…any kind of puzzle: jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, anagrams, logic problems, mystery plots, even technical troubleshooting. Want me to pay attention to you? Offer me a puzzle to solve, and I’ll gladly shelve routine work or household tasks and race to your rescue.
One of my first memories is sitting on my grandfather’s knee, his pipe over my shoulder, and his hands on my tiny two-year-old mitts, learning how to identify and match edge pieces. He always had a puzzle going on a card table somewhere in the house, and “working the edges” became my job on every visit. He died when I was four, and my mother continued the tradition. I can only remember a few times while I was growing up when our apartment was puzzle-free. When we had guests, the puzzle was carefully moved from the dining room table to a card-table in my bedroom.
As I grew older, I added other types of puzzles to my repertoire. Crossword puzzles first; I worked the Easy and Medium ones in the front of the monthly Dell Crossword Magazine, while my mother handled the Hard and Expert puzzles. When we started competing for the Hards, I had to buy my own subscription out of my babysitting money.
In school, my love of puzzles served me well in math and science classes. While other students moaned and complained about word problems, geometry proofs, energy diagrams and chemical equations, I treated them as games. I even loved lab write-ups, where we were expected to explain why our experimental results didn’t match what the theory predicted.
My work life has been filled with puzzles. My first career as a research chemist was all puzzles. I followed my last project into the product development division, where there were still a lot of puzzles to solve before the product was ready to market. When the company reorganized and eliminated my department, I started freelancing as a technical writer and computer coach: more puzzles to solve. I did take a couple of full-time, on-site technical writing jobs over the years but, when the work became routine and puzzles were thin on the ground, I’d look around for another freelance gig.
I added web design to the services I offered to clients, mostly as an excuse to spend time learning first HTML and then CSS—both of which offered fun-filled hours of puzzle-solving while I was writing code to meet client requirements for their website.
Sorry, gotta run! A client just called. Their WordPress blog stopped working after the last update, and I have to find out what part of their theme is incompatible with the latest WP version, and fix it. Another puzzle!