the finance company was proving to be, embarked on spending the newly released funds. Parties were held, electronic luxury goods were purchased, late night booze-ups became more common, etc etc.

In conversation with the borrower, a concerned co-worker discovered that the borrower had no comprehension that all monies borrowed ultimately must be repaid, and that every skipped payment was adding to the interest bill, and adding to the term of the loan.

"But its a two-year loan, next June I'm finished with the payments, & then they can't do anything to me!" was the cheerful response, demonstrating total ignorance of the concept of debt & repayment.

The borrower still quite often goes about spending the amount of the repayment, making sure to phone the finance company to explain the illness/funeral/sick nephew. (Although this only has to be kept up until "next June")

The notion that the finance company hasn't actually been outsmarted is cheerfully treated with mild scorn.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Innumeracy (part 1)

Two things will send a pub broke in a very short time, and often do.

1) "Mates rates" on grog
2) Lack of diligence on the wage cost.

It is very easy for bar wages to jump from 16% of turnover to 25% of turnover.

At least three times I have ended (or severly hampered) the career of an experienced bar manager.

On each occassion a newly hired or newly promoted bar manager was going to "skin cats" by significantly increasing the bar turnover of the Wayside Tavern.

On each occassion the only achievement of the "cat skinner" was to jump the bar wages to 25% + of gross turnover.

None of them heeded the subsequent "no coffee" discussion in my office about how the bar is not to be awash with staff.

Each of them was mystified when their position was terminated without notice (but with corresponding BLACK spot on their CV) within a few weeks.

Quite possibly they will each go to their grave believing Mine Host to be a fool. For they believed they were "making money" for their employer. How could they get this idea, when revenue was static, but costs had nearly doubled?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

1 + 1 = ?

One of Mine Host's frustrations has finally boiled over.

Schoolteachers will believe me, but the rest of you: Get your heads around this:

The average time taken by driveway staff at the completion of their shift, to count out from the takings the $700 starting float is 15 minutes, although some staff regularly take 30 minutes, and one or two of them take up to an hour performing the seemingly simple task of counting to $700 (pictured).

I stress, that all they were doing was counting out the $700 starting float for the next shift to use, NOT counting the entire takings for the day. (Takings are counted by someone else)

Counting to 700 is not too difficult you say?

Sadly, only 1 in 3 people hired for driveway work are capable of counting $700 in cash into a pile.

Counting to 700 need not be done in your head, but by moving cash from one pile to another until 700 is reached. Very similar to dealing cards.

(Sounds simple doesn't it? In fact it is just like using those coloured rods to help with addition & subtraction in the early years of primary school)

To make it easier Mine Host gave them bank issue change pads, which have denominations, columns & everything all ruled out & labelled. (should make it really easy, HAH .. I should have known!)

This only made it more complex for them.

LESS than 1 in 3 staff are able to correctly fill out this change pad, detailing how they reached the total of (hopefully) $700.

As rare as it is for someone to actually count to $700 and get it right, it is even rarer for the amount they write on the change pad to match what they counted.

It is almost beyond the comprehension of Mine Host that people can leave school and be totally & completely incapable of counting out $700 from a pile of cash.

This is not calculus, this is not algebra, this is not working out the cubic metreage of earth removed for a dam, this is not measuring the cubic capacity of the wheat silos.

It is simple addition, there is not even any subtraction required (the concept of subtraction seems to be beyond many people)

The culmination of despair came one evening when Mine Host was showing a school leaver how to close up the shop, and at the part where we count out $700 the lad just stared in incomprehension at a pile of cash when Mine Host casually instructed "Oh, & while I do such & such, can you just grab $700 from the takings & put it back in the cash register"

Some 45 minutes of careful instruction later Mine Host realised that despite having moveable cash (chips to push around which measure what he has counted) this fellow was never going to be able to count to $700.

After years of persevering with trying to teach what must be the simplest of arithmetic to boneheads (i.e. how to count to 700) Mine Host has given up, and issued a directive that all driveway staff are to henceforth bundle up the entire contents of their cash register drawer, and deliver it to the cashier, (who is capable of counting money accurately)