Working as a cashier at Walmart doesn’t really give me a lot of satisfaction, but it does give me a lot of time to think. One thing I think a lot about is the value that people place on objects.

Story time. Today, a lady came through my line with a hundred grocery items and about thirty coupons. After probably forty dollars worth of savings, I reached the final two coupons. This is an extraordinary feat because, for some reason, there’s a huge lag after you scan the coupon before the reduction is applied. Unfortunately, for some reason, these coupons would not apply to the items purchased. Sometimes this happens because people don’t realize that they actually have to buy two or three of the item or something like that. Anyway, for whatever reason, these two coupons didn’t work. So, I handed the coupons back to the lady and explained what was going down. In the end, she gave back those objects because she wasn’t able to save three dollars for those items… items that were only three or four dollars in the first place.

I see this a lot and I guess it makes sense if you think of things in terms of percentages, but is two or three dollars really going to change your financial standing? I understand if you’re paying a dollar more for a hundred items, but it never is more than, like, three. I know the economy is “bad”, but is it really that bad? Maybe I’m the wrong person to talk to about numbers (there’s no maybe about it). When I see a number that’s over, like, ten I’m kind of lost as to what it means. Let me explain.

My whole life I’ve been hearing adults complain about gas prices. Yeah, it kind of sucks to have to pay $40 to fill up my car, but to be honest, I don’t see the money, I just see before and after numbers on my bank statement. That’s the basis for one of the biggest arguments against using debit and credit cards, checks, and whatnot. When I see that the gas price is, say, $3.39, I don’t think anything positive or negative about it. I see a number that really means nothing to me.

This is one of the biggest reasons that I struggled in high school math so much. I could never make the connection in my head as to what the heck was going on. Adding and subtracting was fine, multiplication, fractions, anything that could be taught using pencils or pie or something I could see was fine. Algebra makes sense to me because…. I don’t really know why, but it does. Calculus meant nothing to me (pre-calc, I should say). The other problem with me and math was that I didn’t care and when you don’t care about something, your success in it… declines.

To be honest, I’m not really sure I’ll do well in Chemistry. I’m just sort of taking a bit of a plunge by going into it. I can’t memorize a lot of the equations and I don’t really do well with measurements either (just a bunch more meaningless numbers). The one thing that I’ve got going for me when it comes to science is my ability to visualize. My AP Chem teacher could draw a picture on the board and take us into the lab and show us something and as soon as I understood what was moving and where things were, I could understand the concept. After that, it was just a matter of knowing what to plug in where and I could do the math part as well. There was some of the theory that I struggled with because you had to judge things based on how big or small they were.

There were a lot of times where I wouldn’t understand how to begin a problem and one of the other (brilliant) kids in the class would be like, “Oh, I get it. You have to start by assuming this because such and such number is REALLY small.” It would usually make sense to me after that, but it took a lot of studying for me to be able to assume things by the set of numbers we were given.

Maybe two or three dollars actually do matter that much, in the long run. I’m a really unstructured person when it comes to important (non-quark specific to me) things, so this may be a problem, but people could at least chill the crap out at grocery stores. You know what my mom does when shoes that are supposed to be $11, ring up to be $17? She does nothing. She just lets it slide.

To be fair, I always buy shoes that are $10 and my little brother and sister buy shoes that are three times that expensive, so either way, I’m still the least expensive child she as, but seriously. She doesn’t flip out over $6. She doesn’t watch the list of items as the cashier scans them to make sure that they’re exactly the same price she wants them to be. She doesn’t come through the line and ad-match EVERY ITEM IN HER CART. Of course, my dad does have a pretty sophisticated budgeting system that accounts for how much my mom spends when she’s shopping and it isn’t like we’re poor or anything.

The point is, please chill out when you go through my line and stop yelling at me when you aren’t pleased, because I will just smile and call my manger over to tell you the same thing I tried to say in the first place. Then, I will be in a horrible mood for the rest of the day and I won’t be able to enjoy my lunch because the seething mass of nausea in my stomach won’t let me eat anything at all.

Now, an amusing tale for those of you who read all the way through. So, I have my badge hooked to a lanyard that I wear around my neck. Hooked onto the lanyard just above my badge is a black pen that I was told to have with me at all times. So, I started my shift, just puttering along gloomily. I looked down about fifteen minutes later to discover that my clicky, black pen was clicked and I’d been writing little, black lines all over my forearms. Three hours later when I got my first break, there were a ton of people in the bathroom, so I just didn’t wash it off because I don’t like public bathrooms when they’re empty, let alone full.

Also, I think I’m mildly allergic to scented soap, because it irritates that crap out of my hands when I use it. So, when I go into a public bathroom and there’s no one there, I just wash my hands with hot water and a lot of friction (which is apparently the most important part of washing your hands anyway, so…), no soap. When there are people in there, I force myself to use the soap because I don’t want to get weird looks. So, I sure as heck wasn’t going to wash my arms with the soap and have them itching all day.

Also hand sanitizer. They have bottles of it at each cash register and I use it sometimes because people bring leaky bags of raw chicken to me all the time and after my hands get nice and soaked in it, I don’t want to get salmonella poisoning, so I use the hand sanitizer. They dry out and itch like none other after that. I should take lotion or something, but I don’t like the way lotion feels afterwards and it always smells weird, even when you have unscented stuff…