Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Anecdote # 919 part two

The Flexible Nature Of Numbers.

my life-long friend, mentor, and ex-manager stan once told me this brain teaser as an illustration of the flexible nature of numbers.

three salesmen were traveling together. they decided to stop for the night at a cheap hotel. they agreed to share one room. the receptionist told them the room would cost $30, so they put in 10 dollars a piece and went to their room. a few minutes later, the receptionist realized she had overcharged the salesmen. the room should have cost $25. so she gave the bellboy five singles and instructed him to give the money back to the salesmen. on his way to their room the bellboy thought, "how am I supposed to split five dollars between three guys?" he decided to keep two dollars and give the salesmen one dollar each, which is what he did.

now the salesmen had each paid 9 dollars for the room.
9 times 3 equals 27.
plus the 2 the bellboy kept equals 29.
where is the other dollar?


  1. 9 x 3 = 27, which is what they paid, minus the $2.00= 25.00- which is what they actually were charged.

    My husband, the numbers guy, is the one who figured this out. I am still stuck on the last post. All I can think about is my mother saying, "you didnt have underwear on? That money is filthy! Do you know how many hands it's been in?"

  2. Is this why he's your ex-manager? Trying to trick you with money?? Ha! Hope you enjoy your tour in Japan. You must make alot of money over there to spend a week in a country that's smaller than California.

  3. I remember one of my math teachers in Jr. High giving us this problem. The fallacy is in adding the $2 to the 27. You need to subtract it. Adding sounds right, but it's not. Creative accounting! :)

  4. Small world... One of the bills on the photo is an old chilean bill (500 pesos). They don´t make that bill anymore, replaced with a coin, several years ago and I have the chance to see one again on the blog of one of the most respected musicians in the world... weird surprise. Could please tell where you get that photo or the bills?

    Mr. Belew, please continue with the excellent writting. I enjoy always reading your personal insights and anecdotes. Specially I really enjoyed the story about the bones in the airport, Bill Bruford replaying "They have to be consecutives?", and many more.
    Kind regards.

  5. joselbaez:
    I photographed that money yesterday to go with the blog.
    I have a collection of money from all the countries I've played.
    most of it in coin.

    I also have a sizable postcard collection from the countries I've played.
    some very interesting postcards.

    when I first began touring I collected room keys from europe and vintage sunglasses from america.

  6. I'm amazed!!!

    Wait wait wait.... I have another way...


    30 - 5(give back the money) = 25


    *30 - 2(bellboy takes) = 28

    *the 25 + the 3 (the sales man)= 28

    28 = 28

    ther's no other dollar

    Ohh!! you need to add 3 points to the 25.
    They pay

    He he...
    The numbers are as flexible as our mind... we need be awake!!!!!

    Muy divertida trivia Amigo.

  7. Its just like those interweaving crimson guitbox arpeggios, you end up in a place
    strangely offset from what you anticipated - but then you guys do that on purpose and I never feel ripped off!

  8. Fire the bellboy already. He's dishonest and he's causing everyone a headache.

  9. That could REALLY be a tricky one if you are not on your toes hehehe! I like that one! There is no missing dollar. The room cost $25 not $30. They were refunded $5 but the bellboy kept $2 for himself. Nice.... Tamra Victoria Coke