When you don't see what's right in front of you...
I should start off by telling you guys that I’m very unobservant, for things that my brain deems aren’t important. A couple examples: My mom and I went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall right after a giant snowstorm this winter. They had pushed all the snow from the parking lot into one gargantuan pile. A snow mountain that must’ve been at least 100 feet tall. I didn’t even see it. We walked RIGHT past it, and I had no idea. My mom had to point it out to me, and was astounded I hadn’t noticed.
Example 2: My boyfriend (Scott) and I were out with my brother (Grant) and his girlfriend (Sarah) for dinner at the Galleria in Edina. It was going to be 15-20 minutes before our table was ready, so we decided to just walk around the mall. We were wandering around checking out some stores. For 20 minutes. At this point my boyfriend remarked on all the construction going on. I looked down (for the very first time) and noticed that ALL of the floors were ripped up, and there were big yellow construction poles lined up along the walkway we had been walking on that was made up of cardboard. It was all throughout the mall, and we’d been there 20 minutes, and I had NO CLUE until someone mentioned it.
That is how unobservant I am.
Puzzle Room Time!
A couple weekends ago, Grant, Sarah, Scott and I did a puzzle room at Fargo Escape Room. This was Grant and I’s second time in a puzzle room, and Sarah and Scott’s first time.
We were agents on a mission. We walked into the first tiny room where you could see into another room, but there was a locked door in the way. There were some agent looking jackets and badges which we all put on immediately. Then we started our mission.
Throughout the mission I learned several things, one of which was how important it is for people to have different perspectives, because we all notice different things and see the world in unique ways. Which is SUPER handy in a puzzle room situation.
LESSON 1: PUZZLE ROOMS ARE HARD WHEN YOU’RE UNOBSERVANT
To be honest, I feel like an idiot when I’m in a puzzle room, because you must be very observant and notice tiny details, which is SO HARD for me to do.
LESSON 2: PLAY TO EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS
Luckily, the 4 of us know each other well, which I think was a big advantage. We knew when to pass on a job to someone else. For example, there was a big maze on the wall, where you had to use gravity to move this ball through the maze to get to different levels. Grant walked up to it and said “This is important, someone do it.” He knew he wouldn’t have the patience to get it done. I said “I’ve got it” and jumped in. I found doing the maze enjoyable, I figured it out rather quickly, and once it had been solved a door unlocked.
Later on in our adventure, Grant and I found some secret glasses, that when used to look at a blank computer screen, we could see the puzzle that Scott was trying to blindly figure out in the other room. Scott had been working on the puzzle for a long time, because he had to do it without looking which was very difficult. I put on the glasses and remarked “I can see your hands Scott!” He replied “Great, let’s do this together!” But I had already handed Grant the glasses and said “You help him.” I knew I wouldn’t be good at describing the puzzle to Scott but knew Grant would be. The two of them figured it out quickly.
LESSON 3: ALL DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW ARE NEEDED TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE TOGETHER
Throughout the mission, I noticed how super useful it was that we all think of things in different ways. At one-point Sarah said, “Why do you think there are magnifying glasses all over?” I said, “It’s probably just a fake clue, I’m sure it’s not important.” Later, we found a slip of paper with pictures of items and plus signs, there was a picture of a magnifying glass + badge + key + something else I don’t remember. I had no clue what it meant. Sarah immediately said, “We should count how many of each of these things there are, I bet that’s a code for something.” Indeed, we added up each of the items, and it was the code for a lock. Clever.
At another point, Grant and I unlocked a cabinet with a bunch of little glass bottles with numbers on them, and cotton inside. There were the numbers 0-9 on the different bottles. We had NO IDEA what they were for. We assumed that it had something to do with a code, but couldn’t figure out what. We just decided one thing, we shouldn’t open the bottles. In bottle number 6, the cotton was died orange, so we thought that was maybe a clue. Sarah couldn’t figure out what the bottles were for either.
There was this other clue, kind of like the one that Sarah had figured out with the magnifying glasses and keys earlier. This one had picture of food with plus signs in-between. It was a peppermint + chocolate + banana + apple. We didn’t know what that could be for because there wasn’t any food in the room.
Scott had been working on something in the other room. He walked in and immediately picked up a little bottle, took the top off and smelled it! He said “These smell like different foods, I bet it’s a clue.” Grant and I had no clue we were supposed to smell the bottles! We matched the smells from the bottles to the picture with the food to figure out the code for a locked safe.
There were many more examples of how our different perspectives worked together so beautifully to efficiently solve problems and move on to the next step.
WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF THEY HAD SCHOOL KIDS DO THIS?
I was thinking while we were there and working together, how much more fun it was to work as a group in this setting, than the group projects we had at school. I thought it would be so neat if they took kids from schools to puzzle rooms to play and solve missions together.
We’ve all heard that things like “It takes all kinds,” or “We all need to work together,” but I don’t think we get a lot of good examples of this as adults or as kids. We mostly stick with our same groups and tend to find like-minded thinkers.
The puzzle room was a fun way to see how wonderful it is when we all work together. Seems like such a simple event, but for us it was a good teachable moment. And we all talked and laughed about our mission afterwards over dinner.
ONE LAST FUNNY THING
We had found the last code for the safe (from the bottles), but you could only try that safe 3 times before it would lock you out for 5 minutes. And we had already tried it twice for another idea. When we were smelling the bottles, it was hard to tell which was banana. We got the code incorrect the first time. Then the safe timed out and we had to wait 5 minutes. There were 18 minutes on the clock then. By the time we could enter the correct code, we were down to 13 minutes and still had a logic puzzle to solve. We had been working on it throughout, so that didn’t take very long.
When we solved the logic puzzle, a door unlocked. We figured we still had a lot to get done before finishing the mission, and now we didn’t have much time to spare.
Grant and Sarah said “Fan out, check out everything, open all the doors, see what you can find, we don’t have much time left.”
The best way I can describe how we busted through the door and spread out was like a Scooby Doo cartoon. We immediately started opening doors and rummaging through things. Grant had brought the laser gun with from the previous room just in case we needed it, haha. He was running around with his little plastic gun.
The man working at the puzzle rooms busted out from behind a curtain and said “Guys, stop! You’re done! You solved it, you’re back in the main lobby and you’re opening up all the other puzzle rooms!” We laughed, we didn’t even know we had finished the puzzle.
MORAL OF THE STORY
If you have kids, I would take them to a puzzle room as a group (if they let kids do them, I guess I’m not sure). I think it would be a great learning tool for them and they’d have a blast!
Adults: I think it’s good for you to do it too. Maybe go with your family like I did, or some friends. It makes you really appreciate and admire your differences.
Comment: Have you been to a puzzle room before? Where? Did you have fun?