Too-Good-To-Be-True Used Car

Feb 23, 2009

RAY: This is from my barely automotive puzzler series. Here it is:

A woman and her husband decide to go shopping one Saturday for a used car. (This is the automotive part of the puzzler). So they go to the neighborhood used-car dealer and a young man is shows them the various cars in the lot.

They don't seem to be really excited about any one of them. Finally, the used-car dealer says, "Oh, how could I have forgotten this one? I have just the car for you. I know you are going to love it."

He takes them over to a late model Japanese car. "You are not going to believe this. This car belonged to my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Johnson. It's a wonderful car, and she treated it very well, and had all the service done here. Interestingly, she never left town with the car. All she ever did with the car was drive from home to school and back, and on Sundays she went to church. She never used the car on Saturdays."

They look over the car and it looks magnificent. So the woman asks the obvious question: "Why did Ms. Johnson sell the car?"

"Well, as luck would have it,' he says, 'She was called out of town on very short notice to care for a sick relative in the Midwest someplace so she came in here last week and sold us the car, and of course, it's your good fortune that it's here. But this is a wonderful car."

The woman gets in behind the wheel, and starts up the engine. It sounds fine. The husband sits in the passenger seat and they fiddle with the controls. She fiddles with the controls on the dashboard, tries the wipers, blows the horn, and looks around the car.

'Geez, honey,' her husband says, 'It's a great color, too. I think we ought to get it."

"I don't think so,' she says, as she turns off the key. 'He's lying to us."

The question is, how did she know? The answer is not that the salesman was moving his lips.


RAY: Here's the answer. I'd said that the woman got in the car and fiddled with all the controls. She blew the horn, she turned on the heater, ran the wipers. She also turned on the radio.

And when she turned on the radio, she noticed that it was not set to a local station. In fact, there was noise coming across. So she tried another station, and another, and another. And in every case, the presets were set to stations that were not local stations, so this car clearly was from out of town. And if the story were absolutely true that Miss Johnson never left town then how could she have listened to these stations?

TOM: Wow, man!

RAY: So, who's our winner, Tommy?

TOM: How clever! Our winner this week is Andy Parolla from Commawela, Hawaii. Congratulations, Andy!

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