feel in his pocket for change

flowersophy

Senior Member
Chinese-China
Hi,

My 71-year-old grandpa runs a small food stand in a night market in my city, providing local snacks for people working overtime. Receiving payments had always been a problem for him before my help. He often had to feel in his pocket for change on cold nights while keeping an eye on food in the oven.
(Quoted from an English test paper)

Who can tell me whether “feel in his pocket for change” sounds natural?

Many thanks!
 
  • Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, it sounds fine, except that I'm surprised that he keeps coins for his business in his trouser pockets or jacket pockets. That seems a bit odd.
     

    flowersophy

    Senior Member
    Chinese-China
    “He often had to feel in his pocket for change” implies that he had to prepare enough change because some customers with no coins with them had to give him a big note to buy some inexpensive snacks.

    But I am not sure whether the native speakers here will agree with my view.
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It means he was using his pocket to hold money. He couldn't see into his pocket so he had to feel for the shape of the coins he needed to give as change to the customer.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Feel" suggests the idea of "searching for". He has a small number of coins in his trouser pocket which he has to search for among the keys, etc. He has a hard time taking the customers' money because he doesn't have enough change for even one transaction. ;) Where does he keep his coins on warm nights?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It doesn't make much sense to me.

    Perhaps he had arthritis in his hands, and the cold night air made them stiffer than usual. If this made his movements slow, the food might have burned while he was fiddling about with the change.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Receiving payments had always been a problem for him before my help. He often had to feel in his pocket for change on cold nights while keeping an eye on food in the oven.
    "Feeling for change" just means "finding the coins he needs (for change) by touching them". This is harder than picking out coins while looking at them in your hand, and takes longer (while the customer waits). That is the "problem" he had: making change was slow.

    The reason he did that is stated: he had to keep an eye on the food in the oven. If he was looking at coins to make change (over and over, for each customer) the food might burn. In other words, he needed two sets of eyes: one for the money, one for the cooking food.

    The text doesn't say it was a terrible problem, or that he had difficulty doing it. The text also doesn't say he acted differently on warm nights.

    “He often had to feel in his pocket for change” implies that he had to prepare enough change because some customers with no coins with them had to give him a big note to buy some inexpensive snacks.
    All food vendors have to make change. It is universal, everywhere on earth. It is implied by "runs a small food stand".
     
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