Selection from Pyramids of Thrush Creek


          “What?  Are you working on Sunday?”  Roger grinned.

            “No,” George responded.  “I’m just trying to figure out where I went wrong.  Yesterday I started working on some bookcases for a client.  But I ran out of lumber.  I was using number one common lumber.  That has knots and defects in it.  Number one common is supposed to yield sixty-seven percent good material.  In other words, I could expect to lose thirty-three percent when I cut out all the defects.  I need forty-five square feet of nice wood for the project.  So I added thirty-three percent to that and bought sixty square feet of rough lumber.  Now I have all the defects cut out and I only have forty square feet.  I’m short five feet.”

            “You started with sixty square feet and ended up with forty.”  Roger sounded like a school teacher.  “That’s thirty-three percent waste, isn’t it?”

            “Right,” George agreed.  “I added thirty-three percent to what I needed and I had thirty-three percent waste.  So, why am I short five feet?”

            Rick chuckled, “I guess the five feet of lumber went to the same place that Roger’s missing dollar went last week.”

            “Okay, you can make fun of me.”  Roger had received his share of ribbing from Rick over that mistake.  And he had accepted it in good humor.

            “I thought you guys are so smart,” George quipped.  “You’re always arguing about the origin of the universe or some other intellectual issue.  I thought you’d be able to help me with a simple math problem.”

            Rick realized that Roger, always eager to be one up on George, was about to explain his mistake.  But before we help him, we ought to have a little fun.  If I start it, I’m sure Roger will play along.  “That’s not my department.” Rick winked at Roger.  “That’s teaching.  I’m just a bean counter.”

            “But today is Sunday,” Roger shot back.  “I don’t work on Sundays.”

            “Oh, now he’s becoming religious?” Rick turned to George with raised eyebrows.

            “I don’t care if it comes from an accountant or a teacher,” George sounded desperate.  “I just need somebody to explain where I’m screwing up.”