I was at a store this morning watching how the young lady operated the cash register. She touched the item button, then the quantity button, and then the total button which automatically figured the tax. I handed her my debit card which she swiped through the credit company machine, pressed three buttons, waited mere seconds and handed me a receipt to sign. It sure wasn’t anything like I remember cash registers to be.

In 1974 I was hired to work at Holiday Stationstores, todays equivalent of the Kwik Trip. The cash register had real push in buttons, not touch pads. There were vertical rows for hundreds, tens, ones and cents. The numbers were behind little windows at the top of the register and they were on wheels that would turn the correct number to the window depending on what button you pushed. When you “rang up” a customer you had to enter the dollar amount by pushing those buttons. 20 in the 10’s column, 4 in the ones column, 7 and then 9 in the cents column for $24.79. You figured the tax on a piece of paper, pushed the tax button, added the tax number and then pushed total.  When the customer gave you two twenties, you counted out the change. A penny makes $24.80, two dimes make $25.00, a five and a ten makes $40.00. If they wanted a receipt, you wrote it out by hand. And you did all that as fast as you could because you had customers waiting. It took about twice as long in the checkout lane as it does today.

Besides that you pumped their gas, washed their windows, filled their tires and checked their oil. For all that I was paid $2.00 an hour. Of course gas was 36 cents a gallon, and my rent $50 a month. Yesterday is definitely gone.

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