To Our Fair City or Bust!

Dec 22, 2007

RAY: Last month the Mondelli family drove from their home in New Jersey to Our Fair City and they stopped by the garage to visit us. They were somewhat disappointed to find out that Tommy wasn't at the shop that day, but they were all very understanding when I explained that he was taking the year off.

Anyway, after some careful questioning I ascertained that they had not driven to Our Fair City just to visit us; they were in fact here so that the two kids could attend the Future Geeks of the World Convention at MIT, our alma mater. Anyway, sensing my disappointment that we weren't the main reason for their trip, they offered a puzzler that they thought I might be able to use, especially if you consider the puzzlers I've used lately. So here it is:

"We drove up here this morning from our house in New Jersey. When we reached Connecticut, we pulled off the highway into one of those rest areas with a restaurant and, more importantly, bathrooms. We all used the facilities and got some snacks and we all walked around a little bit before getting back into the car for the second leg of our trip. Just before noon we arrived at your shop. We parked right down the street and here we are. Simple, right? Here's the question, what part of our car traveled the greatest distance from our house in New Jersey to your shop?"

Now I'm going to give a warning here. I don't anyone to get too esoteric, I don't want any equations, no references to the law of planetary motion, no discussions of the random motion of the ball at the end of the antenna or anything like that. So, to repeat, what part of the car traveled the greatest distance getting the Mondelli family from their New Jersey home and ultimately to our shop in Cambridge, Our Fair City?

RAY: Here's the answer. The part that traveled the farthest is the part without which none of the trip could have been possible. The key.

TOM: Yeah. The only question would be because it went from your house, to the car, and back in your pocket.

RAY: Right, so unless you slept in the car and didn't get out of the car, but I made it pretty clear that they stopped in Connecticut, and they obviously didn't leave the key in the car when they did that. Anyway, do we have a winner?

TOM: We certainly have a winner. It's Zack Westcott from Oxford, Pennsylvania. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the our dumpster full of correct answers, Zack gets a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at Car, with which he can put a hefty down payment on our new four CD set called Car Talk Classics: Four Perfectly Good Hours.

RAY: Hefty down payment. Now these are four complete shows as they originally aired with every call, every wrong answer, every snort, everything. Nothing taken out.

TOM: Four shows unedited. Is that what people really want these days?

RAY: Well you know, we tried selling them in edited version, with just the good stuff.

TOM: And --

RAY: Well you know, most people were a little disappointed when the CD ended after only 37 seconds.

TOM: OK. Well check out these four wonderful shows, Zack, and congratulations!

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