My wife went to the bank yesterday to make a simple cash deposit of $380, in two $100 bills, and nine $20 bills. A simple and elementary task, or so you would like to believe.
She walks up to the counter, and hands the deposit slip with the cash to the cashier. She (the cashier) takes the bills, and then types furiously into the computer.
”(9*20) + (2*100)”
Apparently, the computer doesn’t spew out an answer. So she furiously types into the computer again. There seems to be a computer glitch, and she’s stumped.
She leans over to the cashier next to her (who’s twiddling his thumbs, doing nothing) and says,
”Hey John, what’s 9*20? There’s some problem with my computer.”
My wife’s standing there, and her jaw drops in shock upon hearing this question.
Meanwhile, John’s breaking into a sweat.
”Uh….I’m not sure….9 times 20 is….”
My wife’s getting impatient. She has work to do in her lab, and doesn’t have all day for this circus. So she leaps in to rescue them.
”One hundred and eighty”, she says.
John looks at her in awe, and says ”I think you’re right! You must be really good with numbers.”
This latest revelation makes my wife reel, and wonder if she’s hallucinating. Time flashes back to when she almost decided to do a BSc. in Mathematics. Then comes the icing on the cake.
”Math really isn’t my thing, I was terrible at it in school.”, says John.
It's more than my wife can bear. She mumbles something polite and leaves, staggering out under the shock of the whole thing.
9*20. No more, no less.
And these are the Cashiers in Banks whom we trust with our money?
Post script: What does one need to know to become a bank cashier? Do they really need to hire math wizards who count with their fingers and toes (and therefore can’t count beyond 20?). I’m in awe of the cashiers in little, obscure banks in India (State Bank of Mysore, anyone?) who count faster than you can key in the numbers into a calculator.