#495: Change



As anybody who has ever manned a cash register for a living knows, you gotta keep that sucker stocked with change!

During the transactions of the day, you inevitably run low on certain coin denominations.  With the Harmonized Sales Tax added in (our HST was a whopping 15%!) a used CD purchase always came to one of these four totals:  $6.89, $10.34, $12.64, or $13.79.  (Incredible, how I still have those totals memorised hey?)  Most customers paid with a $20 bill.  You can see how, through the course of a business day, you would build up a large stack of $20’s, while slowly running out of pennies, dimes, quarters, loonies ($1 coins), twonies ($2 coins) and $5 bills.  (We rarely had to replenish the nickles.  Since that time, pennies have been discontinued in Canada.)

One other critical factor to consider:  We bought and sold used CDs.  We paid between $2 and $7 cash per disc.  You can see how would we run out of $5 bills, twonies and loonies quite easily on a busy day.

There were fewer worse feelings than running out of change midday, with no backup to make a bank run.  Customers don’t like receiving a mitful of dimes for change because you don’t have anything larger left.  Unfortunately, most of them didn’t help the situation.  Some would try to give you exact change, or at least helpful change, but most would just lazily hand you a $20 bill even though they had a hand full of change, enough to make exact change.  Granted, a large portion of customers actually wanted to keep their quarters and loonies for bus and laundry money.  But I’ve also seen the odd guy here and there who would be paying, start counting out change to pay with, then lose count and just hand me a $20.  Anyway:  long story short, we were always handing out tons of coins and in need of change and small bills.

Managers like myself were responsible for keeping the register stocked with enough change.  If we failed that, or miscalculated how much coin we’d need to get through the day, there’d be hell to pay in the morning!  We had one nasty boss who was really good at yelling.  Once she had unloaded the artillery on you, you didn’t want to disturb the beast ever again or you’d get it even worse.  You didn’t ever want to have repeat offenses with this person.  She could peel your skin just with a glare.   So, I created a practical yet unpopular solution to this problem.

One day, after being yelled at for the umpteenth time for this, I said, “Fine.  From now on, I’m stocking enough change to last us an entire week.  We’re not running out again.”  And we didn’t.

I’d have to call the bank in advance so they could prepare my large change order.  (One bank wanted 24 hours’ notice — ridiculous!)  I’d go to the bank with a small wad of $20 bills and return with a heavy bag of coinage.  Fortunately we could use the “business line”, bypassing the large queue of regular customers, who sometimes would glare or make comments about the guy “jumping the line” (me).  Unfortunately for my staff, whoever was closing at night had to count a whole bunch of coin and small bills.  They complained, but I explained simply:  “I’m not getting yelled at again for running out of change, so we have to live with it.”

Like I said, it wasn’t a popular solution, but it was an effective solution.  Other store managers who might have been on the “good side” of that evil perfectionist boss didn’t have to worry about getting yelled as frequently as I did.  She picked on me and a few select others harder than her favoured crew of close friends.  Counting a shit-ton of change at night was a very small price to pay for this minor slice of peace of mind!



  1. I always love coming across a Canadian coin when I get change. It’s a rare thing which makes it feel like an interesting find.
    No pennies anymore? How do you give change for something that costs $2.98?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I was reading I was thinking ‘we always just had a backstock of coins for such situations… and then you solved it anyway! Ha, good work!

    Yup, I feel you on the counting of change, had to do it at every job like that, and it ain’t fun. Imagine 8 hours of (hundreds of) transactions at the wicket of a bank, and then having to make sure you balanced down to the penny at the end of the shift (before you could go home). Joy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good on them for allowing for margin of error. I can’t imagine they allowed for a whole lot, but at least they didn’t make you stay until it matched up perfectly (been there, done that).

        It may have been a flawed system, but I’d vote more for human error. A finger slips when entering a price, or incorrect change is given back. It happens all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We were allowed a $1 margin of error which is pretty good I think. From my many years though, I was able to show documentation of our point of sales system having some flaws. Rounding, etc.


        2. I’d have loved a margin of error. But then how would the banks make their billions of dollars of profits every year? $1 here or there, over all their branches across the whole country would add up, annually!

          Liked by 2 people

        1. We didn’t use an off the shelf point of sale system. It was made in house, so there was lots of room for programming errors which I don’t think were ever fully discovered.


  3. Its been a long time since I worked at Tower but i used to know all the amounts after taxes too.
    We also had a manager who liked to bitch about everything…of course she would F everything up herself.
    USA will be at 15% tax rate at some point too…if some have their way…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re at 13% now, but with a new government voted it, it’s only a matter of time before it goes back up. Some provinces pay less but where I am, we pay some of the highest taxes in Canada.


    1. Just nicknames… the loonie is a $1 coin, has a loon on it. Real original, right? The twonie is the $2 coin, and has a polar bear on it. I suppose it’s a twonie because “polaroonie” was awkward. ;)


      1. I think its either £20 and £50, or £50 and £100.

        But theyd say like, Ill give you a pony if you watch the doors or like, This new car only cost a score.

        Not me, more London, and more 1970s


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