End of civ­i­liza­tion? Or just part of the process of change

The China Post - - TV & COMICS -

Dear An­nie: I re­cently rode on the New York State Thruway. My toll was US$ 2.25. I gave the toll col­lec­tor, who ap­peared to be a re­cent high school grad­u­ate, a US$ 5 bill plus a quar­ter. I saw him count out three quar­ters, and when I saw that he was go­ing for some sin­gles, I said, “I want three sin­gles, please.” All of a sud­den, it dawned him how this worked and I heard him say, “Ohhh!”

What are the schools teach­ing these kids? I knew this when I was in the fourth grade. — K.

Dear K.: Schools still teach math­e­mat­ics, but we aren’t sure they teach the vari­ables of count­ing out change. And since most peo­ple now use credit cards, debit cards or elec­tronic pay op­tions on their cell­phones ( and cashiers use reg­is­ters that tell them what the change should be), we aren’t sure a toll col­lec­tor fresh out of high school would come across this type of cal­cu­la­tion of­ten enough for it to be au­to­matic. But we’d bet if you saw this same kid in a year, he wouldn’t have any prob­lem at all.

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