Smith attended the meeting on Tuesday. There, he himself and his brain both died a slow and painful death, brought onto them by the other attendees, with Smith’s manager Lehare as leading murderer.
“Gentlemen,” said mrs. Redroot, “Our organization is facing a major challenge. We’re dealing with a project, for which we must depict several red lines. Are you willing to take on this assignment?”
“Of course”, Lehare said. As the company’s CEO he was always willing to take on problems that would be solved by someone else of the team. However, he instantly clarified: “We can do that, can’t we?”
The manager of the drawing department, Greyskin, quickly nodded: “Yes, definitely. This is Smith, our best specialist on the drawing of red lines. We’ve invited him to this meeting for exactly this reason, to hear his competent opinion on the subject.”
“Nice to meet you,” mrs. Redroot threw him a smile. “Well, you all know me. And this is Lily, our company’s specialist in the area of design.” Lily blushed and smiled self-consciously. She just obtained her economics degree and knew about as much of design as a platypus knows of the design of airships.
“In short,” Mrs. Redroot continued, “we must draw seven straight red lines. They must all be strictly perpendicular. Furthermore, some of them must be green and some transparent. What do you think, would that be realistic?”
“No,” Smith answered instantly.
“Now wait a minute, Smith, let’s not rush things,” Greyskin tried to slow him down. “We are presented with a challenge and this challenge must be resolved. You’re a professional, right Smith? Please, don’t give us any reason to doubt your professionalism.”
“You see,” Smith explained, “the term ‘red line’
implicates that the color of the line is red. Drawing a red line with a green color is.. well not exactly impossible, but very nearly impossible…”
“Smith, now what do you mean by impossible?”
“I’m just describing the situation. It’s possible that for colorblind people, the color of the line will not make any difference. However, I strongly doubt the whole audience of your project will consist of such people.”
“So, if I understood you correctly, basically it is possible, right Smith?” Mrs. Redroot asked him.
Smith realized that he had spoken too figurative. “Let’s make this simple,” he said. “A line as such can be drawn in any color whatsoever. But in order for the line to be red, it must be drawn in the color red.”
“Smith, please don’t confuse us. You just said it was possible.”
Smith silently cursed his own talkativeness. “No, sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. I just tried to explain that in some situations, the color of the line will not matter. However, the line still won’t be red. Do you understand? It won’t be red. It will be green. And you need a red one.”
In the short silence that followed, the room was filled with a quiet but intense buzz of synapses.
“But what if…” Lehare said, stricken by a new idea, “what if we draw them in blue?”
Smith shook his head: “that still won’t do. If you will draw them in blue, you will get blue lines.”
Another silence, this time interrupted by Smith himself.
“Also, I didn’t understand… what did you mean when you were talking about transparent lines?”
Mrs. Redroot looked at him indulgently, as if she was a good teacher and he a slow student.
“Hmm, now how can I explain this?