Ten Dimes and a Paradox

Ten Dimes: In 1979 I was a frequent flyer at a coin laundry on West End Avenue near Vanderbilt University. I lived in the neighborhood. There was a woman working there who wore an apron-like pouch strapped around her waist. She made change so customers could have quarters for the washing machines and dimes for the dryers. The washers were lined up in the center of the room, and dryers were along the west wall. Customers sat in folding chairs along the front window and east wall. The place was like a library for Vanderbilt students. They quietly read their textbooks while waiting. 

I needed change for the dryer one evening and gave the coin lady a dollar for ten dimes. I put all of the dimes in my left pocket. All ten went through a hole in my pocket and rolled out in ten directions when they hit the tile floor. Customers in the “student section” looked up from their books to watch my performance as I searched and recovered ten dimes. 

I found all ten with no help from unsympathetic students. Not one student helped me, even after my encore performance when I put the ten dimes back into the same pocket with the same outcome! What snobs! The worst part was having to hang around because my clothes needed drying and the dryer needed dimes.

Paradox: I called my wife at work recently to suggest meeting at a restaurant near my office after work. She is accustomed to arriving at restaurants before me, at the time we agreed on. She expects me to be a few minutes late. On this occasion, I was on time. I scoped out the place, expecting to see her at a table, but she wasn’t there. I was proud that I had beaten her this time.

The hostess asked, “How many?”

Distracted, I replied, “I beat my wife!” She looked shocked.

“Oh no,” I said, “I didn’t mean that I beat my wife…I beat her here…no, I have never beaten her, here or anywhere…I don’t beat my wife…she usually beats me…no, I don’t mean…what I mean is…she is normally on time and I’m not!”

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