The Brick in the Parking Lot

The Brick in the Parking Lot

They say a certain manager was given the task of moving a brick in The Company parking lot. There was a list of rules established about how s/he could do this. The rules were simple:

1. Do not allow the brick to lose contact with the parking lot surface.
2. It must be moved horizontally, not vertically.
3. You cannot use any body part to directly move the brick;
a. You cannot push, pull, kick, or toss it with hands or feet
b. No direct physical contact between you and the brick is allowed during the process of moving the brick.
c. Direct physical contact between you and the brick is allowed only during preparation for the move.
4. You must use a tool or tools provided to you by the Executives at The Company.
5. You are required to complete the move in the time allotted, seven (7) minutes.
6. Failure to complete the task will result in demotion or termination.

The manager reported to the parking lot at the designated time and place. The brick was in the center of the parking lot with several cars parked around it. Next to the brick was a #10 manila envelope. The envelope was labeled “Brick-Moving Tool Kit.”

The manager opened the envelope. It contained an unopened plastic-bag package of 100 Medium Rubber Bands. There was also a small slip of paper which read

Link together to create a chain
not less than 72″ long. Use the
chain to relocate the brick to
the edge of the parking lot.

This seemed like a ridiculous assignment, and yet this manager could not afford to be demoted or terminated, so s/he sat down next to the brick to think about what to do. Fortunately s/he had the foresight to bring the original directive to the parking lot. After reviewing it and realizing the brick could be handled in preparing for the move, the manager got started working on the chain.

In a short while s/he had a chain just over six feet long. The next part of the plan was to decide how to attach the chain to the brick. The brick had to be moved horizontally and had to stay in contact with the surface of the parking lot. It was going to take some careful planning!

The manager thought about what would happen if the rubber band was attached to the brick. If the brick was at one end of the chain and s/he was at the other end, that chain would stretch a long way before the brick would move, and then the brick would move only as far as it would take for the brick to be stopped by friction. Pull-a-lot, stretch-a-lot, move-a-little. Pull-a-lot, stretch-a-lot, move-a-little. Pull too hard or too fast and the chain would break and the manager would get a strong rubber-band snap. Pull too slowly, and the 7 minutes might end before s/he got to the edge of the parking lot.

I will tell you that the manager made it with time to spare, without breaking the chain, and without breaking the rules either. S/he was promoted to Vice President of Planning.

Write me back and tell me how s/he did it.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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