Complaint Dept #2
The teacher in me emerges whenever I see something that needs a tweaking or correction. I can’t help but to try to right the wrong and stay with it until resolved. Recently, I was thrilled that I persisted and made a difference.
Something was wrong with the “For Sale” signs displayed in the store windows of a supermarket I passed every day last year on my way to the school where I taught. Large signs, professionally written, proclaimed that, for example, tuna fish was on sale for .99¢ a can. To those of us with a 3rd grade education, that means that you can buy a can for less than a penny! Not a bad deal, we’d admit, but certainly not their intention.
I approached the manager and explained that, as a Math teacher who had a difficult enough time getting across the concepts of decimals to my young charges, I would greatly appreciate it if the signs could be changed to reflect the correct amount of either 99¢ or $.99. I was assured that it would be done. February, March, April and then May and nothing was accomplished. Meanwhile, I did use it as a teachable moment by challenging my 8th graders to tell me what was wrong in the window of their local supermarket. We discussed what change would make the price correct.
Returning to the supermarket, I spoke again to the manager who said that she really thinks I ought to tell someonehigher up in management, at another store, another town, someone who does the hiring of the sign
painter. I phoned and explained the problem. She listened, but clearly a mini-lesson in decimals was needed, because she did not understand the error. After a complete and careful explanation, she promised it would be taken care of. And it was.
Now, every time I pass by the supermarket, I look in the window and smile to myself. I DID make a difference and the schoolchildren who might read the signs at least won’t get the wrong mathematical lesson. It’s difficult enough to get back appropriate change when you hand the clerk $20 and 3 pennies for a bill of $13.98. I once did that and got back $6 and 5 pennies!