#885 Paying for something with exact change

get-rid-of-itFeel this pain: You’re a cashier in a busy store at holiday season.

Now, say you’re good at your job and you’ve been there a while. You’ve long memorized the produce codes and you bag like a champion. You’re keeping up with the traffic, whipping customer after customer through the till in no time flat. You’re rocking the credit cards, you’re rocking the debit cards, and your line is the most sought-after line at the store.

Yes, it seems like nothing can stop you. You are Cashatron, a top-secret, beta-version prototype of the world’s most highly efficient cashier.

And if you’ve been there before, if you’ve ever cashed and cashed hard, if you’ve lived the cash life and have the varicose veins to prove it, then you know what I’m talking about. And you also know the one thing that can trip you up. Yes, you know the stick in the bike spokes for a veteran cashier is simply …

… running out of change.

empty-those-pockets1It happens all of a sudden, too. One moment you’re whipping through the line and then suddenly you stare up at a customer and apologize profusely as you awkwardly dump two handfuls of sweaty coins into their hands. You look back at the long line and just hope somebody else opens up a lane while you wait for change to arrive. It’s a terrible feeling. And it makes us ol’ cashing veterans shudder just thinking about it.

And that’s why it’s so great for cashiers when someone pays with exact change. And as an added bonus, customers get to empty their pockets and lighten their loads. Yes, it’s a win-win situation.

Plus, there’s a Bonus Round, too! That’s when you pay for something with exact change … with every single coin you have in your pocket. I’m talking about when you have seven coins in your pocket that add up to 74 cents and the bill comes to $5.74. Nope, no breaking a ten for you, because you just won the bonus round jackpot.

Now, this bonus round is pretty rare, but a big hit for everybody whenever it happens. How excited are you when you realize you pulled it off? For a moment it’s sort of like you beat the currency system. No more change for you, Changeless Wonder! Now you’re all bills, all the time, just rocking the sidewalk with those light, empty pockets.

And how does that make you feel?


Photos from: here and here

45 thoughts on “#885 Paying for something with exact change

  1. Great post and so true. Reminds me of the story of the Scottish bus driver (Scots are known for their thrift). A chap got on the bus and gave the bus driver the right change.

    The Scotsman looked at the cash carefully.

    The chap who got on the bus said “what’s wrong, is it the right cash?”

    To which the bus driver responded “Aye, but it’s only just right!”

  2. How do you get 74 cents with 7 coins? Four of them have to be pennies, leaving you with three coins to add up to 70 cents…

  3. Oh dear this reminds me of when I was a cashier when I was 17 at a supermarket. I used to shortchange people to be sure I was not short in my drawer.

  4. I try to always pay for my morning Tim Horton’s run with exact change. My usual order comes to $2.59, and I love getting rid of those 9 pennies! Having exact change in a Drive Thru line is great, because you speed up the line for everyone behind you. And let’s face it – we could all use an extra 15 seconds in the morning!

  5. I am Cashatron. Leader of the Cashierbots of CVS who wage war against the Seniorcons who pay with nonexact change and three coupons for a single item!

    I hate running out of change. What’s worse: Running out of both register tape AND change, as well as a Seniorcon paying for an $8 item with a $100 bill.

  6. I beg to differ. Very few things slow a line down more than a little old lady digging for exact change…and digging…and digging…

    It doesn’t just have to be old ladies, either! Tourists of all sorts. I used to work in a resort town, working the front counter in the store (sometimes on my own!), and some moron would take a full minute to find just the right amount of pennies. Argh!

    1. How about when they spend a few minutes searching for that pesky .91 in change, only to find they only have .87, even after checking each and every compartment in their purse, and all their pockets also. Then they move on to looking for the exact amount of bills, only to hand over a $10 at the end. Time is money, people.

      I usually use the credit card, collect the miles, and do not worry about the change.

  7. Not that I’m trying to be incendiary or anything, but why is it that women wait until they’ve finished packing up before they get out their purse? Then they spend precious minutes trying to find their reward cards or coupons, before finally dumping a load of incorrect change down before the cashier. Do women hate cashiers? Why can’t they do all this while waiting in line?

    I hope you can answer these questions for me, Internet.

  8. Occasionally this ceases to be awesome when a customer decides they’d like to dig for some change after you’ve already cashed them out.

  9. I save all my pennies in my car. And then, the next time I do McDonald’s drive-through, I fling all the pennies into the server’s face.

    No, actually, I put the pennies into the Ronald McDonald House box right underneath the window.

  10. In college I was the king of guessing how much the stuff in the grocery cart was worth. Even though I always had a different amount in my pocket I always spent almost all of it. I was usually left with less than a dollar after shopping, and never had to bear the shame of going over and picking some stuff to leave behind. Unsurprisingly noone ever acknowledged my talent in the area. One time -and I swear- I was able to cover a grocery bill that was over a hundred dollars, with couple of pennies I found after scavengin’ a bit, in one of the small unfunctional pockets of my pants. Let me tell you, when I walked out with a bunch of groceries and absolutely no change or money whatsoever, the victorious feeling was so overwhelming that I was almost expecting cameras outside:

    -Congratulations B, you have no money at all!
    -Thanks Ken, I knew I could do it…

  11. I know I love the feeling!I always try to give the correct change (or as close to correct change) when i can! I never feel guiltier than when i go in and have nothing but a fifty, and it only cost like $6 or something (especially if it’s a small business, like a coffee shop or something, those conglomerates, at least have more back up available)

    but what i HATE is when you you have the following situation
    The transaction costs $48.25, so you go into your purse/wallet and automatically reach for that $50, but wait you look again you’ve actually got $8.25 in change, so you hand the whole lot to the teller ($58.25), because lets face it, it gives the teller that change that they’ll probably be running out of soon, and lightens your wallet (and you get a nice crisp $10 note back :)
    But the Teller just looks at you as if your brain dead, and tells you you’ve given them too much, and tries to palm the change back to you!!!
    that’s an situation that just gets up my goat! I mean i respect tellers, and god knows that have to put up with a lot of a*holes, and just plain annoying situations (especially in the holiday season). But seriously if you can’t do that simple addition (or at least put it in the machine to figure out for you), you really need to head back to school and brush up on those math skills (or as the case may be, actually go to those math classes)

  12. I used to try to do this until I realized you can pay with a check card and ALWAYS have exact change, plus you don’t have to carry that pesky cash around everywhere. Really brings back the memories though =).

  13. I used to write lists of “100 loves.” I’ve written 4, I don’t know why I haven’t done one since January, but I just discovered this blog today- and it’s really neat seeing things that were on my lists :)

  14. I was working one Sunday, and the people who worked last night left me with 5 SINGLES! 5! With my boss away and nothing open, I was trying to figure out a way to get through a Sunday at the bakery with so few singles.
    When I very apologetically explained to a woman my problem, she saved me by changing out no less than ten singles. I was so grateful I let her have a brownie.

    I know this is only mildly relevant, but it was awesome.

  15. I love getting rid of my change and feeling lighter as I do so. We all need to give exact change when we can and lighten our load and make the receiver happier. Good post.

  16. So true! I worked retail for a year and I hated the feeling of running out of change and people getting mad at you, like you did it on purpose! But the bonus round is amazing! Love this post!!

  17. And don’t even get me started on the ones who refuse to actually give you the money in your hand! They toss it at you from across the counter, forcing you to pick it up off the counter.

    1. Me too!! that really annoys me, and when you try to give them their change and they snap it out of your hand so they don’t actually contaminate their skin!! The best part is I work in a cafe so they avoid touching me, but they’ll drink the coffee I pour and the sandwiches I make, not to mention the money! I know my hands are clean but who knows where that money’s been!!!

  18. That nearly happened to me yesterday, the total was £2.80 and I had £2.81 left in my purse, I stood and counted it all out and was like ‘awesome!!” It made me happy lol

  19. It is awesome to drain those last few coppers, but I always find it kinda awkward, you stand there while they irritably count up your change praying you’ve got it right, waiting like a nervous child to be dismissed with a quick nod or a muttered ‘all there’. But when that moment comes the flood of relief is AWESOME :)

  20. A smart cashier will call for change before they run out. Nothing slows a transaction down like exact change. And pennies should eliminated, and dimes should be larger… All these things would speed up lines

    1. I’ll have you know, (I assume), young man, just the other day we got coffee at a drive-through. The bill was five dollars and seventy six ot ninety four cents, all of which was payed for with about 20 dimes, 30 nickels and the balance in pennies. Yep, we cleaned out a loot bag we found in the old truck and the coffe tasted good as ever; worth every single piece of change! Much to my delighted surprise, mine even had a smile in foam on top! Right Bekah:)

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