Life of a Salesman

Dec 03, 2011

RAY: The germ of this puzzle was presented by one of my customers, who also happens to be, and has been for the past 30 years, a traveling salesman.
When he first started out on this job, he immediately fell into disfavor with the company hierarchy, because they assigned him exotic places like Moose Jaw, Maine and Freeze-Your-Butt, New Hampshire. He would have to travel by car from one location to another. And he often found himself, because he was a salesman, driving from town to town in the winter looking for cheap motels in which to spend the night.
His route was Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Upstate New York. Whew! Terrible!
TOM: Man! He really ticked somebody off!
RAY: Well, worse than that, when the weather got nice they shipped him down to Florida, Georgia, Alabama…. Then, as soon as the winter came...
TOM: Back he goes.
RAY: And he began to notice a disturbing thing. When he would stop at these motels, oftentimes the owner of the motel was also the clerk, and they'd have you fill out that little card--you know, name, address, home phone--in case you skipped out in the middle of the night. And, he said, in some of those cards they had a little thing that said OCCUPATION. And in some cases the cards had nothing that asked for occupation, but it seemed to be always the case that the motel owner would ask him what he did for a living.
When he said he was a salesman, he would almost always be assigned a room on the second floor. I asked him if it had anything to do with the car that he drove. And he said, "I guess you could say so. At the time I was driving a Volkswagen." And that's your hint.
Why was he always assigned to a room on the second floor?
RAY: Here's the answer. You have to look for all the little hints. He started working 30 years ago, and he had been working as a traveling salesman continuously. He drives a lot, he's concerned about getting what now? Come on. Come on, you can do it.
TOM: Gasoline!
RAY: Yeah, he's concerned about getting good mileage. So he buys himself a Volkswagen. But not just any old Volkswagen. A VW diesel. Because he's in Moose Jaw, Maine, and Freeze-Your-Butt, New Hampshire, in the wintertime, he's got to plug the thing in overnight. Otherwise, it won't start.

The reason the motel owners put him on the second floor all the time is so they could see the extension cord that the salesman had run from his motel room to his car. He was trying to sneak some electricity! But being annoyed at the salesman's petty electrical theft, the motel owners would unplug the extension cord in the middle of the night. So, if you were a salesperson plying your trade at that time, you often got unplugged. Who's our winner?
TOM: The winner this week is Scott Kunsel from Crete, Nebraska. Congratulations Scott!

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