The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry

Posted: 19 November 2014
Updated: 16 December 2017

I’m still funny: what is half of a 7?

Broken Candle number 7

I went to a bakery here. The purchasing process is different than anything I have ever seen. When you enter the bakery, you pick up a tray and some tongs. You walk around selecting what you want with the tongs: you can buy one cookie or nine donuts or three croissants–any product in any quantity. When you are done, you take everything you placed on your tray to the cashier. The cashier quickly calculates the price, you pay, and your tray is passed to someone who wraps and bags your purchases. There are usually four baggers for each cashier, and all of them are standing in a line next to each other behind the counter.

As my purchases were being wrapped and bagged, I was standing next to a display of birthday candles shaped into numbers. Each number, zero to nine, was individually packaged for sale. One candle in the shape of a 7 was broken in half. I turned to the woman wrapping my purchases, I pointed at the broken candle shaped like a 7, and I said with a heavy accent, This is three and a half. (This is three and a half.) She helpfully replied, slowly and clearly, Seven. (Seven.) The other two baggers were now watching. I looked at all of them and I said, Do Not, then I used my hands to signal something cut in half, and I said, Three and a half! (Three and a half!)

The three ladies were still giggling when I walked away with my purchases.