On my hike down memory lane, I stumbled across this gem……….


One day just after I celebrated Christmas, I got to thinking how tired the cashiers in the shops must be, and just how many errors had been made on all those till slips. Slips carelessly grabbed and paid by brain-bashed Christmas shoppers. 

Errors, however, can be made at any time of the year.  

The day came when not being too sure of my bank balance, using my credit card took careful consideration, so 

not wanting to suffer the embarrassment of it possibly being declined; I bought a notebook and pencil, writing

down price and item of everything as I put them in the trolley. 

The centre where I was shopping had a tea- room where one could have a cup a char before checking out.  

Rolling my trolley over to it, I found a free table and sat down, 

ordered a cup of tea, then took out my calculator and notebook. I checked and rechecked the total until I was satisfied. It was just under three hundred. 

At the till I loaded my purchases and waited to pay, card in hand, quite confident all would be well.

“That will be four hundred and fifty rands,” said the cashier.

 My smile disappeared, and my heart stopped, shaking my head, I said,

 “That can’t be right.” 

“Uh, yes, it is,” she maintained,  

“This is a new electronic till. It doesn’t make mistakes.”

For once in my life, I stood my ground. 

 ” Your total is wrong, and I can prove it,” I said, pulling out my notebook and showing her my calculations.

Reluctantly, she called the supervisor, who came wondering over, obviously bored with life in general.

” What’s the problem?” she asked, not entirely hiding a yawn.

The cashier explained that her customer did not understand how the new electronic tills worked and thought it had

 made an error.

 ” No,” I objected,” I’m sure the till is quite wonderful and top of the range, state of the art, etc., but have you ever heard of a thing called” human error’?.”

There was rather a long queue building up behind me, as well as some curious onlookers who had stopped their shopping to watch the little drama playing out at the till.

One man who was watching smiled at me and stuck up a thumb.

” You stand your ground,” he said,

I nodded and smiled back at him,” I will.”

The supervisor noticed the crowd’s interest and decided to take the dispute out of the public eye.

” You do realise what this means?” she asked,” We are going to have to take your trolley to a back room, take everything out, and then check each item one by one”.

” Yes, I do,” I said quite determined not to be browbeaten by her.

So, with much rolling of eyes and heavy sighing, they put up the’ Use next till’ sign and took the trolley to said back room. There they unpacked the groceries and using a good old fashioned adding machine re-calculated my bill.

Total: Two hundred and ninety-five rand, not Four hundred and fifty.

The cashier had entered the tins of Husky dog food at ten times fifteen rand, instead of fifteen times ten cents or something like that.

” Oh my, look at that?” the supervisor said,” It seems as though there is an error after all. We will have to refund your money.”

Considering I had not yet paid, this half-hearted attempt at hush money amused me. Still, being ever so honourable, I declined and handed them the readjusted and correct amount.

It would appear then that cash registers may come and go. Still, nothing beats good, old-fashioned grey matter, not even the fully computerised electronic one’s.

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