January 13, 2009


Today is the first day in a long time that my husband has gone to work and I've stayed home. When he's here, I stick to him like glue. And there have even been a couple of days where I worked while he was at home. Hence the lack of blogging; who wants to sit at the computer when the coolest person on the planet is in her living room?

Yesterday at work, I witnessed another example of what Rachel Lucas would label as Idiocracy Watch. Three women were trying to figure out the price of an item that was $5 and 70% off. They never even came close to guessing, just urging each other to figure it out. One of them eventually took her cell phone out and said, "Five...times...seven...zero...aw man, there's no percent function." So she deleted the math and started over, ending up in the same conundrum. It was what plants crave, seriously. Percent function? Dang. Finally, they turned to me and asked me what the price would be. I said that half of $5 is $2.50 and half of that again is $1.25, so it'd be somewhere around $1.40. They looked at me like I had explained relativistic physics.



I know I bragged about knitting math, but really, I'm not that good at math. I can do arithmetic and algebra. And usually I prefer scratch paper. I would've struggled for a few moments to figure out 38% of a number. But 70% of a nice round number like five? Yeesh. And I was even WRONG by ten cents, so shame on me a little. But that was off the top of my head in about 15 seconds, so close enough. Closer than they got, which was "I was told there would be no math in shopping."

Posted by Sarah at January 13, 2009 08:13 AM | TrackBack

Wonder how many of them had college degrees?...**graduate** degrees, maybe?

Posted by: david foster at January 13, 2009 08:59 AM

Um, next time tell 'em to multiply ten percent by 7? So 50 cents times 7 would've got them down the path and they might've left a bread crumb or two, even. I find it amazing that lots of people can't calculate a 20% tip in their heads. Seriously, 10% times 2? Pathetic. Their heads would've exploded if you'd tried to explain that putting a decimal point in makes it a percent for their cellphone, no?

Posted by: Betsy Wuebker at January 13, 2009 09:06 AM

Oh, I'm such a math idiot. It's not even funny. But I would have done that EXACTLY the way you did it.

I just asked my 10 year old how she would have figured it out, and she said she would have taken 70 cents off every dollar and counted up by 30s.

I asked my 8 year old and she said, "I have no idea." I'm going to have to work on that one.

But that's how I judge things - if my 10 year old can figure it out without a problem, well then... If my 8 year old has no problem figuring something out, then I REALLY roll my eyes. And if the 5 year old boy knows the answer? Then I might have to intervene with sarcasm.

Posted by: airforcewife at January 13, 2009 09:31 AM

Saw you over at The Trooper's Wife. Glad I did! Enjoy your stuff. Will be back.

Posted by: Meadowlark at January 13, 2009 10:25 AM

I would subtract 70% from 100%, and multiply that (30%) by $5.

I've already told you this story, but for the amusement of your readers ...

Four years ago at McDonald's, I ordered a little over $2 ($1 fries + a large drink) and was charged about $4. The cashier wouldn't believe me when I said I was being overcharged. After all, the register said I owed $4.xx. (It hadn't occurred to him that he had pressed the wrong button[s?].) I stood my ground and fortunately the manager came along, believed me, and I only had to pay $2.xx.

I do have a new postscript for you: that McDonald's has been demolished!

Posted by: Amritas at January 13, 2009 11:46 AM

a little over $2

No, more like about $2.40. Still, I was being overcharged. I actually told the teenage cashier that a dollar fries plus a $1.xx drink is not four dollars and he still wouldn't believe me! 1 + 1 = 4!?

Idiocracy isn't just a movie. We're living in it right now.

Posted by: Amritas at January 13, 2009 12:19 PM

I'm a math dunce - but I at least know how to use a decimal point on a calculator! I would rather type the decimal than use the percent function, anyway. I'm not sure I remember how to use the percent function, actually . . .

I'm getting better about figuring it out in my head, but if I'm rushed or distracted (it's deep thinking for me!), I only get flustered and lose all mathematical capabilities. Yay for cell phone calculators!

Posted by: Deltasierra at January 13, 2009 03:47 PM

Oooo, shopping math. Fun!

10% of $5.00 is 50 cents...just move that old decimal point over 1 place.

50 cents x 7 = $3.50

$5.00 - $3.50 = $1.50

Ta-dah! And I STINK at math.

Posted by: Guard Wife at January 13, 2009 04:43 PM

I would have just done the 30%. Don't know why, but that's the way I think. to me 30% is more "user friendly" than 70%. Personal idiosyncracy.

Posted by: Ruth H at January 13, 2009 06:01 PM

I would have done the same as GuardWife: figured out 10% of $5 and then multiplied by 7 and subtracted that amount from $5. Not hard.

My parents would always make me calculate the tip for dinner. And, if I was able to calculate the difference between the regular price of something and the sale price of something, I was given the difference. Nice way to encourage mental math as I never had pencil and paper when we were out shopping.

I'm a math nerd...

Posted by: HomefrontSix at January 13, 2009 09:42 PM