Thursday, May 31, 2007


For those of you not familiar with the euro system of money, let me enlighten you! They have tons more currency options than we do in the US. They have the 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50 cent, 1 euro, and 2 euro coins. Then they have 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, etc bills. All the bills are different colors and sizes (Side note: I have often harassed my brother in Germany that Americans seem to be more intelligent as we dont need size and color to help us distinguish between 5 and 10!). Aside from the monoply looking bills, the coins are a big deal. I can see both pros and cons and I know the US is thinking of making more coins because they are cheaper. However, it doesnt take long before you get weighed down with coins in your pocket or purse. And despite the great effort to make the bills look distinct from each other, they didnt do all that much with the coins....very subtle difference between 1 and 2 euro coin. Which brings me to todays storytime.....

When shopping, it is apparently a really big deal to provide the cashier with exact change. For example, at the grocery store the other day, my total was 4.08 (cat food, again!). I didnt have 8 cents so I was just going to give her a 5 bill. She was not at all pleased with this and wanted me to give her something closer to the exact amount. After fiddling around in my coin purse and her digging in my hand to take out what she wanted (which is a common occurence in stores here), she was happy with two 2 euro coins and 10 cents. So I got 2 cents back. Now, the amount of time spent on this adventure doesnt seem to outweigh the benefits to either of us.

I have seen many people approach the cashier with their hand full of coins ready to make the count for exactness. Keep in mind the options are multiplied with the coins. For example, with 8 cents in the US, you either have a nickel and 3 pennies or 8 pennies. But in Europe, you can have a 5 cents, 3 pennies, or 5 cents and one 2 cent and 1 penny, or four 2 cents, or three 2 cents and 2 pennies, etc. etc. etc.

And just today, as I finally broke down after my 3 day search for non aerosol hairspray (doesnt exist but thats another story for another time), I made my purchase for 3.39 euro. But this time, I was prepared. I had the 9 cents (5, 2 and 2)!!! Ha! But, alas, still not good enough...the cashier insisted I provide the entire 39 cents and not just the 9. When I told her I didnt have it, she grumbled and gave me my 70 cents in change!

I am completely amused at this phenomenon. It gets your heart racing as you stand in line at the cashier..."Will I be able to perform and meet expectations or will I fail and have to be given coins for change"? Its just one way that I can still make use of my math degree!


alyssa said...

That's hilarious! It's like the change nazi or something. oh, and non-aerosol hairspray does not exist?? How is a woman to survive the fumes and damage to the hair there? This is all so intriguing...please keep sharing :)

Anonymous said...

This is why I always use my Bancomat POS card.