The Asymmetric Commute

Aug 22, 2015

RAY: Two young guys are discussing their jobs. One says, "I set my trip odometer the first day I started my job and the round trip is exactly 20 miles."

"Wow, that's great," the other guy says. "I wish my job was only 10 miles from home."

"Oh, no," number one guy says, "it's only 5 miles to get to work, but 15 miles to get home."

"What are you driving, an ice cream truck or something like that?"

"No, no, no, no."

"Oh, I know, you're taking a detour to visit your girlfriend."

"Nope, not at all. I drive directly from home to work, taking the shortest route. And I return from work, also taking the shortest route. No detours, no side trips. I come directly home and it's 15 miles to get home, making it a 20-mile round-trip to work and home from work."

And he goes on to say: "Last week the boss called and asked me to report to another location for a few days to fill in for someone who was on vacation. Ready for this? On those days I drove 15 miles to get to work, but then the ride home was only 5 miles."

The question is - how can this be?

RAY: I guess there are other possible answers than the one that we came up with, but let's assume that guy number one works at some place like a fast-food restaurant on the highway. So he gets on the highway near his house and drives five miles to work. But to get home, he's got to drive to the next exit which is five miles away, to turn around and come back. So that’s five miles to the exit, another five miles just to get to the opposite side of the highway from his workplace, and then five miles to his house. So who’s our winner?

TOM: Our winner is Ken Scholz from Palo Alto, California. Congratulations!

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