A complaint was received by the Chief of a Car Service Station:
We have a tradition in our family of having Ice-Cream for dessert after dinner every night, each time the flavor varies. After dinner, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. I recently purchased a new car and since then my trips to the store have been a problem.
Every time I buy vanilla ice-cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other flavor, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this. The chief was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an Engineer to check it out anyway. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start. The Engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, they got chocolate, the car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start. Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He continued his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And towards the end he began to take notes: He jotted down all sorts of data: time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc.
In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pick up. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to check out the flavor.
Time was now the problem – not the vanilla ice cream! It was happening every night; but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. The engineer quickly came up with the answer: “vapor lock”. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.
Moral of the story:
Even crazy looking problems are sometimes real and all problems seem to be simple only when we find the solution with cool thinking.