An encounter today had me wondering briefly who was the adult who should really know... the person with whom I was conversing; or myself.
This is a specifically British situation – here in the UK, it has – to some extent -- been for the past few decades, a situation of those who govern us, envisagedly trying to force on the populace, use of the metric system of weights and measurements; rather than the Imperial system of same (as used in the US), which was long used in Britain too, and which a fair number of Britons preferred and prefer.
I don’t, personally, have much of a dog in this fight – in that I am pretty disastrously innumerate, and have trouble making much sense of any kind of weights-and-measures system. Anyway, my today’s experience -- I was in a local greengrocer’s shop, wanting to buy one and a half pounds / somewhat-less-than-a-kilo of aubergines. The shop had no set of scales or any suchlike straightforward means of weighing the stuff and being able to see what it weighed: I had to negotiate with the young woman serving there, for her to make as though to ring items up, and read out to me how much they weighed. Communication-wise, this caused some confusion – especially when she referred (more than once) to what the context would indicate to be so many grams; as so many “kilograms”. I’ve always understood that a thousand grams make a kilogram; but – with my having little trust in myself as regards anything to do with figures – I had a slightly alarmed moment of wondering: “Is she right – and it’s me who’s been wrong and mixed-up about this point, all along?”
I tried to clarify things with the employee, as much for my own peace of mind as anything else: “Don’t you mean grams, not kilograms?” Her response was, “Hey, you’re confusing me now.” I didn’t pursue the matter; essentially, I’d got approximately the required quantity of the vegetable concerned. At one point in our conversation, the young lady talked in terms of pounds, rather than in terms of whatever she thought kilograms to be. I’m inclined from this, to suspect that there are indeed nowadays many Britons (apart from the numerically-terminally-challenged such as me) who are not fully comfortable with either of the two weights-and-measures systems.