Alas, it's not. He vaporlocks. Takes the three cents and stands there, lips moving, as he attempts to take the derivative of the curve I've just thrown him, dy and dx circling sharklike in his brain, slashing at his thoughts while on the periphery, venerable, furious Asian men wave abacuses and yell at him, cheered on by crewcut geeks with slide rules and long-haired ones with fat, button-studded calculators. His manager's at the other register and it's just registered with her that Post-Teenaged Sidekick has ground to a halt. She turns and asks, "What'd she give you?" She gives me a suspicious look, thinking I have handed him a 5-Zloty* note, 14 dinars, six $2 bills and a subway token and am demanding my change in kopecks and loonies, right now.†
"Unh, thirty dollars. An' three cents."
"How much was it? Twenty-two fifty-three?" She disfavors him with a witheringly disgusted look, but his back is to her and I'm pretty sure he's immune anyway. "Where do you start?"
"Put the three cents in the drawer. Now, take--"
He drops the pennies in their bin, fumbles out a one, drops it, grabs it and gives me a sheepish look.
"No! Take two quarters. Now, what's left?"
"And...? Two ones?"
Comprehension seems to dawn; he ends up holding $7.50, which he hands to me in one lump without the traditional chant of 'Fifty makes twenny-three, two ones is twenny-five and five is thirty; with your three cents, we're even.'
Y'know, there's a reason for doing that, two reasons in fact, and there's a reason why he can't; one is to force a kind of rolling recalc and the other is to hand over the minimum number of bills by filling to the nearest five, then the nearest ten and twenty and so on. At one time, nearly every transaction ended in that comforting ritual, unless some inconsiderate high-roller was writing a check. Any more, that nifty little card-slideola right out there for the customer's convenience allows all but the greenest of stockboys hoping to move up to get a chance helping out at the registers...as long as no one with a pocketbook fulla cash comes along and has the nerve to round up the transaction after he's already rung the total.
...Which was a rotten trick; I can't claim I wasn't a bit of a jerk there but I really did think it was trivial.
* The Poles have always had some good-lookin' paper money; they've mostly been able to avoid the candy-bar wrapper look in favor of serious, quality engraving.
† This list, thunk up at random, adds up to $33.48 in USD, or pretty close ($33.53 as of 0722EST 31OCT2010, the Jordanian dinar having gone up a tick or two) assuming the monetary value of the subway token is zero. My change would be, oh,