Top of the Block

Jun 28, 1997

RAY: This is going to be a real short Puzzler.

TOM: A long time ago we had this old crusty mechanic.

RAY: A few weeks ago one of the guys at the shop was replacing the head gasket on a car. I don't know what car it was. The head gaskets are those thin gaskets that go between the cylinder head and the block of the engine. It was a 4-cylinder car, I think it was a Ford Escort or something. You could easily put the gasket on incorrectly.

TOM: Especially -- what -- if you're an auto mechanic.

RAY: So, they had written on the thing the following letters: T-O-P.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Top. And I was walking by. He had put the thing on. And I said to him, "Boy, that's a useless piece of information isn't it?"

TOM: Really? You said that to him?

RAY: He said, "I beg your pardon, I beg to differ." What did I mean by that?

TOM: What did you mean by that? Excellent. That's very good!


RAY: Well, no, I will just give the answer. A better piece of information would have been bottom.

TOM: Oh this is so clever. Just like boxes. They say THIS SIDE UP and it's printed on the top. Well, so what?

RAY: See, with this -- with the letters on top, you have a 50/50 chance of putting it on wrong. If you just took it out and didn't look at it or didn't know enough to look, you could easily put the top down.

TOM: And then you wouldn't even know that it's at the top on the other side.

RAY: And then you would have a convertible. And you wouldn't know that it said top. But if it says bottom and you happen to bottom down, then you have put it on by accident correctly.

TOM: Yeah, is this similar to the OPEN OTHER END information?

RAY: You got it. Not THIS END UP but OTHER END UP.

TOM: Other end up or even when you open up the little containers of orange juice...

RAY: So shape up, gasket makers. Don't put TOP on the thing or THIS SIDE UP, put OTHER SIDE UP. But remember to put it on the other side.

TOM: That does make sense.

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