I’ve used the word Innumeracy in a number of posts here to describe how people seem less and less able to grasp simple mathematical concepts. Today, I’d like to share what I view as a new low in my innumerate observations.
I went into a store (doesn’t mater which, and I don’t wish to insult other employees of that chain) which honored its competitor’s coupons. In this case, a particular brand of soup, priced at $3.19, but on the coupon they were 4/$5. I offer the cashier the coupon in advance of her starting to ring anything up, hoping that will save her having to re-ring or void anything out. She looks at the coupon quizzically, and reaches for a calculator. “$7.76” I tell her. Huh? I ask if she’s looking for the difference between full price and the coupon price. Nope, she was trying to calculate how much each can would be. The calculator had .80 in its display, as she had entered 4/5 which of course is .80. So, not only could this cashier not divide $5 by 4 in her head, but even using a calculator to help was beyond her. Are my expectations too high? Or have people stopped bothering to acquire skills that I consider to be needed to pass fourth grade? Is it me, or does this disturb you, too?