Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tales From The Grocery: Math Is Hard!

A year ago I got a second job as a cashier at a grocery store in order to pay off some bills. It was a miserable, humiliating and demoralizing experience in every measurable sense, and I got the hell out of there as soon as my bills were paid. I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who has to work in such a place.

Here's a special Math Is Hard edition of Tales From The Grocery. All Tales are 100% true. Enjoy.

• A lady came through my checkout line and was buying four 6-Packs of Pepsi. She stared very intently at the register screen as I rang them up. Suddenly she screeched, “Those are supposed to be 4 for $10!” I looked at the screen and each 6-Pack was ringing up at $2.50. I said “They are.” Again she bellowed, “They’re supposed to be 4 for $10! I want them for $10! I'm not leaving until I get them for $10! I want to speak to a manager!”

For a second I considered just pushing one of the non-functioning buttons on the register, making a "boop" noise with my mouth and saying, "There! It's all fixed!"

In the end though I sighed hard and explained to her that as a general rule, four times $2.50 works out to $10.


• One day the store had a sale on select candy bars, five for $2. A woman came up to my register and asked me how much just one would cost. This was a grown-ass woman who drove a car and had a job and she asked me this. I sighed again, expelling the last tattered remains of my soul from the hollow husk of my body and told her 40¢.


• One week the store was running a special in which buying ten select items would take $5 off your bill. The register was programmed to automatically take the $5 off; I didn't have to remember to do so.

A lady came through my line with a cart load of groceries. After I rang them all up she said, "I bought the ten items, did I get the $5 off? I want that $5 off." I looked at the register screen and it said "minus $10." I said, "Nope, you got $10 off. You must have bought some extras of the sale items."

She started getting indignant, as today's Entitled American tends to do and said, "I'm supposed to get $5 off! I want the $5 off! Where is my $5 off?" I pointed out to her yet again that she was getting a full $10 off, rather than $5. Again she shrieked, "I WANT THAT $5 OFF!!!"

Finally I said, "Are you really arguing with me about getting $10 off your groceries instead of $5?" At last reality set in and she realized what she'd been demanding and clammed up.


  1. Wow! I'm glad your bills are paid off. I worked in art supply stores selling supplies and doing repro-graphics for 10 years. I know where you're coming from!


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