Tuesday, October 21, 2008

paralyzed by multiplication

The coupon will save me twenty cents off per gallon, maximum of fifteen gallons.

At a participating gas station, the attendant, a young girl wearing a necklace with a class of '02 pendant, instructs me to pump, pay, and bring the receipt and coupon to her when finished.

I hand her the receipt and coupon. She looks at the computer monitor to her right.
"Oh, you pumped fifteen gallons."
She's cheery, happy for me. I've maxed out the coupon, I'm taking it for all it's worth.

She stares at me. She looks back at the monitor. She's clinging to the coupon and receipt. And it hits me:
She's powerless, ill-equipped, paralyzed by multiplication.
There is a solution, and it's sitting on the shelf behind her. It's laminated (the company must know its employees). It's a spreadsheet. Her right index finger moves across the x-axis.

She's found the 15. She proceeds down the y-axis, finds the field that tells her how much money I'm owed, and exclaims:
"You get three dollars!"
She's so happy for me. And I'm filled with educational sadness.