It was a typical Thursday morning for us. The girls and I have music class at 10:30 and we leave about 9:30 so Ginger can get a morning nap in the stroller and wake up when class starts. It's only a few blocks away but if I let Hazel walk and dawdle as much as she likes it can take an hour. If I make her hurry we can get a few errands in.
First we stopped at the cleaners - dropped off and picked up Ed's shirts, laid them across the top of the stroller. Next the grocery store for a few essentials - yogurt, goldfish, bananas, carrots. Nothing too heavy because these go in a tote bag over my shoulder until we get home. Then we had about 20 minutes until class only a block away. Oh, well, I guess we had to go across the street for a cupcake.
Little Cupcake is this super cute bakery, with cases full of colorful, frostingly endowed treats and counters lined with dome-covered 4-layer cakes. It also has a full line of gourmet coffee, tea and muffins. And in the summer? Fresh lemonade. The shop girls wear pink t-shirts, pink aprons and pink hair kerchiefs. Ed gave me a $20 gift card in my Christmas stocking and I have been whittling away at it, usually on Thursday mornings.
Hazel and I picked out our cupcakes (strawberry for her, lemon for me), and a mini cheesecake to take home for Ed. They don't have their gift cards computerized with the cash register, so they keep a paper list of gift cards by number, and manually record how much is left on each one. The girl looked up my gift card on the list, then she asked her co-worker where the calculator was. Neither girl could find it. Meanwhile the line behind me grew. It was only then that I looked at the cash register and saw that my total was $7 even. I looked down at the paper and saw that my former balance was $16.50. Calculator? Giving up on finding it, the girl gave a loud sigh and hunched over to write out the equation:
16.50 - 7 =
Then she lifted her pen and looked up at the ceiling, concentrating. I took note that it was daytime and public schools were in session so she must be at least out of high school. I considered biting my tongue and actually waiting to see how long it would take her to figure the math out, but I went ahead, "It's $9.50."
"Really?" she said. "Are you sure?"
Am I sure? Suddenly I wasn't. Did I do that wrong? Could I still trust my mind to do automatic arithmetic? Could I trust my own knowledge of the properties of 9 better than hers? Uh, YES.
"Ok, if you say so."
Luckily there's a job for someone like her. Luckily I'm not the dumbest person I've ever met, like I sometimes feel. Luckily she wasn't bothered by the fact that such a simple equation was baffling. Luckily this gave me something to think about today besides the breeding patterns of dirty dishes in my sink and the triple pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded. And most luckily of all, my lemon cupcake was awesome.