I was at Chipotle recently, one of my favorite restaurants. I was going to say, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, but I don’t really consider it to be Mexican food. Probably because I usually get the “burrito bowl,” since I don’t like their tortillas.

Well, when I gave the young lady a $10 bill for my $7.12 total, she accidentally entered the wrong amount I was giving her into the register. She looked baffled, unaware of what to do. She then grabbed a pencil and piece of paper to work out the change she needed to return to me.

As she engaged the borrowing rules of subtraction, I kindly (not judgmentally, I might add) said, “I think it should be $2.88.”

She was surprised, “How’d you do that?”

“In my head,” I replied.

To her I was like Einstein, I suppose.

Watch Calculators

Older generations have always warned against the overuse of calculators. Cue grumpy old man voice from SNL of yore: When I was a kid, we used an abacus for our calculations … and we liked it!

Remember those watch calculators? They had miniscule buttons and each entry returned a high pitched beep. Those beeps must have been mandated by elementary school teachers to prevent cheating. Those beeps were piercingly loud. About as loud as the kid next to you sneakily trying to snack on Corn Nuts. (You can suck on them all you want, but that crunch is inevitable.)

I carry a calculator around with me everywhere now in my phone. It’s a simple app, but if you turn the phone to the side, you get all kinds of complicated features. I only ever use the percentage one. I also have access to a wealth of information I used to have to just know. Whether my list of tasks, appointments, or notes.

I used to be a good memorizer. (I might still be today if I tried.) As a young piano student, I always had to memorize my recital pieces. I never understood why other instrumentalists didn’t have to memorize. Someone would go to a faraway closet and unearth a music stand for the flute players and violinists. We piano players had a music stand built into the piano, yet we had to lay it flat. Come to think of it, vocalists also had to memorize their songs. Of course, I’m a pianist and a vocalist. I should have played the oboe. But then, how would that help me now?

Dumber and Dumber

I read an article awhile back about how Google is dumbing us down. (I’d have to Google the article to tell you where it’s at.) It’s this sense that because we have 24/7 access to information, then we don’t actually have to know or remember any of it. I can look it up and return a result in a matter of seconds. On the one hand, we have the ability to learn a lot. On the other, we’re not storing it in our native information retrieval systems — our brains.

I’ve thought about this as it relates to Scripture. I think it was David who wrote, “I’ve hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (I think it was him. I’d have to look it up.) I’ve not done much hiding of God’s Word in my heart lately. Sure, it’s all hidden in my Bible app, and I can call it up rather quickly. But hiding God’s Word has to do with meditating. It’s repeating over and over in my heart and mind whatever it is I’m wanting to chew on.

Thinking back on it now, memorizing my music as a piano student was good for me. It forced me to get beyond the notes on the page and breathe in the music. Breathe it in, then exhale it out through my fingers. I suppose that’s what meditating — or in this case, Scripture memory — does too. I breathe in God’s Word and exhale it through my words, my thoughts, my actions.

No need for an app.

One thought on “Struggling to calculate change for a burrito

  1. So, true!  I have noticed people can live in a town for years and not know the streets or their way around, because everyone has GPS in their car or on their phone. (me included)  I have been trying really hard to rely more on my own brain than a computer or helpful app.


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