After visiting a friend in the hospital, the salesman decided to stop by a fast-food drive-through for lunch. He ordered the #1 combo (hamburger, fries, and a coke) for $4.29... no biggie size.
When confirming my order, the clerk said, "Your total is $4.83, please drive forward."
"$4.83?" the salesman thought, "for a $4.29 meal? That's 54 cents tax! That can't be right."
The salesman's mind quickly began to calculate... tax is 8 cents on
the dollar, and with $4.29 that would be 35 cents max. The salesman had
heard about workers overcharging drive through customers and skimming
the money for themselves, so he was beginning to get suspicious.
The salesman then got a pen and paper and did the long division
(since there were 2 cars ahead of him). 483 divided by 429... He had
been charged over 12 percent tax! When he got to the window he handed
the clerk a 5 and asked, "Do you know what the sales tax is here?"
The clerk didn't know. The salesman said, "$4.83 for a $4.29 meal is
12 percent tax. That can't be right--can I talk to the manager?" The
clerk gave the salesman his change and called the manager.
When the manager came over, the salesman asked, "What is the sales tax?"
The manager replied, "It was 8 percent."
"I just paid $4.83 for a $4.29 meal--that's over 12 percent sales tax" the salesman exclaimed.
The manager got a funny look on her face and said that maybe the
computer had rung it up wrong or had charged the salesman for the biggie
size (even though the biggie upgrade was 35 cents--which would put the
total over $5).
The manager quickly checked the figures, and when coming to the same
conclusion as the salesman, she opened the drawer and gave him his
"Good job!" the salesman thought to himself. "All my wonderful
education has heightened my mental mathematical adeptness so that I can
do percentages in my head, and my superior intellect has foiled a feeble
attempt by a drive-through worker to overcharge me."
The salesman took the twenty cents the manager handed him and, proud
of his staggering genius, smugly drove off... without his food.
Moral of the story. True sales professionals know that in order to
be successful at sales they need to be exacting at mathematics, but to
be successful at any single transaction you must never let an obsession
with numbers cloud your judgment or diminish your ability to execute.
"Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics." - E.T. Bell