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I thought of this lateral thinking puzzle. Hopefully, it's not too broad and hasn't been asked before.

A man walks into a store, buys an item for $1, and throws it away along with the receipt on his way out. What item did he buy?

Notes:

  • His decision to throw the item away on his way out was completely justified.
  • He did not put anything in his mouth between buying the item and throwing it away.

EDIT: To make this question less broad, here are some notes that I should've had in the beginning:

  • He bought the item because he wanted the item.
  • "Throw away" means he put the item and the receipt in the trash can.
  • The item was reasonably priced at 1 USD in 2018.
  • He threw the item away because his perception of the item's intrinsic value changed.
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closed as too broad by Sid, ffao, puzzledPig, boboquack, Deusovi Apr 25 '18 at 11:34

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 24
    $\begingroup$ There are other reasons to share one's thoughts than having them rewarded as uniquely best. ^_^ $\endgroup$ – Zomulgustar Apr 17 '18 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ Hi, I’m relatively new. I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading through the unique and creative answers, so I think I am a fan of broader lateral thinking questions. Reading a little about the community rules I see how and why this sort of thing may be discouraged. Anyway, I am not here to break rules or join an argument, just wanted to voice my opinion 😊 $\endgroup$ – kedarguru Apr 18 '18 at 7:45
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    $\begingroup$ @kedarguru My question was originally too broad but I edited my question to add a few more details that invalidate most answers. So it shouldn't be too broad now. $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 18 '18 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Alconja, well in that case the Q should be downvoted because too many answers can be correct, thus it is an open-ended question and should be discouraged. $\endgroup$ – Octopus Apr 19 '18 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ 25 people have answered this question as of this point, the vast majority of which did so after an answer was already accepted. You're obviously not trying to find the correct solution, you're trying to find other clever or unusual answers which are Not Wrong for the puzzle as written. Why? Yes, it's fun, but almost every answer beyond the accepted one is either a dup, ignores part of the question, or is so illogical that the explanation for the action stretches credulity beyond all reason. lateral-thinking is not code for "anything goes". Please, don't answer just to answer. $\endgroup$ – Rubio Apr 24 '18 at 16:40

22 Answers 22

127
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It was

A scratch card. And presumably not a winning one.

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  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Well, that was fast :) $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 16 '18 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ They seem to cost $2 these days... Must be inflation. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hampton Apr 16 '18 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Seeing the puzzle title from HNQ, this was my immediate thought. $\endgroup$ – Kendra Apr 16 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelHampton There's plenty of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, and 20 dollar scratchers at most retail and convenience stores here, so it might be a regional thing. $\endgroup$ – phyrfox Apr 17 '18 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ This may be the first puzzle in PSE I've ever got right before reading the accepted answer $\endgroup$ – Shawn V. Wilson Apr 19 '18 at 5:20
109
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Perhaps he really needed to

use the restroom, but the store has a strict customer-only policy.

In this case, what he bought was

completely inconsequential.

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  • 36
    $\begingroup$ I've done this once at McDonald's - I've bought a ketchup package... $\endgroup$ – vaxquis Apr 17 '18 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ @vaxquis I paid a nickle for a cup of water once. I didn't even know you can buy a packet of ketchup. $\endgroup$ – Nelson Apr 18 '18 at 10:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Nelson Some franchise owners are cheapskates and try to cut costs by limiting the number of condiment packages a customer can have, extras cost more. For example, if you get a burger and fries, you might get 3 packets as part of the meal but if you want more, they charge you per pack. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Apr 18 '18 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @AndyT this happened to me only once, because I've only found one McD restaurant that indeed had their restrooms restricted, IMVHO mostly because it was in Zakopane, Poland - a city that has tons of mountain tourists, and thus extremely long restroom queues with absurdly long wait times. I suppose they did it so that their customers can use the restrooms at all. $\endgroup$ – vaxquis Apr 18 '18 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ I once bought a candy bar because I needed change, and the store wouldn’t make change except in conjunction with a purchase. Of course I ate it, but if the store didn’t have anything I could use (or resell), I might buy something and immediately throw it away. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Apr 24 '18 at 23:55
80
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He bought a newspaper, turned to the classifieds section, and read an ad. Then he threw away the newspaper. The ad could be anything: a secret spy communication, or a response to a proposal, or a code that's part of some puzzle game.

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  • 74
    $\begingroup$ I applaud the integrity of a man who would pay for a newspaper he only intended to glance at. $\endgroup$ – Allen R. Brady Apr 17 '18 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ Buy a newspaper, pull out the advertising insert with coupons, throw newspaper away, use coupons to get well over a dollar discount on shopping elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – arp Apr 18 '18 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ @AllenR.Brady If he's a spy, then confusion is part of the business. $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Apr 18 '18 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ You are over-complicating things. Plus, sending covert info via newspapers is so 1970's. Just post stuff on facebook... It has so much data that no one will notice or think it is "fake news." $\endgroup$ – Phil Apr 20 '18 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Phil I think the 2010s way of transmitting secret information is via comments in Puzzling.SE in the attic. $\endgroup$ – JiK Apr 22 '18 at 20:47
78
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Sounds like

A towel/handkerchief. He cleaned himself with it and tossed it out.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this is the second-best answer (after the accepted one) $\endgroup$ – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 16 '18 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ So disgusting. But I like it. $\endgroup$ – M. Hudson Apr 17 '18 at 7:44
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    $\begingroup$ Any single-use personal hygiene item (except a toothbrush as that goes in the mouth) or repair item (i.e. a cheap sewing kit or eyeglass screwdriver) would fit your idea. $\endgroup$ – arp Apr 18 '18 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ I had this thought, too, but $1 for one single use towel seems like a bit of a rip off, lol. $\endgroup$ – Octopus Apr 19 '18 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ You can get a paper towel for free... So why spend a $1. $\endgroup$ – Phil Apr 20 '18 at 20:27
63
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Yes, this is clearly the intended solution...

The man went into a dollar store in Australia, and bought one of those cheap souvenir boomerangs. He was justified in throwing it away on his way out as he expected it to return to him.

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    $\begingroup$ I couldn't figure out why he threw the receipt with it, though... $\endgroup$ – Zomulgustar Apr 17 '18 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ @AndyJuell he trained with the receipt first $\endgroup$ – O.Rares Apr 17 '18 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ This is a duplicate answer, yet somehow got 20 more upvotes than the original answer. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Apr 17 '18 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ @pacoverflow Oops, I did a quick scan for this answer but apparently msised it. Do I delete my answer? $\endgroup$ – Scott Apr 17 '18 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ No need...yours was evidently better written (mine did have a typo for much of the interim). Thanks for the thought, though. :) $\endgroup$ – Zomulgustar Apr 17 '18 at 22:23
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A cheap plastic boomerang. After catching it, being a responsible chap, he then picked up the receipt and deposited it in the recycling bin.

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  • 12
    $\begingroup$ Wow, you posted 2 hours before another guy with the same answer, and he got 20 upvotes. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Apr 17 '18 at 22:15
47
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For some reason,

the man was in a desperate need to know the time. Receipts have timestamps printed on them

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nah. He would turn around and ask the nearest person the time. That is free. $\endgroup$ – Phil Apr 20 '18 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Phil I know this sounds as an ad-hoc hypothesis, but he might be an undercover time traveler. $\endgroup$ – svavil Apr 20 '18 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe he has a huge social anxiety or he has no common language with the local people. Most likely both. $\endgroup$ – JiK Apr 22 '18 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Not a very reliable way - timestamps on receipt are often couple of hours off. $\endgroup$ – zagad Apr 23 '18 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @zagad Really? Surprised to hear that. That woul dmean they sometimes show the wrong date and even the wrong fiscal year. - But maybe I just live closer to Switzerland than you ... $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 23 '18 at 17:55
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It was 1965, and OP had just been to the Cinema to watch a movie.
On leaving the premises, OP throws away the ticket stub, which is also a receipt because it is proof of payment.
Answer: OP threw away a movie ticket stub.. Approximate value of a movie ticket over time http://www.boxofficemojo.com/about/adjuster.htm
OP might have watched:
* The Sound Of Music (Family)
* For a Few Dollars More (Western)
* Doctor Zhivago
* Thunderball (Bond)
from https://www.ranker.com/list/best-movies-of-1965/ranker-film

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Puzzling! Could you please add spoilertags to your answer? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Apr 16 '18 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ For a Few Dollars More he could've gotten some snacks too. $\endgroup$ – Hans Z Apr 17 '18 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't have to be that far back. In the late 90s, I was paying $1 for that. As long you didn't mind waiting a little. $\endgroup$ – ikegami Apr 18 '18 at 6:37
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    $\begingroup$ @ikegami you're right, but was trying to not be tied to any specific currency. There are 37 different dollars active in the world and 4 former dollar economies, according to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Criggie Apr 18 '18 at 10:36
38
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Alternate answer:

A top-up card for his mobile/cell-phone.
He entered the scratch-and-see code, got his top-up and chucked the card and receipt in the bin as he made his call/responded to a text message.

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  • 17
    $\begingroup$ For $1? <padding> $\endgroup$ – user1717828 Apr 16 '18 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ In many countries a dollar will get a reasonable amount of mobile usage. $\endgroup$ – arp Apr 17 '18 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ This makes sense. $\endgroup$ – Phil Apr 20 '18 at 20:29
26
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A flower for his SO who promptly broke up with him before he left the store (possibly over the phone).

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  • 44
    $\begingroup$ lol, maybe that was justified if he was only willing to spend $1 :) $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 16 '18 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ Or a political campaign button for a candidate, who has a scandal break as the man is walking out of the store. $\endgroup$ – arp Apr 17 '18 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt that has ever happened. $\endgroup$ – Phil Apr 20 '18 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ Do you buy campaign buttons (or other adware like tee-shirts and bumper stickers)? I thought the campaign gave them out. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Apr 24 '18 at 23:45
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Alternate answer:

He put $1 of fuel for the pump that his car is at. The item the clerk handed him was the receipt.

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +1 Creative answer, but I don't think you can buy a receipt $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 16 '18 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ Also $1 of gas wouldn't get you very far! $\endgroup$ – IanF1 Apr 16 '18 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ @IanF1 Could be returning a rental and just had to get it to half. $\endgroup$ – user1717828 Apr 16 '18 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ @IanF1 \$1 is what I pay to drive ~20 miles. So, when I start my kids in school, \$1 should be enough to cover about a week's worth of trips when it's too cold to walk. $\endgroup$ – phyrfox Apr 17 '18 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @phyrfox You’d drive your lawn mower to the gas station? Haha. I have no clue, the minimum is 2 liters usually, which is less than a gallon. However, a single liter costs about €1.55 (\$1.91) so you’d pay more than $4 here to top off your scooter. Gas prices suck. $\endgroup$ – Rick van Osta Apr 17 '18 at 16:48
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He bought:

some eggs which broke after purchasing and thus dejected, he threw both the eggs and the receipt away...

Checks all the given conditions...

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11
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Well, he could've bought

some kind of a top-up card, topped up whatever he had to and then on his way out, chucked the used up card and the receipt out...

Edit: Errm, looks like someone just said the same thing. Hell, in fact even used similar words. lol

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  • $\begingroup$ Great minds think alike! :) $\endgroup$ – Paul Evans Apr 16 '18 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Haha! I guess so! $\endgroup$ – MxBx Apr 16 '18 at 21:28
10
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Alternate answer:

he bought some paper and made a plane with it, then he threw it in the wind :D

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  • $\begingroup$ I've never seen a stack of paper that costs $1 lol :P $\endgroup$ – North Apr 16 '18 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ @North I have. 12" x 12" scrapbooking pages at Joann are often in that price range. Of course, paper airplanes are typically made from 8.5"x11" in my experience... $\endgroup$ – Arcanist Lupus Apr 17 '18 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @ArcanistLupus standard paper planes are of course made of A4 paper, though $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Apr 18 '18 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2 I knew someone was going to bring that up. Regardless, they're still rectangular. $\endgroup$ – Arcanist Lupus Apr 18 '18 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @North - Here in US (at least locally), you can get a pack (maybe 15 to 25 sheets) of 8.5 x 11 paper for $1 at a dollar store. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Fegan Apr 23 '18 at 16:59
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He bought an envelope/stamp (or other small package) and threw it into the mail dropoff. The receipt could have been separately thrown into a trash bin.

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8
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This might be a bit gross but...

He bought a

condom, used it,

then on the way out he threw it away.

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    $\begingroup$ "He threw the item away because his perception of the item's intrinsic value changed." $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Apr 19 '18 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, it's value would certainly change based on the situation I described. $\endgroup$ – nurdyguy Apr 19 '18 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ He used a condom, in the store, with the cashier(?) then threw it out? $\endgroup$ – Yout Ried Aug 16 '18 at 5:28
6
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I think ...

He bought a parking token. Once he used and drove out, he threw it away. The receipt he got is for the card swipe he made at the store.

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4
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The man bought

a perishable item (e.g. milk, yogurt, etc). After he paid for it and before consuming it, he noticed that the expiration date already passed, so he threw it away.

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    $\begingroup$ Unless he's very short of time the usual reaction would be to go back to the counter and exchange the item for one which hasn't expired. $\endgroup$ – Sean Burton Apr 19 '18 at 13:14
3
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Pretty sure he bought one of those lucky charm clovers you get when you donate a dollar to the store's charity and realized it didn't have a scratch off lottery ticket on the back of it.

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2
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Perhaps the man bought a

packet of crisps but realized they were not vegetarian friendly.

I have done this 2/3 times.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why wouldn't you give it away to someone who would eat it? $\endgroup$ – mbomb007 Apr 20 '18 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @mbomb007 veg[etari]ans are animal friendly $\endgroup$ – sehe Apr 20 '18 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ @sehe The chips are already made and created. It's fine to be animal friendly, but you should also be people friendly and feed someone with the food. If I mistakenly got something without meat, I'm not going to throw it away because I'm not vegetarian. Eat it or give it away. $\endgroup$ – mbomb007 Apr 21 '18 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ In some countries it is rude to give away opened food like that. $\endgroup$ – R.Joshi Apr 23 '18 at 7:26
0
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he bought a

trash bag (a very small trash can could fit). Since there is no info on this man, it seems reasonable that he takes care of refitting the trash on the street.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't think that satisfies the last criterion. $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 18 '18 at 12:30
-2
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Perhaps:

He wanted to check the price of a particular stock in which he had a large investment, so he bought a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, checked the price he was interested in, and then tossed it.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But he threw the item away because of a loss of perceived intrinsic value. Also your answer is the same as this $\endgroup$ – Riley Apr 23 '18 at 13:30

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