I went for a walk partway down the peninsula this morning. At one point, I realized I was walking past the Coyote Point playground, the one with the big castle-themed play structure. This site was the spot of perhaps my biggest puzzle-hunt-related f&#*-up, and there was something I'd always been curious to know. So I went over.
Years ago, the Pirate BATH puzzle hunt had started at this playground. I'd helped set up: distributing envelopes full of puzzle-parts at various spots around the main play area. The puzzle had 18 parts; each team would have to fetch one part from each envelope. I'd put an envelope on a little bench-thing. As I did so, I'd noticed that the bench had some Braille writing on it. Oh no, I thought. What if the players think the Braille is part of the puzzle? So I cleverly wrote "IGNORE THE BRAILLE" on that envelope so that players wouldn't be fooled. Except that the puzzle was all about Braille. Fortunately, many teams hadn't even noticed my warning. But the observant teams had got flat-out wrong advice. So, yeah, I had f&#*ed up. Sorry!
Now I had a chance to clear up one thing: What had the little bench's Braille message said? I had a Braille code cheat sheet with me as always. So I found the little bench. It was a sort of rocking-bench decorated to look like a snake. It was mounted on a spring so that kids could ride it. I pulled out my cheat-sheet, did some decoding:
I grumbled to myself. Benny Boa? This message didn't seem important. It wasn't safety information. It- it was just some branding, Some ugly bit of lizard-brain in the back of my skull had been looking for scapegoat ever since my mistake. Now it started yammering: The people who made this bench shouldn't have even put this $&#*ing Braille message on there in the first place. That was stupid, and it made me mess up.
But I was wrong, of course.
Why had I needed to pull out my code sheet? Because "Benny Boa" didn't appear on that bench in Latin characters anywhere. It was only in Braille. Only kids who knew Braille would know the name of this thing. It was like a secret message, a reward for Braille-literate kids. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Some designer at the Timberland playground equipment company had done something pretty cool.
And so I continued my walk, wandered over to Leon the giraffe statue (another game-ish spot), sat a while in the sun and felt a bit more at peace with my past mistakes.