I try to minimize the amount of time and gas that I use during my weekly grocery shopping trips. As it happened, because I had taken advantage of sale items in previous weeks, the pantry and freezer were pretty well stocked. I just needed to get two items for the laundry room.
I went to my local supermarket, quickly found them and headed to the checkout. I normally prefer using the self-checkout aisles as I find it faster, but yesterday all of the machines were in use and there was a long line behind the customers who were waving their purchases over the scanners.
I happened to notice there was a cashier who was open and no one was in her line. Quickly I dashed over and set my two items on the conveyor.
When I picked up my purchases I noted that they totaled $9.99. I quickly computed an additional $.81 based on our lofty sales tax rate and had put the total purchase price of $10.80 in my jacket so that I could feed it into the machine and make my getaway as quickly as possible. Now I would just hand it to this young lady instead.
She greeted me in a very friendly manner, scanned my two items and announced that I owed the store $10.80. I reached in my jacket, pulled out the money and said, “There you are – $10.80 on the nose.”
She really looked surprised and said, “Wow, you’re good. How did you know that was the amount you owed?”
I explained that I had added the prices of the two items as I was walking to the checkout and then computed the sales tax based on our 8.1% rate, added that to the sub-total and bingo – that’s how I knew what my total was going to be.
I really expected her to say something like, “Boy, I wish I were good at math like that” or, “You must be a math whiz.”
Instead she said, “Oh, 8.1%. Is that what our sales tax rate is?”
I politely asked, “Didn’t you know that?”
“No”, she said, “the machine figures that out. All I do is push the button.”
Perhaps one day the definitive book on the legacy of our technological age will be written. It will be brief – which is as well as there will be few who will still be able to read. I suspect that it will be entitled,
“JUST PUSH THE BUTTON”