The encyclopaedia salesman wasn't having much luck. No one in central New
South Wales seemed all that interested in the 24-volume Britannica with year
books and the little 'assemble-it-yourself' bookstand. Not when it cost a
couple of thousand bucks.
One Friday night saw him sitting sadly in a country pub, nursing a beer. He
realised he was down to his last $50. That was that. After spending that,
be flat broke. Then, glancing around at the other blokes in the bar, who
looked inbred and stupid, inspiration struck.
"My set of encyclopaedias is worth a couple of grand retail," he said. "But
if any of you blokes can answer three questions that I select from the
information therein, I'll give the whole bloody set to you for a hundred
bucks. And if you can't answer all three questions, it's a hundred bucks to
me. What do you reckon?"
There was movement amongst the gathering and a few mumbled exchanges.
Finally a big, slow-moving bloke moved toward the salesman. "I'll have a
go," he said. There were any number of approving 'Goodonyas.' And he
slapped a $100 bill down on the bar.
This will be money for jam, thought the salesman. "First question: What is
the capital of Liberia?"
The farmer put a finger in his ear, studied the ceiling, frowned for a few
moments and, finally, said, "Monrovia". The salesman winced. Reassuring
himself it was a lucky shot - perhaps the bloke had been watching Sale of
the Century - he asked the second question. "Who was Malaysia's third Prime
The young farmer frowned, looked at the barmaid, looked at his mates and,
finally said, "Jeez, I think it was Tun Hussein Onn." The salesman was
astonished and leafed desperately through the pages of his encyclopaedia.
"All right, here's question three. How many people attended the closing
ceremony of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and what were their names
The farmer hitched up his trousers, drank a beer, took a deep breath and
said, "Sixty-eight thousand, nine hundred and twenty-two, not including the
sheila who had to leave early to have a baby." Whereupon he began to recite
list of names and addresses.
It took him nearly four days. By then the salesman was devastated.
"How the hell do you know all this stuff?"
"Well," said the farmer, "I take smart pills."
The salesman realised that these must be miraculous preparations. He'd be
better off flogging them than encyclopaedias.
"Where can I get some of these smart pills?" he asked.
The farmer scratched his crotch and said, "Me dad makes them, but he reckons
I'm not allowed to tell anyone the recipe. The ingredients are a family
"But he didn't say you couldn't sell them, did he?" asked the salesman.
The farmer thought for a moment and finally said, "I suppose it would be
okay if I charged you $50 and you swallowed a couple here and now."
The salesman eagerly handed over his last $50 bill and watched as the farmer
produced a matchbox from his back pocket. "Take them all now with a middy of
beer," he instructed.
The salesman looked apprehensively at the pills but then, one by one,
swallowed them. A look of disgust appeared on his face. "Christ, these pills
taste like sheep shit."
"See," said the farmer. "You are getting smarter already."