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Pip R. Lagenta
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Friday, February 8th, 2008

Time Event
Cow-Orker Math
A few years ago, I came in to work one evening and was asked by a cow-orker how to divide a dollar among three boys.  I said “give them each thirty-three cents and keep a penny for yourself.”  The cow-orker thought that my answer was funny.  Since it was funny, he thought that I was “just kidding” and not giving him an accurate answer.  Assuming, then, that I did not give him an accurate answer because I did not know the answer, he called his girlfriend to ask her the same question.  I don’t know what she told him, but the cow-orker later expressed surprise to me that her answer was essentially the same as mine.


The above is a favorite story of mine.  I have told it on several occasions.  Often, when I tell this story, I am asked why the cow-orker thought that my answer was funny.  A true answer to this question would require mind-reading skills that I do not (for the most part) possess.  However, I have worked with this cow-orker for over ten years now.  He is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet, and he reads his Bible every day.  I know him reasonably well.


After having thought, for some time, about why my answer would seem funny to him, I think that I can make an attempt at an explanation.  It is not a short explanation.


1)     My cow-orker asked me a math question.  But I whipped out my answer instantly.  My cow-orker did not see me sit down with paper and pencil to work out the math problem.  If I did not do math, then I could not be giving my cow-orker an answer to his math question.  My answer could only have been a joke.


2)     I am the office clown.  I say funny things all the time.  The cow-orker to which I am referring is a particular fan of my quips.  The manner in which I answered my cow-orker’s question was similar in style and approach to the delivery of my witticisms.  My answer could only have been a joke.


3)     The answer that I gave to my cow-orker was ludicrous.  That is to say, the numbers that I gave in the answer were silly numbers.  The number was thirty-three.  Thirty-three is not a nice, round, sensible, every day number, like “twenty” or “thirty” would be.  In answering my cow-orker, I spitted out goofy numbers.  My answer could only have been a joke.


4)     I am telling my cow-orker to steal.  My answer included the words keep a penny for yourself.  This is theft.  In my answer, I am telling my cow-orker to risk his job, and his immortal soul, for a penny.  My answer could only have been a joke.


The four points above constitute, as a whole, irrefutable proof that I don’t know how to divide a dollar among three people.  By the way, if I were to give a joke answer to my cow-orker’s question, it would be “give them each a quarter and keep a quarter for yourself.”

---Pip R. Lagenta

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