I usually go to my local PANERA Bread to work for an hour every Monday morning after dropping my daughter off at school. The staff there has become quite used to my face showing up on a regular basis.
Recently, they’ve been hiring some new cashier staff to man the front registers. These look like holiday “fill-in” folks who are pretty fresh out of school.
This morning I showed up and got the usual breakfast + iced chai latte and a fudge brownie, and the cashier printed the receipt before the register told her what the change was.
She stared at the screen, then looked at the receipt. The conversation went like this:
Me: “Is something wrong?“
Her: “Yes, the register didn’t tell me what your change was.“
Me: “Well, I gave you a $20.00 bill. How much was the total?“
She continued to stare blankly at me. We sat there for an uncomfortable moment of silence while she looked at me with this “help!” look on her face. I said
Me: “So just subtract, you don’t need the register for that.“
Her: “I’m sorry, I’m not good at…“
Me: “…$10.28 should be my change.“
She sighed a breath of relief, leaned over while looking down the galley to where her manager was standing talking to another employee and said “Thank you.”
Do cashiers really not even know how to do basic subtraction now?
Can they really not count, and rely on “The Machine” to tell them what to do and how to react?
I don’t expect these people to know how to do complex algebraic functions, but a competency test for a front-counter cashier should probably include testing whether or not they can add and subtract!
If this really is what we should expect these days, we’re really heading down a slippery slope as a country with our education here.