No Numbers Numbers

An employer didn’t want to hire a particular applicant, so he decided to give him a nonsense test, hoping the man wouldn’t be able to answer the questions. The employer figured that when the man couldn’t figure out any sensible answer, he would just give up without an argument.

So the employer gave the man his first question: “Without using numbers or letters or hash marks, write down a way to represent the number 9.”

The applicant said, “That’s easy” and proceeds to draw three trees.

The employer responded, “What the hell is that?”

The man said, “Tree ‘n tree ‘n tree makes nine.”

“Fair enough,” said the employer. “Your second problem is to use the same rules, but represent the number 99.”

The man stared into space for a while, then made a smudge on each tree. “There you go sir,” he said confidently.

The employer scratched his head and said, “How on earth is that supposed to represent 99?”

The job seeker explained, “Each tree is dirty now! So it’s dirty tree, ‘n dirty tree, ‘n dirty tree. That’s 99!”

The employer was getting worried that he’d have to hire the guy, so he said, “All right, question three. Same rules again, but represent the Number 100.”

The man stared into space again, then shouted, “Got it!” He made little marks at the base of each tree, and said, “There you go sir, 100.”

The employer looked at page and said, “You must be mad if you think that represents a hundred!”

The man leaned forward and pointed to the marks at the tree bases, and said, “A little dog came along and pooed by each tree, so now you’ve got dirty tree an’ a turd, dirty tree an’ a turd, dirty tree an’ a turd, which makes one hundred. Now when do I start the job?”

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