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Bob is a temp working with a construction company in repairing roads and barriers. One day Bob got called up to repair a barrier along a strip of highway. Bob will need 100 "Company X" pylons to divert traffic away from his site while he repairs. Being the best employee around, Bob goes into work the day before to round up the pylons he needs. After looking everywhere in the warehouse, Bob is only able to find 50 "company X" pylons! He then realized John must have taken the rest and hidden them from Bob. Bob also found a note that says his supervisor will be driving by each site tomorrow for inspection! If his supervisor sees that Bob is not following protocol of using proper pylons, he will surely be fired!

The next day after Bob was clever and did some tricks he was able to finish the repairs without getting fired.

How did Bob save his job?

Notes:

  • Bob has the rest of the day to prepare, and has the supplies in the warehouse to his disposal (But there are no other "Company X" pylons).

  • If Bob tried to use hand craft fake pylons (or non "Company X" pylons), his supervisor would surely notice and Bob would not be following company rules!

  • Bob has already called John asking for pylons but John said he buried them and encrypted the location. (John won't share the encryption, he's said too much already)

  • There is shipment being made to the warehouse in 2 days with more pylons, but this will be too late for Bob.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice work ruling out the obvious answer: You must construct additional pylons. $\endgroup$ – VictorHenry May 19 '15 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ I updated part of the question as I notice after, that one of my sentences limited a possible solution. $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, do you have an intended solution to this problem yourself? (Also, has murder been ruled out for this one, too?) $\endgroup$ – Bailey M May 19 '15 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ In the UK (and many other places) what are described here as "pylons" are referred to as traffic cones, and a pylon is something else. (I post this because the question confused me a lot until I realised what was meant!) $\endgroup$ – psmears May 19 '15 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Why isn't Bob working with Alice? $\endgroup$ – corsiKa May 19 '15 at 21:39

12 Answers 12

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First of all, break the rear-view mirrors of the supervisor's car (admit it, you've always wanted to do that!).
Then, split each pylon into two identical pieces, and place them along the road. Without a rear-view mirror, the supervisor won't notice that the pylons were divided!

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I understand the significance of breaking the mirrors. Can't the supervisor see pylons directly without looking in the rear view? If it's that he'll only see the one half of each split pylon, that seems risky... The odds that someone doing an inspection wouldn't notice that are pretty low. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O May 19 '15 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ I do look out my side-window at times. If I even glance to the side or use any peripheral vision at all, I'd see half-pylons as I drive by them. I agree this is probably the "right" answer to the given puzzle, but I can't see how this would actually work. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O May 19 '15 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ You just need to add another step: put the boss in a neck brace so he can only see straight ahead :-) $\endgroup$ – Kevin May 19 '15 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ It might be a little counterproductive to the goal of not getting fired, though... $\endgroup$ – Kevin May 19 '15 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ There are at least two problems I can see with this solution: 1. The structural integrity of the cones would be compromised by cutting in half - they wouldn't stand up straight. 2. The supervisor views them from at least a 45 degree range of angles between "distant view" and "just about to pass", so they wouldn't be facing him. It could perhaps be dealt with by creating an additional supporting structure, and some kind of clever turntable to rotate it as the supervisor approaches, but Bob would hardly have enough time for that kind of engineering 100 times over! $\endgroup$ – Steve May 20 '15 at 9:04
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Bob arranges for a traffic jam at the time the supervisor is passing, so the supervisor can pass the site only very slowly, and can be strategically stopped for a few minutes at critical moments.

As the supervisor arrives, "company X" pylons are in use for the first half of the site, "company Y" pylons for the second part of the site, and Bob has 25 spare "company Y" pylons in his truck.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
[Car]___[Traffic jam whose movement Bob can control]
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
[Bob's truck]

As the car passes, Bob starts collecting the "Company X" pylons in his truck, replacing them with "Company Y" ones, until he has switched 25 of them:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
[Traffic stuck behind supervisor]___[Car]___[Traffic jam whose movement Bob can control]
YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
                   [Bob's truck]

At this point, Bob arranges for the traffic to stop completely for a while, and races past (in the enclosed area) to start replacing the "company Y" pylons with "company X" ones. The supervisor still has "company X" pylons as far as he can see ahead and behind (if necessary Bob may need to arrange for strategically placed trucks within the traffic jam!).

The traffic starts moving again, and all the middle 50 pylons are of "company X" type by the time the supervisor passes the midpoint:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
            [Traffic stuck behind supervisor]___[Car]___[Traffic jam whose movement Bob can control]
YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
                                                                  [Bob's truck]

Bob now has another 25 company Y pylons in his truck, so races back to start replacing the company X pylons for the second set of 25...

... and repeats the same process to get the final 25 pylons as "company X" type by the time the supervisor passes that section.

The supervisor observes "company X" pylons all the way along, and Bob racing back and forth, obviously working very hard.

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Obviously

The repair work was not critical or immediately visible, so Bob cordoned off half the work area he needed to. Thus, he only needed 50 pylons instead of 100. When his boss drove by, he saw a properly cordoned off work area, and went on his merry way. Bob continued his work on the first half. When it was completed, he cordoned off the second half and performed his work there as well. He uses, in total, 100 pylons, by using the same 50 twice.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem stated that Bob needed 100 pylons for his site..This does not attempt to solve the problem $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkN I wasn't as clear as I meant. Basically, I was going for the idea of splitting the work in half, cordoning off the first part to do the work on that half and then cordoning off the second half and doing the work there. He uses, in total, 100 pylons, by using the same 50 twice. Updated my answer. $\endgroup$ – tfitzger May 19 '15 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for adding more information to your answer, it helps clarify your solution. $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 16:38
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Bob "peels" each pylon, effectively seperating the inside from the outside. If he has a long enough knife, he can do this without leaving any visible cuts.

Here is a depiction of the cross section of a pylon during this process.

enter image description here

(I'm assuming that traffic cones are orange all the way through. If it's just surface paint, then the "inside" cone will look obviously different)

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    $\begingroup$ Awesome! A ridiculous answer for a ridiculous question! $\endgroup$ – Atsby May 20 '15 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Out of all of the answers, this one actually makes the fewest assumptions IMO $\endgroup$ – Matt Taylor May 20 '15 at 17:44
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Ok here goes:

Per the original clue:

Bob also found a note that says his supervisor will be driving by each site tomorrow for inspection

This indicates:

More than one site will be inspected, therefore more than one site exists. Since Bob has time, he can visit one or more other sites, and "collect" (steal) an additional 50 cones to install at his site, to avoid being fired.

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This might work:

If Bob's boss is predictable, Bob can plan (or pretend) to

start or finish the work during the inspection. Then, he would be either setting up the pylons or taking them down.

This way, his boss will not know that only 50 pylons were used. It would be reasonable to assume that either 50 pylons

were still on their way (if they were just getting started) or that 50 pylons had already been taken back (if they were finishing).

If that won't work:

If his boss isn't so predictable, Bob can

place a GPS tracker on his boss' car.

This is quite possibly illegal, so it would be better if he didn't have to resort to this.

Note:

Even though Bob is tricking his boss, he should make sure that he stays safe - fake pylons might not trick his boss, but they would convince traffic. They can be stacked under the real pylons during the inspection so that his boss won't be able to see them.

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  • $\begingroup$ A clever alternative of 'tricking' the supervisor! Although it might not look as well on Bob (depending on the time of day) it could work to save his job. $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 17:12
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Bob, having a full day and night, goes and picks up the shipment of extra pylons himself instead of waiting for them.

He takes a plane if he needs too. He stays up all night if he needs too. He is a very dedicated hard worker, that Bob.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please put your answer in spoiler tags (put the spoilery bits in their own paragraph with >! before them) $\endgroup$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit May 20 '15 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ @QPaysTaxes I'm not sure I understand the point. What am I potentially spoiling? $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble May 21 '15 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ Heck if I know, but everyone else seems to be doing it, so I figure it's a good idea. $\endgroup$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit May 21 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think some people just like the yellow background, or making people hover over their answer to see it. Helps create curiosity. I could see if the question was really short, you might glance down and have the answer spoiled, but I don't think this question has that danger. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble May 21 '15 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ It might also be so that people don't see the answer and get spoilers... But you're right; on this question it doesn't really matter. $\endgroup$ – Fund Monica's Lawsuit May 21 '15 at 16:22
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Smoke and mirrors...

For each real pylon, strategically place a mirror so that an image of it will appear in the location where the next pylon should be (as viewed from a passing car).

A cloud of smoke blocks out the sun so that there will be no shadows to give away the deception.

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    $\begingroup$ Supervisor, seeing the smoke, may think that it's all on fire! $\endgroup$ – leoll2 May 19 '15 at 17:03
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Isn't it obvious? He...

... records the phone call with John, present this as evidence to his boss, gets John fired and takes the pylons John was going to use. This is a "clever trick", as per the description.

Another potential (and more serious) answer:

If this is a barrier that splits a highway - i.e. it's along the median, not along the outer edge, then he can build a device to quickly transfer pylons from one side to the other. His supervisor will drive by one way, see 50 pylons, then they can be switched so that when the supervisor drives by the other way, he sees "another" 50 pylons. This is predicated on the barrier being in the median and on Bob knowing which side his supervisor will be driving on first.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question states that Bob needs 100 pylons to divert traffic away from his site. Using only 50 in this manner is not enough! $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also it was stated that John buried the pylons somewhere, so if you were to get him fired, he would have no reason to return the pylons. $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Well, John buried the stolen pylons somewhere, but he probably has some of his own, since presumably he's working tomorrow. Use those! Also, the 100 pylons can be split - 50 on one side, 50 on the other. If the barrier is high enough, the supervisor will only be able to see 50 at a time anyway. $\endgroup$ – Duncan May 19 '15 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ We don't have enough information about John to be useful (For all we know, he is just an advanced robot that stole the pylons to force Bob to think). Another issue is that if you assume there is construction on both side, you do not know which side the supervisor will be on. Also you are faced with the issue of getting to the other side with the pylons easily. [It seems that you are creating more problems that what is to be solved] $\endgroup$ – Mark N May 19 '15 at 16:51
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My other less practical solution was:

To sabotage the supervisors vehicle(s) such that he has to spend the day getting it repaired and preventing him from inspecting Bobs site. Thus Bob can make/use anything else for the remaining 50 pylons as his supervisor won't notice.
Obviously the supervisor might have other means of transportation, which is how this plan can fail, so Bob might have to result in setting a backup trap which will debilitate his supervisor for the day. (Hole to sprain his ankle or something)

Pretty much:

Instead of solving the current problem, alter the current problems viable solutions by removing the supervisor.

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Given that John also needs 100 pylons for his site:

Bob takes the 50 "company X" pylons but calls in tomorrow that he is late. Thus his chef inspects John's site first, where he finds that John has not properly secured and separated his site. As John gets fired and has to return his 50 pylons to the warehouse, Bob can pick them up before driving to his site and use the now returned 50 company X pylons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Any information regarding John was added more-so for story and humor, and not to be implemented as an answer (As there is not enough information about John given) - Such as he might not have a job, or even be in the same country. $\endgroup$ – Mark N Jun 1 '15 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, my bad, I had read "each site" as if they both had one. $\endgroup$ – LWChris Jun 1 '15 at 19:36
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Bob does half the work with the half the pylons on the first day when he came in early to prepare.

Then the second day, when his supervisor comes, he does the other half of the work. So each day he only has to block of 50 pylons worth of distance.

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