Tommy pushes the MG up a hill

Jun 12, 2006

RAY: Last week, I had the misfortune of riding in Tommy's '52 MG-TD, with all sorts of disgusting stuff growing in it, and empty takeout food boxes. I realize that the "MG-TD" stands for, "My God, That's Disgusting!" However, I'd had a recent tetanus shot, so I figured I was alright.

We're driving along and at the bottom of the hill, Tommy lets the clutch out too fast and the car stalls. He tries to start it, but it won't start because the starter motor's dead. He says "Oh, it's been doing this for a while. I ordered a new one from England. They're going to make me one, but there's a blacksmith strike, so I might not get it for a while."

He says we'll have to push the car to the top of a little hill. It's 50 feet to get to where the rear wheels are at the crest, and then we'll roll down the long hill on the other side, and we'll pop the clutch, and the car will start up.

By good luck, I'm wearing the wrong shoes -- bedroom slippers, in fact. So, Tommy has to do the pushing. Here's what he does. He takes a puff of his cigar, rests it on the bumper and begins to push. After three feet of pushing he stops to rest, and takes another puff of his cigar. While he's doing that, the car rolls back two feet.

After his next restorative puff, he pushes three more feet up the hill, stops for another puff and a rest, and again the car rolls back two feet. He continues this all the way up.

There are three questions:

1. When does he have the heart attack;

B. Do they make a cigar long enough to make it up the hill;


Part C. How many puffs does it take to get us to the point where we can roll the car down the hill and get it started?
RAY: You might think it was 50 puffs, but the fact of the matter is that once Tommy's gotten the thing to 47 feet, the next push doesn't roll back the two feet because--

TOM: It's at the top of the hill!

RAY: Exactly. The rear wheels have reached the crest of the hill and it's ready to go down the other side.

It can't roll back. I leave my brother standing there pumping a cigar and I roll down the hill and jump start it, and say, "Adios!"

So, the answer is 48 puffs. Do we have a winner?

TOM: You bet we do! The winner this week is Sunshine Perlis, from Fayette, Maine. And for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got. Sunshine gets a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which she can get a Car Talk baseball cap. And the reason I suggest the baseball cap for her is that it has a visor especially designed for what?

RAY: Sunshine.

TOM: You figure her folks were hippies or what? They had to be, right?

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