Like HALLS and the thumbs-up, there are other things that make life here in Brazil just a little different from back in the America of North and its respective states (and I’m not just talking about the threat of monkeys). What is it now? It’s pennies.
I will demonstrate with the following example: you are paying for something with cash (but somewhere with a register, so exclude those things you normally pay for in cash), and the total comes out to $42.01 – you have two twenties and a five, no change.
In the US: After looking at the cashier with a face that says only, “really?”, you search your pockets once more time for change that you already know isn’t there. Take-a-penny jar/cup/ashtray? Empty. You fork over your cash to the cashier who meticulously counts you back $2.99. You have to be kidding.
In the US (ideal circumstances): You go for the take-a-penny, nothing; and then you turn to look at the cashier to find them smiling with a penny in hand. Good god! It must be your lucky day. You graciously thank the employee for sparing your pockets from 99 cents worth of jingling as if he or she had just jumped in front of a bus for you, and you go merrily on your way.
In the Brazil: You hand the cashier your $45, they hand you back $3.
Wait, what? Just like that? Yes, just like that. No hesitation, no praise, only satisfaction. But lets up the ante: what if your total was $42.02!? Good luck getting away with that in the US. In Brazil? $3 back. $43.03? Same thing. In fact, one cent pieces are not even used in Brazil, making the smallest denomination worth five cents. Even better? It is not rare to find that these pieces are ignored as well and things will simply be rounded down to the nearest ten cents. Wunderbar!
So next time your total rings to $XX.01 or .02, look at that cashier in the eyes and refuse to accept their change, you tell that bastard you’ll leave a penny – next time.