Tim and Jethro's Pump-Side Wager

May 03, 2004

RAY: Tim and Jethro were happy to have their jobs at the new self-serve gas station in town. And, since the Farmer's Almanac had predicted this to be the coldest winter since the last ice age, they were happy to be working indoors, while the customers pumped their own gas.

This station was so modern that it had a video camera for each of the pumps, and a TV monitor that would show the rear of everyone's vehicles as soon as they pulled up to the pumps.

When the boredom of their jobs finally set in, Tim and Jethro began playing a little game. The game involved trying to figure out which customers had pulled up to a pump with the fuel door on the wrong side-- that is, facing away from the pump.

Now, they couldn't see the cars pull in to the gas station. The video cameras were only aimed at the back of the vehicles. So, there was no time during which they could see the side of a vehicle where the fuel door was located. They could only see the vehicle after it was in position to refuel.

They had to make their bets before the driver shut off the key and exited the vehicle-- before he dope slapped himself for pulling in on the wrong side.

Jethro was correct 99 percent of the time. Tim was correct about 50 percent of the time, because he was just guessing.

What did Jethro know that enabled him to tell when a driver had pulled up to the pump with the fuel door facing the wrong way?
RAY: Well, it turns out that 99 percent of the time the fuel door is on the opposite side of the car as the tailpipe.

By being able to see the back of the car and seeing the exhaust—don't forget it was wintertime, and you see that exhaust spewing out— Jethro could easily figure it out.

TOM: The one percent might have been cars with two tailpipes.

RAY: There are also some trucks that are exceptions to this rule, but the vast majority of cars have the fuel door on the opposite side of the tailpipe's. Do we have a winner, Tommy?

TOM: Our winner this week is Amos Pareen from Charleston, West Virginia. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Amos gets a $26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division of Cartalk.com.

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