Of Subways, Tokens, and Silent Transactions

Apr 26, 1997

RAY: A blind man enters the subway by walking down the stairs...

TOM: I remember it well.

RAY: ... with the assistance of his seeing-eye dog. When he gets to the bottom of the stairs, there is a cage, behind which a woman is sitting. She is the token vendor.

TOM: Yes.

RAY: And there's a sign there that says tokens, 40 cents. The dog pees on the floor, he reaches into his pocket and through the slit in the cage, he hands her a dollar. No words are spoken. She has never seen him before and he's certainly never seen her. She hands him two tokens and 20 cents change. Now you know this puzzler is from years ago because there's not a subway token in the world that costs 40 cents anymore.

TOM: They're so expensive now that you have to sneak underneath the little turnstyle...my back is breaking...I'm doing the limbo..I've developed a nice slide technique...yeah!

RAY: The question is very simple...how did she know he wanted two tokens? You have all the information that you need to solve this puzzle before you and some that you don't need.

TOM: How about he gives her the dollar and he raises two fingers?

RAY: He does no such thing!

TOM: It would work!

RAY: You have all the information you need. Or I could give a hint, but I don't think it's necessary.

TOM: No, I wouldn't give any hints. I think it's beautiful as it stands!


TOM: Is the dog involved?

RAY: The dog is not involved.

TOM: Is the fact that he is blind involved?

RAY: Only tangentially.

TOM: Oh!

RAY: That was in the way of a hint.

TOM: Oh!

RAY: A very small hint.

TOM: Everything counts.

RAY: Yeah. Very small hint. And the answer, very simply, is that he didn't give her a dollar bill, he gave her, in fact, four quarters.

TOM: So simple.

RAY: So simple. Of course if he had given her four quarters he'd wanted two tokens otherwise he would have given her two quarters for which he would have received one token and a dime change.

TOM: Right. What if he had given her like three quarters? She would have given him a dope slap.

RAY: No. She would have given him a dime change and token.

TOM: Here you are sir!

RAY: Who's our winner?

TOM: The winner is Rebecca Dodson from Hawkins, Texas.

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