This was recently posted to the groaners listserv by Dar. It is a worthy old tale.
A Cajun man wants a job, but the foreman won’t hire him until he passes a little math test. “Here’s your first question,” the foreman said. “Without using numbers, represent the number 9.”
“Without numbers?” the Cajun says, “Dat is easy.” and proceeds to draw three trees.
“What’s this?” the boss asks.
“‘Ave you got no brain? Tree and tree and tree make nine,” says the Cajun.
“Fair enough,” says the boss. “Here’s your second question. Use the same rules, but this time the number is 99.”
The Cajun stares into space for a while, then picks up the picture that he has just drawn and makes a smudge on each tree. “‘Ere you go.”
The boss scratches his head and says, “How on earth do you get that to represent 99?”
“Each of da trees is dirty now. So, it’s dirty tree, and dirty tree, and dirty tree. Dat is 99.”
The boss is getting worried that he’s going to actually have to hire this Cajun, so he says, “all right, last question. Same rules again, but represent the number 100.”
The Cajun stares into space some more, then he picks up the picture again and makes a little mark at the base of each tree and says, “‘Ere you go. One hundred.”
The boss looks at the attempt. “You must be nuts if you think that represents a hundred!”
The Cajun leans forward and points to the marks at the base of each tree and says, “A little dog came along and crap by each tree. So now you got dirty tree and a turd, dirty tree and a turd, and dirty tree and a turd, which makes one hundred…
“So, when I start?”