# Pun of the Weak: Representing Numbers Without Numbers

Little Johnny somehow finished his education and is now attending a job interview. The interviewer did a background check on Johnny and he concluded that he wouldn’t want to hire him. So, he devised a test which he’s sure that Johnny would fail.

“Before we can hire you, you have to pass my test,” the interviewer remarked.

“Oh, I like questions!” Johnny said.

“Good. Here’s the test. Please represent the number 9 without using numbers. So, even writing NINE or showing 9 objects to me is not allowed.”

“Ha! That’s easy!”

Johnny then drew three trees.

“What’s that?” the interviewer asked with a confused expression.

“Don’t you get it?” Johnny said, “Tree, tree, and tree make nine.”

“Fair enough,” the interviewer said. “Here’s your next question. Please represent 99. The same rules apply.”

Johnny smudged each of the trees he drew and showed it to the interviewer.

“How in the world did it represent 99?” the interviewer said.

“The trees are now dirty. So, dirty tree, dirty tree, and dirty tree make 99.”

The interviewer is worried that he may have to actually hire him. So, he now avoids any number that can be represented by “trees”. After some thinking, the interviewer finally asked, “Using the same rules, represent 100.”

Johnny drew a small blob beneath each tree and said, “Now, this is 100!”

The interviewer looked at it and said, “This is getting ridiculous! You must be nuts if you think this represents 100.”

Johnny pointed at the blobs at the bottom of each tree and said, “A dog passed by and pooped at each tree. Now we got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd. That makes 100! When do I start?”

Source: Adapted from a joke published in John Robert Colombo, The Penguin Book of More Canadian Jokes, 2003.

### Posted by Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

## 12 thoughts on “Pun of the Weak: Representing Numbers Without Numbers”

1. This little fellow was actually very smart, and creative too, so he could be on my team! Cute!!!

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2. Brings to mind “Funes the Memorious” from Borges’ short story collection Ficciones. To pass the time Funes constructs a system of enumeration were every number has a unique, arbitrary name.

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3. Lovely post… really brings out the best as a writer! 😬
Shine on!

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4. Reblogged this on 3bones and commented:
This so deserves a reblog! I have been following Edmark’s blog for some time now, and he always makes me laugh with his Pun of the Weak, or just teasing my mind and those of his many his readers with one of his puzzles. And ya just gotta love us Canadians, eh? This particular Johnny Canuck was extremely astute!

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