This week is Maths Week in Ireland so this story is dedicated to Miss Quinn´s 4th Class in Blarney Street , Cork. We had a great skype call today when they quizzed me about the blog and life in Argentina. Read and enjoy boys!!
Dark, in the evening after work, there are crazy long queues in Disco supermarket down the block. Lines that don’t seem to move at all, even at the caja rapidas that limit shoppers to 15 purchases. It took me a while to figure out why; my initial theory disgracefully blamed the old and frail as they’re allowed move up the queue. Standing in the long line, I wished I had gone to a different counter, envying those lined on my left and right. Or even madder, imagined being a superhero that could make queues disappear with my magic eyes.
That is until the penny dropped and I realised to my shame that the fault lay with me and my fellow feather-brained fumblers who hadn´t prepared properly in advance.
Workers at the till are impressive, emitting Zen-like patience with cranky customers who are tired after a long day`s slog. I am fascinated by their mental maths ability, especially rounding up and down. Argentinian supermarket staff have a tough job because they never have enough small change, so one way to befriend them for life is to hand over the exact cost of your items in notes and coins. They beam at you, impressed that a blow-in would have the guile to understand and possess the necessary coinage to complete this complex task.
But, presenting them with a 100 peso note, sets them off, they quickly assess what they have in the till and then ask you for random amounts to help them round off the figures and come back with the cash. `Can you give me a 20 and 3 pesos, or if not maybe a 5 and 2 peso coin,`they plead.
If this digital dexterity proves fruitless, they ask a few questions which I never understand then finally let out a long sigh, sit back in resignation and hit the buzzer with lights. The next part, I know because I’ve experienced it too many times. Big, bright lights flash over-head and a supervisor is summoned to go to a far-off safe to find change for the birdbrain at the till. The queue behind me moans and glares while I stand for ages, embarrassed waiting for my saviour to come with the coins.
But, you live and learn and I now head to the supermarket fully prepared, estimating the bill as I stroll the aisles. Calculating the cost as I stand in line, I hand over the exact amount to my smiling friend at the till. Armed with wads of notes and hefty pocketfuls of shrapnel, I am an Argentinian Super (market) Hero using magic maths eyes to help fumblers see the Disco light!!