Saturday, November 27, 2010

If Lego is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right

Every now and then an event occurs that shakes your faith in something you previously believed to be unquestionable. You find out the truth about Santa or the Easter Bunny. The x-ray glasses finally come in the mail. Your son beats you at Blades of Steel.

It’s like a punch in the gut. You become disillusioned and everything you once counted on has a shadow of doubt cast upon it. You begin to question who you are. I received one such philosophical slap in the face recently.

My household operates under a few absolute principles. You must support your family. Education is important. Hard work will lead to rewards. Do the right thing even though it is rarely the easy thing. You will find the Lego piece you are looking for if you just keep looking.

This is how it has always been. Every Lego set I have assembled since I was a kid has left me looking for a piece at some point. Yet every time I started to convince myself that the piece was missing from the set, through some error on the part of the packaging facility, there it was. It always turned up. I’ve preached this mantra to my sons as they become more immersed in the world of Lego. Don’t get frustrated, it’s in there, you just aren’t seeing it. It’s been a valuable lesson in patience and keeping one’s cool under pressure.

My wife picked up a sizable Lego set with my boys the other day. They had done well on their report cards and were going to be off all week for the holiday, so she thought she’d pick up a set we could all contribute to over a few days. The Shuttle Adventure set (model #10213 in your at home catalog for those who wish to follow along) slowly took shape over the course of the week on our dining room table.

Three days into the 1,204 piece project, with the minifigures being built first by my sons (one male and one female astronaut I might add…well done, Lego), we ran into a hurdle. There were white pieces aplenty and a flat one by eight was giving me an awful time about being found. I was able to locate a number of one by six pieces, but not a single one by eight.

“No need to worry,” I told myself, “it’ll turn up. It always turns up.”

In the meantime, I retrieved a piece matching the size we needed from the extensive brick surplus that my childhood obsession with Lego has afforded us. I didn’t want to hold up the build and figured that when we completed the set, the one by eight would be staring at me and I would replace the spare piece we used with its exact duplicate.

By the time we finished, I had nearly forgotten all about this. I handed the nearly empty bucket containing only the few extra pieces that the Lego Company leaves in with any set (usually the smallest of the pieces) to my son so he could toss them in with our extras in the basement as per out normal protocol. Only casually did I glance into the bottom on the bin and notice a thin white piece larger than the average spare.

“Ah, there’s the missing one by eight,” I said as I picked it up and turned it over in my fingers, my insecurities consoled as usual by Lego.

But my keen observational skills, even set on casual, couldn’t help but notice the long, thin, white piece in my hand, while thin and white, was not quite as long as it ought to be. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was holding a one by six piece, not the one by eight I expected.

Could it be? Had Lego failed me? Had a brick actually been mistakenly replaced by another? As much as I tried to blame myself, I couldn’t deny the box had been packed incorrectly. Regardless of how slight the difference between the bricks in question, a mistake was made.

I now fear the worst. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself for Armageddon. Nothing is certain from this day forward. Hug your children and tell them you love them. Venture outside if you dare, but beware of flying pigs and the freezing over of Hell. All that exists may begin crumbling around us at any moment. If Lego can make a mistake with their packaging, I’m afraid nothing may be as it seems. Have you seen Inception?

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