I want to do this carefully, so as not to appear to be poking fun at the person involved, because I'm not trying to do that at all. Yes, I poke fun at the bombastic, the self-inflated self-important, but never at people who are just trying to get by.
We went into the deli dept. of a grocery store the other day. We were planning to fix Reuben sandwiches for dinner, so I ordered three-quarters of a pound of corned beef. The young lady sliced up the brisket and slid the package over to me...weighing .27 lb.
I said, "Oh, I need more; I need three quarters of a pound."
Puzzled, she took the meat back, got the corned beef out, and sliced it up. This time, she happily slid across the counter top to me a package weighing .24 lb.
Sliding it back, I said, "I'm looking for three quarters of a pound here...we have two one-quarter-pound packages done...so one more, and I'll be all set."
As other people with higher deli numbers were getting their cold cuts and moving along, I (#65) was still standing there, three quarters of a pound shy of three quarters of a pound of corned beef. The manager of the deli, a beefy (!) guy, came over and asked her what was going on. She said, "He asked for three quarters of a pound, and I don't know what that means."
He told her that three-quarters would show up on the scale as .75 lb, and she looked at him as if he had said all that in Mandarin. Finally, he hit on a solution and told her to slice corned beef and pile it on the scale until it weighed .75, and then he helped her print out the little sticker.
Again, let me be totally clear; I am not picking on the woman. No one ever taught her fractions. Some school handed her a diploma and did not check to see that she knew rudimentary arithmetic, and here she is, out in the working world, and she won't get much farther than where she is because someone somewhere along the line said, oh, let's pass her, she's a nice kid.
I raged before in this space about creative spelling, or whatever in Hades the enlightened educators call it. How sad that they think they are doing a fine job, churning out people who don't know three quarters of a pound from the correct way to spell abattoir.
And young lady, I am very sorry that they passed you and led you to thinking you were all set to compete.
I also need to point out that this new store has a very nice little device for checking one's eyeglass prescription. It's sort of like that little thing at the Motor Vehicle Administration; you stick your face in it and see if you can read tiny print all right. It's a great device...if you happen to stand 6' 5" as I do. If not, tough noogies, because that's how high they have this thing set up. Sorry! (But it confirms that for reading, I am a +2.0).
And one last thing: the deli manager guy did not seem the least bit surprised or shocked by the young woman's unfamiliarity with fractions and quarters of pounds, leading me to believe this was not the first time he found an employee broken down on the same patch of bumpy road. A road that we all paved.