Thursday, December 02, 2004

An interesting question... 

A father and his son were driving to a ball game when their car stalled on the railroad tracks. In the distance a train whistle blew a warning. Frantically, the father tried to start the engine, but in his panic, he couldn't turn the key, and the car was hit by the onrushing train. An ambulance sped to the scene and picked them up. On the way to the hospital, the father died. The son was still alive but his condition was very serious, and he needed immediate surgery. The moment they arrived at the hospital, he was wheeled into an emergency operating room, and the surgeon came in, expecting a routine case. However, on seeing the boy, the surgeon blanched and muttered, "I can't operate on this boy - he's my son."

What relation was the surgeon to the boy?

If you know the answer, any thoughts about it? Did you get it right away? I didn't when I first heard it ten years ago.

UPDATE: So the surgeon is his mother. I think the riddle works in two ways. Firstly, as Contagion pointed out, the older generation would never think of the possibility that a woman could be a surgeon. Secondly, the younger generation are so used to non-traditional family units, with adopted, and step children, that we automatically assume something other than the "norm", as a way of accounting for it.

I told this to The Munchkins the first time they gatecrashed my home. They didn't get the question. Hell, they didn't get the answer! I think I lost them on the word, "surgeon".

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