Short, Sweet, Succint, To The Point...

Jul 26, 1997

RAY: Then I'll jump right into the Puzzler. A fellow by the name of Tom Walsh from Anaconda, Montana is responsible for this so make sure --

TOM: Ooh, did he invent the poker game?

RAY: You monitor the mail very carefully, Doug, so if he sends in the right answer don't send him that T-shirt. No, and he in fact will win, for his contribution to our show, a Car Talk T-shirt of course if he cares to have one.

TOM: Sure. Throw in our Save The Skeets bumper sticker too.

RAY: I like Puzzlers like this because they're succinct, they're to the point, their main strength is their brevity of course and I don't like to have Puzzlers that are long winded. You know, if you have to describe something --

TOM: Because you sort of contribute that part of it yourself.

RAY: If you have to describe something in great depth then the elegance of the Puzzler begins to be diminished. So you like to have a Puzzler that's short, to the point, can be stated usually --

TOM: Will you get to the point?

RAY: Oh, I'm sorry. Here it is, I'll read it just as Tom sent it to us. Dear knuckle heads -- no.

TOM: Dear jerks.

RAY: Dear Jack, oh he spelled Jack - JERK. I will actually of course try to improve it -- he sent this to the Puzzler department.

TOM: You're going to read it exactly as he wrote it but you're going to improve it.

RAY: Yeah, because he screwed it up.

TOM: Send him a dirty T-shirt, he didn't write it correctly.

RAY: What moving, wearing part -- a part that you wear out, moving part.

TOM: Moving, wearing part, yeah.

RAY: Of a car is least likely to wear out?

TOM: Ooh. That's good.

RAY: Of course he gives the answer but I'll give a hint.

TOM: Does it need a hint?

RAY: It needs a hint only because I didn't get it. The hint is --

TOM: Oh, gee, are you sure? This is a big hint, man. I mean when you gave me this hint even I got it.

RAY: Oh, that's true. I won't give the hint. That's right, my brother got it and he never gets any of them.

TOM: I don't think we should give the hint.

RAY: Well, if you think you know the answer with or without -- if you need the hint --

TOM: Call us up.

RAY: Write to us and we'll send the hint to you under special cover, but if you don't need the hint and you think you know the answer write to us at -- the hint is, it's a little tricky -- I mean...

TOM: It's not tricky, it's good. It's an excellent Puzzler.

RAY: It is a superb Puzzler and in keeping with the show --

TOM: What's good about it is it's brief, concise, it's to the point, it doesn't need a lot of explanation, doesn't need any hints. Would you read it again?

RAY: As people who listen to the show know, we wouldn't have a Puzzler unless it was superb. What moving part, wearing part, wearing.

TOM: A part that can wear out and can move.

RAY: Now, in the Einsteinian realm it has to move in the frame of reference of the car. I mean the car moves, I mean the seats move, don't they not?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: As the car is traveling down the road is not your spare tire moving?

TOM: Yes.

RAY: But that's not the spirit of the Puzzler.

TOM: -- Einsteinian wise here, in relation to the car even, it moves. Yes. Here's a hint. In some cars it never wears out. That's a good hint, right? Some cars end up in the junk yard and this piece isn't worn out at all, or never even moved. Never even moved.

RAY: But it can move.

TOM: That's a good hint.

RAY: When they hear the answer they're going to say oh, boy, that's a -- that was --

TOM: No, they're going to say that's pretty clever, I wish I had thought of it.

RAY: We'll find out when we get our hate mail, when the truckloads of hate mail come in. The part is the gear that turns the pole. These are moving parts which are capable of course of wearing. The gear that turns the pole on the first digit of your odometer. Not the miles digit, but the 10,000 miles digit and in some cars that are presumptuous, like Volvos, a 100,000 digit.

TOM: But some cars just go to 9. 99,999.9.

RAY: Right. But that gear in 100,000 miles is only going to turn once.

TOM: That's right.

RAY: And it goes ...and it trips that little pole and it moves the digit and then you drive the car to the junk yard.

TOM: That's it, right.

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