So I walked into a local restaurant yesterday right as their computers went down.
The whole place just stopped, literally. The manager kept going from machine to machine, hoping and praying it would come back up. I could see the desperation in her eyes because, unlike the rest of us, she knew what was coming.
The cashiers couldn’t figure out what to do. They just sort of looked at each other like, “Hey, think we can leave early?”. Luckily, the manager was old school like me and had been around before the advent of computers. She casually gathered the group together and said, very slowly, “Write. the. orders. on. a. piece. of. paper.” I saw several kids cock their heads like dogs do when you say something they doesn’t understand. The brighter ones, however, picked it up right away.
“Like, yeah, we could, like, you know, write stuff down like they did in the old days and like, then, you know, we could, like, um, give it to the cooks and stuff.” Bingo. Step One completed.
The manager smiled to herself. She had circumvented the computers and was able to get orders to the kitchen. Now all she had to do was sit back and wait for the computers to come online.
Oh how wrong she was. You see, friends, the manager took for granted that her employees could figure out the next step on their own. She assumed (and we all know what happens when you do that) that her employees knew basic arithmetic. Foolish, foolish manager.
The two people in front of me already had receipts printed out. They also paid by check. Easy as pie. I, however, put a monkey wrench into the system. First, I added something to my order and second; I had cash.
When I asked the girl how much it cost, she frowned. She asked the Assistant Manager. He said $6.75. She smiled. I asked if that was with tax. She frowned. He said, yes. She smiled. I said I’d like a piece of carrot cake, too. She frowned. The Assistant Manager (smart guy, really) preempted the next question by saying, $3.50, tax included. She smiled, then went to get the cake.
She came back. She frowned, looking around like she’d lost her parents. I said, “what are you looking for?” She said, “paper.” I said, “It’s $3.50 and $6.75, right?” She paused, scratched her head, and said, “uh, huh”. I said, “That’s $10.25”. You ever see the look little kids get when they’re shown a magic trick? That’s the same look she gave me. I handed her a $20. She quickly lost that look.
I said, “What now?” She said, “I need paper.” I said “Why?” She said, “So I can figure up your change.” I said, “It’s $9.75.” She gave me the magic-trick look again. I said, “The 75 cents makes 11 dollars, then you give me 9 more dollars to equal 20.” She said, “If you say so.”
I heard the guy behind me snicker. When I turned around, I saw he was old school too.