A truck driver was driving cargo from the outback to the coast. His load was comprised of many types of ore. He needed a huge truck to carry its bulk to a ship waiting at a pier on the country’s eastern coast. At the border between two counties, he’d have to pay a tariff on the cargo. However, he could keep his money if he avoided the station at the border. He worried about getting in trouble for not paying the tariff, but the thought of extra money outweighed this concern.
He took out his road map. To his surprise, it depicted a small road that had a dual advantage. It not only avoided the border station but also was a shorter route to the coast. He decided to take the shortcut.
However, along his journey, he soon ran into problems. First, he had to cross a small wooden bridge. His truck weighed too much for the bridge. It was analogous to an elephant trying to stand on a tree branch. The bridge started to break as the truck crossed, and the trailer tilted to the right. Fortunately, the truck made it safely across, but most of the ore fell into the river below.
Next, it was a very hot day. The thermometer read over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The truck’s engine became too hot, so the driver parked it in the shade of a grove of trees until it cooled down.
Later, he took a wrong turn. He stopped and took out his binoculars. He scanned his surroundings and eventually discovered a landmark that led him back to the proper route.
Finally, he arrived at the pier, but the ship wasn’t there. When he asked about the ship’s whereabouts, a man said that it had left thirty minutes ago. He had not fulfilled his duty. He realized then the paradox of the shortcut. The shortest route can be the longest, and vice versa, a long route may be the fastest.