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Missing pieces

Michael Matola
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 25, 2001
Posts: 1793
My Granny died a few years back, very old and with few memories left. This is my favorite story about her. I'm posting here so it's recorded somewhere.

I was still a kid and we were at her house visiting. Like usual, we were all sitting around the kitchen table. She got up for no apparent reason, took her purse from the counter, emptied its contents into the trash, hung the purse up in the closet, and returned to the table, all this without comment. So I asked, "Granny, what did you throw away from your purse?" She answered, "I went to the flea market today." As if that were sufficient explanation.

Granny loved flea markets and yard sales and auctions and such. Her cellar was full to the ceiling with purchases. She knew no greater pleasure in life than to buy a $1 mystery bag and bring it home to discover that it contained four different sizes of burned-out lightbulbs or a baby food jar full of bent nails.

So I looked in the trash can to see what was there, and it contained a pile of puzzle pieces. "So you threw away a puzzle, but why was it in your purse?" But it wasn't pieces from a single jigsaw puzzle, it was pieces from many different puzzles. Granny used to spend her days at the local senior citizens center. People played pool or cards or sewed quilts or built puzzles. Granny complained that whenever they built a puzzle, it always turned out (of course you only find out at the end!) that there were a few pieces missing. So her response to this was, whenever she was at a flea market, to steal a couple puzzle pieces from each box (or mix some pieces across boxes) whenever the person selling them wasn't looking. "That'll show them!" she said.

So I asked, "But doesn't stealing the pieces just mess things up for you in the end? What if someone at the senior center buys that puzzle and you end up building it, only to discover that it's missing pieces?" She looked at me like I was some kind of fool. In her mind, no, she was making things right in the world.

I've always been more of a "pay it forward" person rather than "screw the next guy." But I've also got an eye for the absurd. It delights me sometimes to think of my grandmother as some small force of chaos in the universe or cosmic re-arranger of small objects.
Marc Peabody
pie sneak

Joined: Feb 05, 2003
Posts: 4727

I learned a trick from my wife's extended family during one of my first visits over the Holidays.

Whenever someone is putting together a puzzle, and many people in her family enjoy putting puzzles together, it's likely that one family member is going to steal one of the pieces. Usually, it's Aunt "Gogo" (her clown name - many in the family do clowning and I'm deathly afraid of clowns, but that's another story).

Anyway, the puzzle-workers eventually get to the end of the puzzle and frustratingly find that only one piece is missing. Everyone runs hands across the puzzle, stands up, checks the floor, peaks under the edges of the puzzle, checks the floor again. In the midst of the crazy search, casually will Aunt Gogo stroll to the table to put the last piece in place, stealing the glory of others' effort.

After a couple years of this I decided to steal a piece as well. During the normal frantic search, Aunt Gogo put her piece in place then found that there was another one missing.

That year I stole the glory.

A good workman is known by his tools.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11955

maybe she should have saved those pieces. if just once, when they almost finished the puzzle, if she could have pulled that last piece from here purse, what a hero she'd have been!!!

There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Missing pieces
It's not a secret anymore!