Have you ever given a toll booth collector a Canadian nickel? He will blow up your car!
Instead of giving the collector the toll of 65 cents, you give him sixty American cents and a Canadian nickel. God forbid you give him sixty cents and no nickel. He will ring the bell, sound the gong, flash the lights – just go completely berserk.
“What the hell are you doing, mister? You owe me a nickel – you owe me a nickel!”
“Yes, I know.”
He stares are you – glaring with all his venom because you busted him for a nickel.
When you think about his position, a nickel can be important to his well-being. What if the toll collector is really negligent? Four hundred thousand people a day pass through his booth and each one “stiffs” him for a nickel.
“Oh, it’s only a nickel; – it’s only a nickel.”
Let’s see the mathematics of it all: 400,000 people a day times a nickel. That’s like, $2,000.00 – no – $20,000.00. I know it’s the four times the five and then you have to handle (in your head) all those zeros. It is the zeros that can create havoc in your head.
Now 400.00 times five cents – five times four is twenty. Now, 400,000 times decimal point, zero, five, then I do a twist in my head, just behind my eyes. Four times five is twenty, zero, zero, zero, comma, zero, zero, zero. I strain to see my mental blackboard.
Now you understand what makes multiplying in your head difficult. It is handling all the commas and the zeros.
Tom Golden, PhD. Copyright, 1976