The Man Leaves home puzzle.. Are you limiting your thoughts?

Hello Readers,

Many of you have came across the “The Man leaves home..” riddle by Lynn Mckee a few days back. Being a reader of her blog, I decided to participate in the challenge.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen the challenge and haven’t tried it, I would suggest you to have a crack at it before reading further!

So, back to the puzzle. Lynn’s question was “A man left home, took 3 left turns and when returned; a man in uniform was waiting for him. What was he doing?”

The first thing that came to my mind was some questions. So I decided to Email Lynn with those. The questions were:

  1. By referring what “he” is doing, which person are you referring to? The man who left home (say the house owner) or the man in uniform (say, a policeman)?
  2. Man in uniform – what kind of uniform is it? (It can be police man, Dr, anyone who wear a uniform, if it’s in India, it can be a student also!)
  3. When did the house owner return? Did he just got out of the house and took 3 left turns and returned home, say in 10 mins?

Lynn replied that the question is regarding the man who left home. Regarding the uniform, she cannot answer, since it might solve the puzzle and about the time taken, she said my estimate is reasonable.

Aha! Thinking process πŸ™‚ I took a pen and paper and marked a point on it. Then draw straight lines thinking about the path of the first person (the house owner) and noticed that it completes a square. So I thought it’s something like a cross road and the person left the home in his car or by walking. And I came up with two possible answers (let’s say scenarios) and another question. The scenarios were:

  1. The house owner might be waiting for a traffic signal from the man in uniform OR
  2. I guess the second one is a policeman and he is asking the owner of the house β€œHello sir, are you ok? Why are you walking in circles?” πŸ˜›

And the question asked was “Was the man in uniform waiting specifically for the house owner? Or he was doing some routine job?”

Lynn replied in the negative for both the answers and answered my question that the second person was waiting specifically for the first person and the second one is doing a routine job..

Hmm.. this is getting interesting.. Imagination at work… aah, got the answers!!

  1. The man who left the house is not the house owner – he is a thief! the man in uniform is waiting to catch him!
  2. The man who left the house is participating in a race (the house is the starting/finishing point) – the man in uniform is waiting to announce the results of the race.

Lynn’s replies – the man who left home is not a thief, but the man in uniform is waiting to catch him. And it is not a race, but I’m getting closer πŸ™‚ She gave me a clue – think outside the box on “Home”.

Hmmm.. Imagination again at work.. Our organization have a tester’s forum. I decided to throw this question in the forum. And got some opinions as well. The traffic signal, running etc were suggested by my colleagues as well. By this time, I found another scenario:

  • The man is doing shopping inside a mall – and the man in uniform is waiting to collect the money. (pretty reasonable, isn’t it :))

Here comes the twist – one of my colleagues comes up with the answer – the men are playing baseball! And the first person is completing a home run!! Oh!! that’s cool – right ‘out of the box’ πŸ™‚ I submit both the answers in separate mails, and Lynn says baseball is correct!! Well done my team πŸ™‚

Here comes the anti-climax: My Colleague says he has faced a similar question some time back – so he cannot take the credit πŸ˜€

Anyway, we cracked it and I’m happy that we did! End of story, right? No it’s not – read on!

Why didn’t I crack the riddle? That might be because of my “Unconscious Limitation to Testing“.

As a person from India, I may not have thought about baseball – I’m not an expert in that game, I usually don’t watch it either. So I might not have thought about it even in my dreams πŸ™‚

I could have cracked it – if I draw the lines in a diagonal way (so that it looked like a diamond, rather than a square). That might have stimulated some thoughts about what happens when a man runs in that direction. πŸ™‚

I could have asked for the location/country where this whole exercise happens πŸ™‚

What do you think? Are you putting limitations to your testing?