Deserted Island

Jan 08, 2000

RAY: Ha! Wake up, Tommy! We're back, and you're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and, uh, the new Puzzler.

TOM: Of the new millennium.

RAY: Boy. Yeah. That's a lot of pressure.

TOM: Pretty exciting.

RAY: I mean, this should be like a pretty spectacular Puzzler. If I had known...

TOM: I mean, they're all spectacular.

RAY: If I had known it was the first Puzzler of the new millennium, I would have put more than five minutes of effort into it, but as such, I didn't, so here it is.

TOM: Is it, like, from a five-year-old e-mail?

RAY: Oh, yeah.


RAY: Anyway, here's the deal.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: You are kidnapped...

TOM: I like it already.

RAY: And unceremoniously dumped on a deserted island in the Pacific, a previously deserted island. You are now...

TOM: You are now...

RAY: And you have yet to meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Howell and Professor and Mary Ann. But this island basically is 10 miles long and about a hundred yards wide, and it's completely covered with grass and palm trees. And your captors have been nice enough to give you a few things to assist you in surviving. They've given you a supply of water.

TOM: Mmm-hmm. I got it.

RAY: A life-size poster of Ginger Grant. They've given you a flashlight and a box of matches and a blankie.

TOM: How nice.

RAY: You got it?

TOM: Yeah. No cable.

RAY: No cable TV. So, the first day, you walk around the island, and you notice that you've got no chance of escape because the island is sheer drop-off all around, 500 feet...

TOM: Oh, man!

RAY: Onto sharp rocks into shark-infested waters. So, there is no escape from this island, and you go to sleep that first night under your blankie, and you're awakened the next morning by the sound of thunder and the bright flash of lightning.

TOM: Oh-oh. I'm not going to like this.

RAY: I don't think so. And you realize that lightning has struck the far end of the island, OK? You're approximately in the middle, let's say, so five miles away from you, lightning has struck and has set the grass and palm trees on fire.

TOM: Oh, my God! And what's the second thing you say?

RAY: "Drat!" And as luck would have it, there's a breeze blowing from the fire toward you.

TOM: Toward you. Oh, man!

RAY: So, it's pushing the flame in your direction.

TOM: Got it.

RAY: And you can imagine that everything, everything on the island is going to be toasted.

TOM: Including...

RAY: Including...

TOM: Your butt.

RAY: You, unless you think quick.

TOM: Mmm-hmm.

RAY: And the question is: How do you save your sorry butt until your wife can pay off the ransom?

TOM: Fat chance.

TOM: You're in a lot of trouble!

RAY: You're done for! It's pushing the flames in your direction at a rate of, say, two miles an hour.

TOM: Yeah?

RAY: So if you run to the other end of the island, you've got five hours until it reaches you, and you know that everything on the island is going to be toasted, including you, unless you think quick.

TOM: Yeah!

RAY: And don't forget what you got. You got a flashlight.

TOM: Let me look at that list again.

RAY: Let's go back to the list.

TOM: A life-size poster of Ginger Grant.

RAY: Right.

TOM: A flashlight.

RAY: Right.

TOM: A box of matches.

RAY: Yeah, a lot of good they're going to do you! The island's already on fire, right?

TOM: A space blanket.

RAY: And a case of San Pellegrino.

TOM: How big is the case? Is it like a thousand gallons?

RAY: It's a case. Six, eight, 12 bottles.

TOM: Yeah, OK.

RAY: You could douse yourself with the San Pellegrino, right?

TOM: Yeah! No, that's not going to last long.

RAY: That's not going to work. No. You'll be burnt up.

TOM: You could douse the space blanket, but it won't absorb any of the water because it's, what? A space blanket.

RAY: Right. You could cover yourself with the space blanket and hope that the trees leave enough oxygen behind for you to breathe.

TOM: You could do all those things.

RAY: However, you save yourself with the matches. You turn around with your back to the fire.

TOM: Yeah?

RAY: And you light on fire the grass in front of you. The same wind that's blowing that fire toward you, is going to blow the new fire toward the end of the island and leave behind a place where there's nothing combustible.

TOM: Oh! Man! This is great!

RAY: And you'll escape, but you'll only last two more days because there'll be nothing to eat on the island, and you'll be dead, but you'll have gotten two more days!

TOM: And you would've won the Puzzler!

RAY: That too! And every firefighter knows that this is a classic firebreak.

TOM: Yeah, this is great!

RAY: Yeah, Ken Rogers said, as soon as you light that match, the wind changes direction!

TOM: And then you're really done.

RAY: Now, who's our winner, Tommy?

TOM: The winner is the guy on the island, whose name is, oh, Margaret Reynolds. That's a funny name for a guy. From Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter