Two Ways Home on a Dark and Stormy Night!

Jan 12, 2009

RAY: This came in from a fellow named Forest.

It was a dark, cold and stormy night. Two brothers (not us!) decided to meet after work for dinner and a few holiday drinks. Each of them had arrived in his own car and by the end of the evening, only one of them was sober enough to drive home.

Luckily they shared an apartment (see it isn't us!) so they could easily get home in one car but the restaurant didn't allow overnight parking. And there was no overnight street parking. With only one of them able to get behind the wheel, they realize towing or pushing one of their cars home was also out of the question even though their house was just three blocks away from the restaurant.

The sober brother has an idea. He would drive one car for a block, leaving his brother at the restaurant with the other car. Then he would walk back, drive his brother's car and his brother two blocks. Park it, walk back a block to his own car, and drive that two blocks home. Then he would walk back to his brother's car and drive that the remaining block home. Get it?

But his brother, the guy who is three-sheets to the wind, says he has a better idea. He said it would be far less walking if the sober brother drove the first car the three blocks home. Then walk back to the restaurant, and drive the second car, and the tipsy brother, home. He said it would be only 1/3rd of the walking. The sober brother agreed. How can this be?

RAY: Here's the answer:

The restaurant is located one block north of their house, but in an area of town with all one-way streets. So the drive from the restaurant to the house involves driving one block west, one block south, and finally one block east.

By the inebriated brother's plan, the total amount of driving for the two cars is still six blocks. But by driving the first car all the way home, he only had to walk a total of one block back to the restaurant to get his snarked brother and the second car and drive it home.

TOM: Brilliant!

RAY: So who's our winner?

TOM: Our winner this week is Andres Diaz from Santa Fe, New Mexico. And for having his answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Andres is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at, with which Andres can get a Car Talk 2009 page-a-day calendar!

RAY: Congratulations, Andres!

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