Writing: The Count Down

For the A-Z Blogging Challenge I wrote 26 stories about one particular summer and called it The Waiting Summer.  The "waiting" in the title refers to waiting tables, waiting on my senior year to start, on friends and on adult life to begin. Here are my reflections on writing The Count Down.
In The Count Down, I wrote about my mother preparing me for counting back change to customers. I still remember the day Mom taught me to count back change. I couldn’t do it, and didn’t know I needed to. If my mom hadn’t pushed encouraged me to learn this skill, I would have been in dire straits and probably would have been let go from the job. Soon after I started the waitressing job, I needed that skill.
I can still remember looking into the face of my mother, as she taught me. She was (and still is) a very patient person (unlike her eldest daughter) and kept at it until the concept soaked into my teenage brain.
In today’s world, most computerized cash registers tell the cashier how much change to give back, so the skill isn’t really needed. However, when I find a young person who counts back change to me, instead of tossing it in my hand, I praise them to the ceiling and back.
Since that story, there has been some discussion, in my family, about counting back change. If nothing else, family stories will open up dialogue (hopefully good dialogue) and cause some laughter, too.
Writing The Count Down reminded me that:
  • My mom has always been intelligent, patient and kind.
  • I was incredibly nervous about starting this job, but excited at the same time.
  • I had no idea what was in front of me, but as youth (usually) is, I was open to the new experience.
Commenting on a Couple of the Comments
Carol Kilgore commented, “I don't have a problem counting back change, but I am way too klutzy to have ever been a waitress.”
JW: If you all knew me in real life, you would know that I’m not only klutzy, but accident prone. I fall, I trip, I drop things all the time. I’m just glad I didn’t hurt anyone when I worked the waitressing job.
Mary Aalgaard said, “Counting change back, not a skill that is currently taught. It would be a fun math lesson at school, though.”
JW: I hadn’t thought of that, but counting back change would be an interesting math lesson.
Are you recording family stories somewhere for future generations? What was a skill you were taught (by a parent, sibling, relative, caretaker) that has been valuable in life?


  1. Hi Teresa ... your stories were fun to read - and how sensible of your mother ... I'd have loved to have had a holiday job .. but we were always away with grandparents (three lots - my mother's first husband's) ..

    Great skill I agree and I hate a grotty hand put out grabbing the change and dumping it my hand .. without so much as a thank you or as you say how much is there ..

    My mother was patient .. but we were opposites til recently - though we did love cooking together and she was pretty good at everything! Cheers Hilary

  2. My parents always handled money well and I learned that from them.
    Sad that so few know how to give change anymore.

  3. I really enjoyed your stories for A to Z! Counting back change is not only a good math skill, but it's courteous, too. I worked in food and clothing retail in high school and college, and I always counted the change. Math isn't my best subject, but I've mastered addition and subtraction, LoL!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

  4. I have two journals. My 'happy one' and my 'mad-about-such-and-such one'. They are the recollections of the good bad, and the ugly about my family.

    My mom taught us how to keep things really clean. Ourselves and our homes. I have to say, my sibs and I keep great homes and we're all clean cut and conservative.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  5. I think I probably commented on that post that I couldn't do it when I worked at McDonalds in 1981 and the register didn't tell you how much either. It was awful for me and b/c my mom was as bad at math as me, she didn't teach me. My dad was good at math but it never occurred to any of us to have him teach me. I hated the job anyway.

  6. New things truly do crop up as you look back, or are re-enforced.

  7. Great post! As a matter of fact I am outlining a psychogical thriller and the setting is in smalll town south Michigan where my parents grew up. They gave me a treasure trove of.info to use for the story.

  8. I have used pretty much every thing but Algebra...still have not really found a use for that.

  9. hi teresa,
    your mum sounds really wonderful! thank you for sharing such sweet memories in your life.

    my dad always handled money well, what a shame i didn't learn that from him.

    i thoroughly enjoyed your post/quality writing. it did strike a chord with me. you always provide value in everything you write.

    big hugs!

  10. We sound a lot alike, Teresa. Maybe I shouldn't have shied away from a waitress job. Your mom sounds awesome.

  11. What a great mother! I'm not great with counting change, and I'm not one of those customers who usually says, "If I give you three pennies, then you can give me ____ back." :) But I aspire to do better! I think it's cool that you think about what you learn from your stories and that you're compiling family stories. I try to do that with a journal, but I'm not sure I'm focusing on the right things.


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