My first job as a teenager, aside from babysitting, was at McDonald’s. I learned a heckuva lot at that job, and not just about work ethic or stuff like that. I learned to appreciate what it’s like behind that counter trying to work with a diverse and strange group of people. I recognized that turning over the running of a restaurant to a group of teens and twenties had potential for disaster as well as for leadership and growth.
We used a preprinted pad of paper for the orders. A customer would tell us what they wanted and we’d write as fast as we could, then figure out the math on the paper, then key in the total on the cash register. Sounds so archaic now, doesn’t it? Seriously, it wasn’t that many years ago. Some places still do it that way, amazingly. (The fabric store I worked at ten years ago did it that way, too.) I’m not sure how the till ever balanced out at the end of the day using that method. Boggles my mind.
I used to take great pride in my ability to figure out change. Nothing quite matched the satisfaction of reverse counting in my head and then forward counting the customer’s change into their hand. Occasionally, I’d catch myself in an error as I counted it out to them. I’d apologize and make the correction, glad for the process that double checked my math.
Even now, when I make a purchase using cash I have the change figured out almost before the computerized cash register does. And I double-check the money in my hand since the cashiers rarely do that counting back thing anymore. In fact, I’m not sure most of them even understand that concept or could figure the change without looking at what the computer tells them.
So why would I bring this up today?
I’m talking around a topic I don’t want to address directly.
Making change in the monetary sense is easy. Always has been.
Making change in my life. Not so much.
It’s Monday and I just had one of those weeks where every flaw I possess seemed highlighted by neon markers and flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror. I’m not just talking physical flaws, but also bad habits, misplaced priorities, skewed ideas, and misaligned ways of thinking. I found myself wondering how often I justify dumb decisions and behavior with little lies I tell myself.
Went to bed last night weighed down by it all.
Woke up this morning determined to do something about it.
Almost noon and I’m feeling buried.
Maybe I need to slow down and figure out the balance owing and what change is due. Y’know, get a handle on things. Stop acting like an emotional tornado.
It’s tough to be objective about your own life. It’s easy to see all the crap and garbage and think that’s reality. Others see only what you allow them to see and you know they just don’t really know the real you. I know that somewhere between the two perspectives reality sits, waiting for me to acknowledge it and get my groove on.
Does reverse counting change exist for making change in my life? Can I forward count the change somehow to see my way out of the weighed down math-challenged thinking I’m stuck in?
It’s awfully tempting right now to swing by that drive-up window and get an order of fries and a coke. Throw in a Big Mac while I’m at it. Throw in an apple pie, make that two because they’re cheaper that way. Eat away my sorrows. Forget the math. Tell the cashier to keep the change.
But I won’t. Not today.
Today I keep the change and the whole wad of cash. Today I begin to make change happen.