Climbing out of the over complicated box

Do you stick to what you were taught or are you the type to forge your own beliefs and knowledge?

Perhaps a strange question but one that is pertinent to what happens in our immediate worlds.


Now, if I were to ask you this interview question how would you answer?

You are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night. You pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

2. An old friend who once saved your life.

3. The perfect man (or) woman you have been dreaming about. Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car. Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that I once received in an email a couple of years ago and used in many interviews. There are many such questions but this one was one of the most telling for many reasons.

You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect dream lover again.

I had a love for killer questions that did what a personality test would do, indicate how someone thought or how they would be when faced with a problem.  This question in reality has no right or wrong answer.

How would you answer it?

Sometimes when we face a problem or a conundrum if you will it is best to step outside of the situation and look from the outside in, see the whole.  Sometimes it is the simplest of solutions that evade us because we over complicate what lies before us.

When we face a problem we see the implications, the negatives, we start stressing about them as a whole.  We do not sit and break them down, separate each one and then bring it together with a solution.

Why is that?

Is it because our minds are too busy processing everything at a speed of knots that we lose or skip over a quick easy solution to our problem?

In the email that question was asked and the candidate, one out of 200, got the job for his answer.  Read it and see what you think.

He simply answered:

“I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams!”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. It often just takes stepping outside of the box we put ourselves in and seeing things as they are, separately.  We all at the best of times over complicate things in our lives, none of us are immune, some have just learnt to step outside and breathe.

When I hit a problem and my mind starts racing I grab a piece of paper and start separating each known problem.  By doing this I separate it into little parts of the whole making it easier to see things for what they are.  Then under each I start coming up with individual solutions.  You will find as you start working on each that the solution starts forming in your mind and then the A-Ha (not the band) moment happens like a bolt of lightening.  The puzzle is put together and a solution avails itself to you like the last jigsaw piece falling into place.

Sometimes all it takes is stepping outside of the box we put ourselves in.

23 thoughts on “Climbing out of the over complicated box

  1. Genius answer! My first thoughts of the dilemma was to take the friend.
    The lady: She wouldn’t dare to let me take her in any case. I’m a young guy in his twenties with an intimidating beard. Forget it (and even if that’s not true, I can convince myself of that and so avoid conscience problems).
    The perfect woman: I already have the woman of my dreams at home. Problem solved! And if I were single -That woman only looks good, but could be horrible on the inside. You can never tell by the outside.

    In general I’d rather take someone I know than a stranger any day. The stranger could look like a dying woman or the perfect woman, but really be someone else. The friend is someone I know on the inside.

    Just imagine picking up the old lady to the hospital and she takes it as an insult, as she was about to go to her aerobic-karate class. And imagine picking up the woman of your dreams only to find out she wants you to take her home to her husband and 5 kids.

    In real life? I’d probably stick out my head and tell my friend “Hey man, what’s up? Need a ride?”. And if he is the kind of guy that saves lives he’d either say “Yes, but take this old dying lady to the hospital first. I can sit here in the meanwhile discussing russian marketing strategies with my co-worker Steve here. Have you met Steve yet? He’s a transvestite”. or he’d say “Yes please take me away from this horrible place. That old lady is using me to practice her karate on, and that young woman keeps flashing me trying to intice me to betray my loving wife”.

    Yeah, I’d take the friend.

  2. ROFLMAO oh my word a transvestite and karate granny’s??? *grips sides in agony* I swear I would hire you on the spot for that answer alone!!! The tears, they be falling!

  3. I would have taken the old lady. The old friend would probably understand that saving lives was more important.. no need for a perfect man.. and if I had been single I could have left him my phone number.

  4. Lindsey Thanks you, glad you enjoyed it – think you would be a fun person to interview, sharp

    Holeycheese clever, I’ve never thought of the phone number sheesh lol *bows*

  5. I am a putter on paper and separator too!!! While I was reading, I thought I’d take the old lady. Perfect man, is there such a thing??? A friend would understand.

  6. I’m so out of it this morning- I should point out that I answered the question BEFORE reading the entire post- which makes it really ironic that my answer was actually the one in the post. 🙂


  7. Giselle most people take the old lady, it always fascinates me!

    Joy yes it is a mystery this perfect man thing but then I overheard one saying the other day that it is “mask” to keep us on our toes phah!

    Lindsey It is what I thought, what I neglected to say earlier because I was rushed was that you are the third person out of hundreds that I have asked that question to who has given that answer. It is why I wish to interview you, it would be a riot!

  8. OK, the answer is great, of course, brilliant. But still, I am not sure what sort of cars do you have in SA, but perhaps they are not all that different than elsewhere, and so there’s room for at least five people. Why not take all three of them? This is what came to my mind and I still do not understand what have I missed here. It is not a motorcycle, is it?

  9. I need more information…

    What size is my car and does it have cloth or leather seats? It is raining…right? Are any of the people obese? They may not fit if I am driving an environmentally friendly vehicle. Perhaps one or more of them are waiting for the buss because the bus is the only thing they could fit in comfortably. 🙂

    Did you miss me?

  10. I think thats because like Joy said.. a friend would understand. A perfect man.. hmm!! Well ,that can be left to imagination(!) He’ll come. He’ll go.
    And it would be the old woman who needs help most.

  11. What a brilliant answer! I never would have thought of that! I was thinking old lady the whole time … because the friend situation – well, they may have saved my life in the past but “pass it forward,” right? And I figure if the man of my dreams is meant to be, then we’ll meet up again … hopefully? Duh … I never would have thought to just give the keys to the friend. Brilliant!

  12. Robert see now that is thinking out of the box with pure logic! tsk, I surprisingly very rarely ever got that answer and I interviewed ENGINEERS the whole time hmm

    Mssc54 you’d be an absolute card to interview lol – out of interest are you a natural born problem solver?

    Giselle lol poor boys great answer!

    Fitch Scary isn’t it, I mean I also hit my head against a wall going DUH! Its all in the way we think and approach problems lol

  13. The man of my dreams would be an italian chef so ideally he should have been in the restaurant rolling out my penne vodkas and had that friend been “My FRIEND”, he would have already taken care of the old lady way before. The fact that he didn’t see that — makes me choose the old lady 🙂

  14. Giselle, I do them every sunday / monday depending on my schedule and time permitting 🙂

    Glaize glad you enjoyed hun, yip kinda simple and yet not, yes?

    Deeps LOL LMAO ROFLMAO dang you are funny, still after an Italian chef that can cook Indian curry???

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