Mark Pearl

In a parallel world there is a job where people get paid to solve puzzles - now, when I say puzzles I mean the real puzzles with puzzle pieces you have to put together to make a picture. In this world there are all sorts of puzzles; some puzzles are small, some are big, some are complex while others are really simple ordinary puzzles.

You are young and have just finished school and love solving puzzles as a hobby. The thought of getting paid to solve puzzles blows your mind - it would be like getting paid to have fun! Lucky for you there is a company down the road that pays people to solve puzzles, you apply to them for a position and actually get the job!

Your first few weeks as a professional puzzle solver are amazing, you get your first puzzle, it’s a lot more complicated than the puzzles you did at home, but you put your best effort in and eventually manage to finish it. You feel really fulfilled.

You then get your second puzzle. It’s pretty similar to the first one - still pretty complicated for you but you are a quick learner and manage to finish it slightly faster than it took you to do the first - you have a sense of achievement that you are doing great work and growing in your puzzle solving abilities.

You then get the third puzzle, it’s pretty much the same as the previous two puzzles - you are surprised by this. This time you manage to finish it in a couple of days but it is not really feeling like a challenge. Your boss tells you that you you are getting a reputation for being really good at solving these types of puzzles.

You get the fourth puzzle, it’s identical to the first you did! You do the puzzle, but to keep it challenging you only use your left hand to place the pieces. It’s a little boring, but doing it this way makes it more interesting.

And so as the months go on you keep getting the same type of puzzles over an over again. You try find different ways of keeping it interesting. You find a book that was recommended to you by a colleague that has different patterns for solving puzzles in it. You try every pattern in the book on your next puzzle. Solve the puzzle with no eyes, solve the puzzle upside down, solve the puzzle with no hands.

By now a two years have passed by. You look back over the puzzles you have solved and realize that essentially all the puzzles you have solved up to now are the same. Yes the pictures on the puzzle are not identical, and sometimes the pieces in each puzzle are slightly different shapes, but essentially it’s the same type of puzzle. You are bored.

So, you ask your work for a different type of puzzle to solve. Your boss tells you that you are really good at solving your type of puzzles, but that you don’t have enough experience solving other types of puzzles for it to make sense for them to move you on to those. The only way you are going to get to solve a different type of puzzle is to find a different place to work.

You look around and find another company looking for professional puzzle solvers. The puzzles they solve are a little different to the ones you are used to, and you find that interesting. You quit your job and join the new company, but now you know how the game works - you’ve got a year or two of fun with this type of puzzle before you are going to have to find a new company to work for.

And that is how the puzzle solver’s life goes.

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