Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm So Sorry, I Don't Have 23 Cents...


"That'll be $3.23," he says. The simple statement sends me digging through my coin purse for two dimes and three pennies. Only one dime? Make that one dime, two nickles and three pennies. Only one nickle?

I dip my head apologetically and say, "I'm so sorry, I don't have 23 cents." He looks at me funny, takes my $4 and makes quick change. His response isn't what I was expecting and it reveals, in a small way, how much my thinking has been impacted by the four years we recently spent in South America.

You see, the same situation there would have been met at the very least with a scolding for not having the correct change. And at the most, I would lose whatever change was coming to me. Somewhere in the middle would be a lot of sighing while the cashier went up and down the line seeing if anyone could break a bill for change.

Several times I was actually told I wouldn't be able to buy an item because they couldn't make change for me. I guess they didn't really need the sale?

So I got in the habit of carrying as much small change as I could. And I forgot that in this blessed country, you can hand the cashier a $50 for a purchase of $3.23 and they'll smile and count you back your change. In fact, it seems it's actually more of a nuisance to some of them to have to wait for you to dig through your coin purse for the correct change.

Culture is so interesting...I'm thankful to have experienced another one and learned from it...but you better believe I'll enjoy whipping out that fifty dollar bill next time I buy a latte! :)

5 comments:

Wendy said...

Very interesting. It really makes me think.

nora said...

Loved your post! In W. Africa, when I don't have change, they'll run around and find it. Sometimes it means a long wait, but they always manage it. I got chided a lot in France for big bills until the day I I learned to say "I'm very sorry, but I don't have any change." I think that was my first complete sentence in French.

Daphine said...

What a great post and so true! I can totally relate to this. I remember a time when we were shopping in Jamaica. Every time we purchased something, each owner would also have to run to his neighbor's stand to get change. We didn't have big bills like $50s or $100. We had $5,$10 and $20s. It was very interesting! I enjoyed reading this.
Have a great weekend!

Becky Aguirre said...

I remember having to buy a little "extra" something quite a few times, like gum or candy that is sold at the cash register when they didn't have the right change to give me...I haven't experienced quite the same here, although they do generally ask if they can round up to the next peso to make giving change a little more simple. Usually a case of a few cents, no mas...

Coffeegirl said...

Great post - I know exactly what you mean! I am always surprised by the amount of huffing and puffing I incite when I don't have the proper change, even with taxi drivers. And it really does go down to the pennies. How can they be mad at me for paying 4 for a 3.70 total?! Love your blog!

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