I went to pay my hotel bill. For four nights in a pleasant three star – 140 Euro. And no extra charge for a chair collapsing underneath me. Not bad. Credit card? Er… no cash only. Hmmm, I have 7 Euro on me so I wondered if they accepted Albanian Lek. We are, after all in Albania. Sure. She did her sums and asked me for 196,000 Lek (half the annual average wage in Albania). Er, surely shome mishtake?
No. The girl, who always looks very glum and I have asked to smile every time I have passed reception while here, was sure. She had used a calculator (situated on her web connected phone). We agreed what the exchange rate was and she calculated again. 196,000 Lek. I was about to offer to do the washing up for six months/go to the cashpoint machine and beg when I had a better idea.
I knew the number was wrong because I learned maths before calculators so you just know when a number is wrong. Those of the calculator generation do not. They just accept that the calculator does not lie. So I got out a piece of paper and 140 × 140 was, by a quick process shown to be 19,600 Lek. Glum girl could not argue. She even smiled as she tried to explain about old Lek and new Lek and how it is all terribly confusing. Of course, dearest. The truth is that anyone under 25 cannot see when they have made an error on a calculator because they do not understand how numbers work.
Over and out from and old fart.