Dealing with the end of the meal

Cashiers need to embrace my two-word lesson on customer service: Coins First. That simply means when returning change to a customer, first hand over the coins and then hand over the bills.

Today's computerized cash register has eliminated the need for back-counting (change returned starting with pennies, bringing it to a dollar with additional coins, and only then are the bills handed over). Now that registers report the exact change, most cashiers build wobbly pyramids with bills on the bottom and a pile of coins on top.

The result is dropped money, slower lines and annoyed customers like me who have to empty both hands to deal with the mess. Ever wonder why you keep leaving your cell phone at the counter?

So next time that stack of money comes gingerly swinging your way, refuse the hand-off and give them a lesson in old-school service: Coins first, please.