A Family that Calculates Together Stays Together

Enjoyed a great lunch with some old friends the other day—waving at you, Pam, Megan, FullSizeRenderand Jason!—but when the bill came there was something I’d never seen before:

$0.02—that’s two cents!—added to the bottom of the bill for rounding.


Sensible when it’s cash and there are pennies flying every which way, but with a credit card, why should it matter?

And it brought all kinds of things to mind.

Do they think we can’t add up odd numbers? Do the good folks at The Orchard subtract two pennies from the bill just as often? How often do people ask about this? Or do they even look at the bill.

Decided not to harass the poor server, but I did take a picture and send it to the math folk in my family.

Forget making family plans, or health issues, or the buying and selling of cars. The rounding business really got things riled up.

“There’s no reason for this,” says David, the high school math teacher, “maybe when they do away with the nickel they will round to the nearest 5 cents.”

Daddy the college math guy was right on that: “Doing away with the nickel would cause them to round to the nearest 10 cents.”

“Doing away with the nickel won’t do anything if you still have the penny. ;)” Ariel the Geek Goddess piped in.

“I MEANT do away with the penny!” said David.

What inspires instant communication in your family?

Family memories? Funny stories about Aunt Mabel? Recipe requests? Cute dog or kitten pictures? Math problems?

The best comment though was from my dad, who first visited his father’s native Oklahoma in 1939.

“When I first went to Oklahoma they had state coins for ½ cent and 1/10 of a cent.”

So of course I had to look up ang read about these funny little coins, that were used for sales tax back in the day.

Before people could text each other about their restaurant bill.


About Karen Ray

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