Today is my 85th birthday, but I don’t feel terribly old.
I do, however, feel out-of-date.
I haven’t joined wholeheartedly in the digital revolution. And I haven’t bought any of the latest electronic trinkets. Sure, I’m typing this column on a computer, but it’s a six-year-old PC. It’s not a smartphone or even a laptop.
My computer is out-of-date, like I am. I’m not even sure if “typing” is the correct modern term. It could also be out-of-date.
And this week, I bumped into new evidence of my out-of-dateness.
I went into a store in Paso Robles, found an item I wanted to buy, took it to the young man at the check-out station and was surprised when he asked, “Would you like a receipt?”
He must have noticed my puzzled look and my out-of-dateness.
He explained, “Do you want an actual paper receipt?”
I was still puzzled, but I said, “An actual receipt, of course.”
That evening on the phone, my daughter, Sandy, explained to me that the cashier probably meant he could either hand me a paper receipt or he could email a receipt to me. She said some stores do that. I suppose if I were not so out-of-date, I, too, might like email receipts.
I also had another misunderstanding with that young man.
I wanted to buy something that cost $25.91. I prefer paying cash for small purchases like that, instead of using a credit card, so I handed him a $50 bill. Since the price was $25.91, I also gave him one penny and explained I already had too many loose pennies. Giving him that extra penny would enable him to give me a dime in change instead of a nickel and four pennies.
But, what he subsequently gave me was a nickel and five pennies, including the penny I’d given him earlier. He said he had already entered the sale into his cash register and he couldn’t alter the change amount.
I resisted the urge to explain that giving me a nickel and five pennies was the same as giving me a dime, since each are worth 10 cents.
He and I are from widely separated generations. He probably grew up being familiar with computers and relying on them. I grew up when we had skilled human cashiers. They mentally computed your change. Then they counted it out into your hand, counting upwards from the amount of your purchase to the total amount you had given them.
I don’t know how accurate they were, but I never felt cheated.
Doing business with that young cashier did teach me one thing: People from different generations have different life experiences.
So, naturally, people from different generations sometimes have trouble communicating with each other, especially if they’re as out-of-date as I am.