Thinking Straight
( September, 2001 Volume 1 No.4 )

A group of friends were overheard laughing and having fun when the sound of laughter suddenly faded. Someone (who, incidentally, happened to be the only girl in the group) had come up with a problem none of the group could solve. It was obviously really annoying one particular guy in the group who always promoted himself as the smart one _ the one who always knew the answers. "Okay, repeat it one more time," the guy was saying, obviously frustrated. She laughed at his obvious frustration and obliged. "For the office manager's birthday, three of the senior staff decided to buy him a present," she said. "Each forked out $10 and handed the $30 to the manager's secretary, who was on the way to the shopping center. They told her to buy one particular shirt that they had all seen the day before in one of the shops. The price tag was $30 so the money was just right.
"The secretary went to the shop as they had requested. When she walked in, the shop owner turned out to be an old friend and after a long chat the friend insisted on discounting the already discounted shirt to just $25. "On the way back to the office, the secretary thought about dividing up the change and decided it would be difficult to split $5 among three. “Anyway, hadn't she managed to get it cheaper when no one else could have? Hadn't she gone down to the shopping center using her own money? "So she kept two dollars to cover her taxi fare and walked back in with a dollar change for all three of her colleagues and a beautifully gift-wrapped shirt.
"Everybody was happy. They had each received a dollar back when they hadn't expected anything, and the secretary had her trip paid for and had made contact again with an old acquaintance. "But then she started thinking. The money didn't add up. If she had collected $10 from each of her colleagues, and now the three of them paid just $9 each, that was three times nine, which should be $27. Add two dollars for the taxi, and that was $29. She had gone out with $30. So what happened to the other dollar?" When the woman finished speaking, she looked at her clever friend. He wasn't looking any less puzzled than when she had started and she saw that, for once, she had him totally confounded. Why don't you try to solve the mystery? If you cannot figure it out, don't worry! You can always cheat and look up the answer in the box below.