The Median Turkey
The Median Turkey
This is the first year that the Lakes Region Professional Porch Sitters Chapter 603 is hosting the NH Professional Porch Sitters Thanksgiving Day celebration. It was up to Travis D. Coletrain, Dirk Davenport, and me to do the shopping for this gala event that would bring Porch Sitters from near and far. To avoid conflicts with the traditional Thanksgiving, which might actual cause dismemberment, we hold this gathering on the Sunday after so that we can still be able to watch football while chowing down. The appointment of Travis and Dirk to the shopping committee was made for their obvious love of food and ability to spot bargains. I was there to keep them from going too overboard. Also, along for the ride was wanna-be porch sitter named Little Joe.
We head on into Hannaford and in search of stuffing, potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, and of course some turkeys. Now, we are expecting a throng of porch sitters, so we figured we’d need a flock of frozen Butterballs. That’s the tricky part of this event as we are going to be cooking turkeys in at least a half dozen locations and then bring them down to the Grange Hall at the appropriate time. Seems like it would have been easier to have Hart’s deliver!
Anyway, as Travis approaches the turkey freezer, he let out this yelp of delight and excitement that made half the people in the store look at him. He gasped, “Look at that! That is the biggest Butterball I have ever seen in my life!” And it was. It dwarfed the other turkeys that were left by two to one. The price tag said it was 40.14 pounds!
“I gotta have it!” exclaimed Travis.
“How you gonna get that in and out of the oven?” I asked.
“I might have to use a hoist to pick it up and deep fry it in the backyard, but I’m gonna do it!” he replied. No sense in arguing. The bird was his to prepare. We loaded it into a shopping cart and put the remaining six other smaller birds left in the freezer in another cart. A third and fourth cart had all the other fixings. We checked out and took it all over to Dirk’s house which was the designated central distribution spot for the other members to come and pick up a turkey and other dishes to prepare. We are a well-oiled machine.
We are sitting at Dirk’s house, sipping on some Porch Crawler beverages, waiting for the other members to come pick up their share of the food and Little Joes says, “You know, I was reading last weeks real estate market report and I don’t understand something.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I was looking at homes that sold in Meredith in October and it says the average sales price of a home was $461,147 and the median price was $389,000,” he replied. “In Moultonborough the average sales price was $821,423 and the median price was $405,00. I know what an average is, but what the heck is the median price. I don’t get it.”
“Well, you aren’t alone. A lot of people can’t grasp the concept of the median price.” I said, “Let’s make it simple and talk turkey. You see those seven turkeys on the counter? Go over there and line them up by weight from the lightest to the heaviest which is obviously Travis’ turkey from another planet. Write down how much each one weighs. Round the ounces up or down as appropriate…I wanna keep this lesson simple.”
Little Joe goes over and arranges the turkey by size and comes back with the weights scrawled on the back of a napkin. He reads it off, “We got an 8 lb, a 10 lb, a 12 lb, two 16 lb ones, an 18 lb one, and the 40 lb one.”
“Ok, so what’s the average weight of the turkeys?” I asked.
Little Joe grabs a pen out of Dirk’s pocket and starts scratching on the napkin. “That’s easy.” he answers proudly like he just passed an exam. “The average weight of the turkeys is 17.14 lbs!”
“Ok,” I replied, “The median turkey weight is the turkey in the middle where there are an equal number of turkeys on each side that either weigh less or that weigh more. Go over in tell me which turkey is in the middle.”
“That would be a 16 lb one. That’s the median?” he asked.
“Yup, you got it! Now go over and removed Travis’ mega turkey and give me the average weight of the six remaining ones,” I instructed.
Little Joe goes over, moves the big turkey, recalculates his average and says, “The average of the remaining turkeys is now 13.3 lbs! The average dropped by around 4 lbs.”
“So, what’s the median weight?” I asked. “What’ the weight of the turkey in the middle now?”
Little Joe just stared blankly at the turkeys and finally says, “There isn’t any one turkey in the middle now…there are two middle ones! A 12 lb one and a 16 lb one.”
“In this case it’s the invisible one in the middle. You go exactly halfway between weight of those two turkeys and pretend there is another one there. What would it weigh?” I asked.
“That would be 14 lbs,” he replied as the light bulb in his head went off. “The median weight didn’t change as much as the average.”
“You just mastered the meaning of the median.” Travis piped in, “Now, can you imagine how two or three million-dollar waterfront sales in a month distorts the average sales price in a town in the Lakes Region. While the average sales price can be dramatically affected by some large sales, the median sales price is more constant and reflective of the actual marketplace.”
“Hey, that’s a lot easier to understand when you explain it in turkeys.” Little Joe exclaims.
“Gobble, gobble. Happy Thanksgiving!”