589: Designated Drivers
Title text: Calling a cab means cutting into beer money.
When a group of people go together to any kind of event where they expect to drink alcohol, and would like to drive to and from the event, it is usual to select one who has to be the designated driver. This person will then stay sober during the event, and can thus safely drive the other people home afterwards disregarding how drunk the other people becomes.
However, as this comic points out, if it not a simple task of going from A to B and back, all together at the same time, then it becomes an complex problem that requires an intricate kind of strategy and logical thinking to solve. And may need more than one driver.
In this comic Cueball addresses his friends, regarding this problem right before they enter a bar. It seems they have already decided that one of the friends will be the designated driver. But then Cueball mentions that they will have to leave in two groups. And for some reason one of these groups will need at least two drivers (this is hard to explain - see below under number of drivers.) So now they already need three designated drivers. Furthermore, someone has to go and pick up another friend. And also two of them have to leave earlier than the rest by 10:00.
In the third panel the situation seems to be illustrated. Three people are drawn outside the bar with three lines going to the bar, so the number of lines leaving and entering each destination seems to represent a person each. Since the number of people leaving and entering each destination is the same, this makes it seem like the diagram is intended to be accurate. There are four people entering and exiting the bar and six people entering and exiting both the party and the dinner. The confusing part of the diagram is that there are only three people at the bar to begin with, not the four shown in the first panel. It also seems strange that someone will go back to the bar and especially that another goes back to the dinner from the party. It is thus not easy to make the diagram fit the description. See below for a possible take on the chart.
But the general concept would be that some people meet at a bar before joining the rest of a group at dinner, then later most of these move on to a party. After the party (or bar/dinner) people are going to head home in different groups.
The enormous complexities of planning who car pools with whom, from where to where, and when, make an excellent logic puzzle. And what is worse, anyone who has to drive needs to stay sober. So it is important to solve the puzzle before the drinking starts, or else there will be too few that can drive, or too many who never get to drink.
To make matters worse one of the friends complicates this already complicated logical puzzle, by involving the classic logic puzzle of the wolf, goat and cabbage. In the last panel the guy is shown standing with a goat on a tether, saying he can't be in the car with the wolf. Cueball is then brought to swearing over this. (The goat puzzle was also the subject of 1134: Logic Boat). And this may go some way of explaining why there needs to be a number of drivers.
The title text makes it clear why ordering a taxi is out of the question as it would take money out of the beer budget. Of course it also cost money to use your own car for gas etc. But when you already have a car, it is always cheaper to use that than pay for a taxi.
 The chart
Since the first panel must take place before any drinking takes place, to make the title of the comic make sense, then there is already missing one from the bar, since we know that there are four at the bar at the start of the comic. To make the diagram fit the fourth person should then be the one coming from the party. But he would thus come from there before anyone else arrived at the party. And then someone will have to leave directly from the bar without going to the dinner or party, since no one will come back later. And since Julia and Emily leave together, this cannot be either of them. That would also mean that only five leave the party since one of the leaving arrows was the fourth to get to the bar early. And there are six arriving, all of which must be assumed to arrive later yet. And since no one enters the party from outside, someone must have been at the party site from the start and would stay there afterwards.
All this will at first make very little sense, so in the end it does not seems likely that the diagram in any way can represent the situation precisely. Except if the party is thrown by one of the guys, and he starts and finishes there. Here below is a possible explanation that would explain all the information and the chart. It this was at all intended to be possible by Randall is not certain but it fits:
- The three people outside the bar are the one represented on the diagram.
- Two Cueball-like guys of which the last one is Tom, the designated driver, and Megan represents one of the girls mentioned later Emily or Julia.
- They arrive together to the bar.
- Here they meet Cueball.
- It is Cueball who throws the party. So the party is at his place, and he has arrived at the bar from there.
- There is thus no arrow entering the party for him to begin with, as he lives there.
- There are now four at the bar.
- Later Cueball will take a route past his house (the party place) before going to the dinner.
- Two of the other three in the bar will go straight to the place of the dinner.
- The last in the bar is the one who has to go after Paul. He thus leaves the chart.
- The guy who picked up Paul will return together with him to the dinner as the two arrows coming in from the top.
- The second girl (apart from Megan) is the last long arrow coming in alone from the right.
- Now all six people are at the dinner.
- After the dinner one of these six people (a guy) will leave alone
- The other five including Cueball will continue to the party at his house.
- There are thus five at the party but only four of these leaves afterwards in two groups of two.
- Two of these are the girls that leaves already at 10:00 leaving only three guys in the house.
- When the two last leave Cueball will stay at home, thus explaining why only four leaves.
 Number of drivers
The chart offers no solution to the puzzle of why a single group would need more than one driver. As neither of the groups leaving the party is more than two people it would be hard to get more than two drivers. And hard to explain why there would be need for more than one.
The only time more than two lines are following each other from one place is the three that arrive together at the bar and the five that move from dinner to party. And even five people can normally fit in one car.
Of course when we begin to take into account that one of them has a goat and one of the others have a wolf, then there are suddenly eight living beings that needs transport. And this may explain the need for two cars. But still not the more than one driver for a single car.
- [Cueball is addressing three people outside a bar (two Cueball-like guys and Megan).]
- Cueball: Wait, who's driving?
- First Cueball-like guy: Why?
- First Cueball-like guy: Tom, right?
- [Zoom in on Cueball.]
- Cueball: Yes, but we have to leave in two groups. One of which will need at least two drivers.
- [There is text both above and below a flowchart with arrows between a group of the three people Cueball is talking to, and three houses that are labeled 'bar', 'dinner', and 'party'. Three lines point from the group of people to the bar and a fourth arrives from the party. Four lines points away from the bar. Two goes to the dinner one to the party and one away to the left. There are six arrows arriving at the dinner. Apart from the two lines coming from the bar, there is one long arrow pointing to the dinner from the left and two coming in from above. One more comes from the party below. Six arrows points away. One arrow goes away to the top right, the other five arrows points straight down to the party. There are also six arrows coming and leaving the party. Apart from the five from the dinner there was the one coming in from the bar. The six arrows leaving are the one arrow that went to the bar and the one to the dinner. The other four leaves in two groups of two, on straight down and two curving to the left.]
- Cueball (off-panel): Someone has to get Paul, and Julia and Emily have to leave by 10:00.
- Labels: Bar
- Labels: Dinner
- Labels: Party
- Cueball (off-panel): The logistics of who can get drunk are nontrivial.
- [The second Cueball-like guy to the right has an goat on a string behind him, which was not visible in the first panel, as he was at that time only partly inside the frame.]
- Second Cueball-like guy: Yeah, and I can't ride in a car with the wolf because he'll eat my goat.
- Cueball: Dammit, guys.
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