The Sarah Lee frozen pies were on sale, three for $10, at the local supermarket. I bought two, but they rang up as $4.99 each. I pointed out to the check-out girl that this was wrong, and she sent a 'gofer' to confirm my claim. Right I was. But now the lass was perplexed, having to input the correct amount by hand and brain. She had to ask me what 10 divided by 3 is. I was nice, not rude, and just gave her the answer sparing her any commentary.
(It's a crappy job, standing up eight hours per day, in a confined space, an appendage of a machine. I make a point of trying to relate to the attendants, male and female, as persons, at the back of my mind recalling a passage in Martin Buber's I-Thou in which he says such a relation is possible even in the heat of a commute between passenger and bus driver.)
But now I can be peevish. They learn how to put on condoms in these liberal-run schools but not how to add, subtract, multiply and divide? And how many times have I encountered pretty young things in bars and restaurants who are clueless when it comes to weights and measures? At a P. F. Chang's the other day I asked whether the beer I wanted to order was 22 oz. The girl said it was a pint, "whatever that is." This was near Arizona State and it is a good bet that she was a student there. How can such people not know that there are two pints in a quart, that a pint is 16 fluid ounces, that four quarts make a gallon , . . . , that a light-year is a measure of distance not of time, . . . .
Can we blame this one on libruls too? You betcha! A librul is one who has never met a standard he didn't want to undermine.
You many enjoy John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy. In case it isn't obvious, innumeracy is the mathematical counterpart of illiteracy.