Billy Bob's 50-Cent Habit

Jun 05, 1999

RAY: Hi, we're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and the new Puzzler.

TOM: The new, exciting, scintillating...

RAY: No, I didn't say that.

TOM: Brilliant!

RAY: This was sent in by--recently! I mean, I just received this. Do you know the date on this thing? 5/10/99.

TOM: Holy cow!

RAY: You know, it kind of fell on my desk. It was on the top, and I read it, and I said, "Sounds better than the garbage I was going to use." This was sent in by William Morrison from Midland, MI. Michigan. You ready?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Every morning on his way to work, Billy Bob Beaumont stops at the corner gas station and spends $.25 for gas. Every evening on his way home, he stops at the same station and again spends $.25 for gas. He continues this pattern for some months. The amount he spends never varies. Nor does the twice-a-day schedule.

TOM: Really?

RAY: Finally the attendant, who has observed Billy Bob's routine says, "You know, if you'd spend about $10 on a repair, you wouldn't have to stop here so often."

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: What is the simple repair the attendant has in mind? And the hint, which I have to give, is that it has nothing to do with the fuel system.

TOM: Wow! That's beautiful.

RAY: Now, there are lots of potential answers to this.

TOM: There are?

RAY: Well, I suppose so. I mean, he could say, "Well, you know, he was buying gasoline and the thing was running so badly that he had to adjust the carburetor or anything," but there was only one elegant answer.

TOM: Oh, and it is elegant. It is.

RAY: That the "gas" he's buying is not gasoline, but instead he's buying "gas" which is air for his tires or a tire that has a leak.

TOM: And that's why it's always $.25.

RAY: He puts $.25 in the machine; the thing goes ding, ding, ding; he fills up his tire; and off he goes. He buys his gasoline someplace else.

TOM: Does it say dingaling?

RAY: Dingaling, and then, of course, the tire's flat after his day at work. He stops at the same filling station again, inserts another quarter--$.25 worth of gas. So, some may go boo-hoo, hiss-hiss, etc., but...

TOM: But, as we all did when you told us the answer!

RAY: Yeah.

TOM: But in retrospect, I have to say, it's brilliant.

RAY: Well, if you think that one was bad, wait till you hear this week's.

TOM: Because a Puzzler should be a Puzzler! It should be puzzling!

RAY: Indeed. All right, who's our winner this week?

TOM: Our winner is Alyse D'Smith.

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