Feynman! Did you take the doors?

My masterpiece of mischief happened at the fraternity. One morning I woke up very early, about five o'clock, and couldn't go back to sleep, so I went downstairs from the sleeping rooms and discovered some signs hanging on strings which said things like "DOOR! DOOR! WHO STOLE THE DOOR?" I saw that someone had taken a door off its hinges, and in its place they hung a sign that said, "PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR!" - the sign that used to be on the door that was missing.

I immediately figured out what the idea was. In that room a guy named Pete Bernays and a couple of other guys liked to work very hard, and always wanted it quiet. If you wandered into their room looking for something, or to ask them how they did problem such and such, when you would leave you would always hear these guys scream, "Please close the door!"

Somebody had gotten tired of this, no doubt, and had taken the door off. Now this room, it so happened, had two doors, the way it was built, so I got an idea: I took the other door off its hinges, carried it downstairs, and hid it in the basement behind the oil tank. Then I quietly went back upstairs and went to bed.

Later in the morning I made believe I woke up and came downstairs a little late. The other guys were milling around, and Pete and his friends were all upset: The doors to their rooms were missing, and they had to study, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was coming down the stairs and they said, "Feynman! Did you take the doors?"

"Oh, yeah!", I said. "I took the door. You can see the scratches on my knuckles here, that I got when my hands scraped against the wall as I was carrying it down into the basement."

They weren't satisfied with my answer; in fact, they didn't believe me.

The guys who took the first door had left so many clues - the handwriting on the signs, for instance, that they were soon found out. My idea was that when it was found out who stole the first door, everybody would think they also stole the other door. It worked perfectly: The guys who took the first door were pummeled and tortured and worked on by everybody, until finally, with much pain and difficulty, they convinced their tormentors that they had only taken one door, unbelievable as it might be.

I listened to all this, and I was happy.

The other door stayed missing for a whole week, and it became more and more important to the guys who were trying to study in that room that the other door be found.

Finally, in order to solve the problem, the president of the fraternity says at the dinner table, "We have to solve this problem of the other door. I haven't been able to solve the problem myself, so I would like suggestions from the rest of us as to how to straighten this out, because Pete and the others are trying to study."

Somebody makes a suggestion, then someone else.

After a little while, I get up and make a suggestion. "All right," I say in a sarcastic voice, "whoever you are who stole the door, we know you're wonderful. You're so clever! We can't figure out who you are, so you must be some sort of super-genius. You don't have to tell us who you are; all we want to know is where the door is. So if you will leave a note somewhere, telling us where the door is, we wil honor you and admit forever that you are a super-marvel, that you are so smart that you could take the other door without our being able to figure out who you are. But for God's sake, just leave the note somewhere, and we will be forever grateful to you for it."

The next guy makes his suggestion: "I have another idea," he says. "I think that you, as president, should ask each man on his word of honor towards the fraternity to say whether he took the door or not."

The president says, "That's a very good idea. On the fraternity word of honor!" So he goes around the table and asks each guy, one by one: "Jack, did you take the door?"

"No, sir, I did not take the door."

"Tim: Did you take the door?"

"No, sir! I did not take the door!"

"Maurice. Did you take the door?"

"No, I did not take the door, sir."

"Feynman, did you take the door?"

"Yeah, I took the door."

"Cut it out, Feynman; this is serious! Sam! Did you take the door ..." - it went all the way around. Everyone was shocked. There must be some real rat in the fraternity who didn't respect the fraternity word of honor!

That night I left a note with a little picture of the oil tank and the door next to it, and the next day they found the door and put it back.

Sometime later I finally admitted to taking the other door, and I was accused by everybody of lying. They couldn't remembe what I had said. All they could remember was their conclusion after the president of the fraternity had gone around the table and asked eveybody, that nobody admitted taking the door. The idea they remember, but not the words.

People often think I'm a faker, but I'm usualy honest, in a certain way - in such a way that often nobody believes me!