“Let’s play a game,” a colleague said, bounding into my office. “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I pay you $5.”
“Sounds like a stupid game,” I said.
“Fine,” he huffed, and stormed away.
A half-hour later he was back. “What if you pay me $5, but I pay you $10?” he asked.
“I got work to do. Still not interested.”
He left, but then he came back 15 minutes later. “You pay me $5, and I pay you $50?”
The game may be stupid, but I’m not.
“Okay, fine,” I said.
“What are the Sylow theorems?” he asked.
I’m not a fan of finite group theory, and I don’t know the answer. Nor do I care. I reached into my wallet and handed him $5. “Okay, now my question,” I said. “What has three teeth and runs around in a circle all day?” I asked him.
He gave me a puzzled look, then left for his office. He first checked all of his reference books; nothing. He then tried every conceivable search in Google; nada. In desperation, he queried some of our colleagues; zilch. Frustrated, he returned an hour later, and stuck $50 in my face. I took the money without looking up from my computer and said, “Now leave me alone. I have work to do.”
“I’m not leaving yet!” he insisted. “What’s the answer?”
I reached into my wallet and handed him another $5.