About a week ago I was walking down the street, a block away from my house, when I found a thousand piece puzzle in a box on the sidewalk. The picture on it was of a pretty ocean like scene, and in the margins of the picture on the front of the box it said: “Magic Puzzle 3D” and “Magic 3D Effect!”. I kept walking.
A minute later, the thought occurred to me: I like puzzles. And so I turned around, walked halfway down the block, and collected the magic 3D ocean puzzle for myself. These are corona times after all, and there’s not much to do outside of school work and scrolling through my phone. When I got home I dumped the puzzle out on the floor next to my bed, and quickly realized its true scale. The thing was massive!
With not much left to do for the day, and having already created a mess by dumping out a thousand pieces of 3D ocean magic on my floor, I started sorting. The difficulty of this puzzle, I quickly realized, was not the number of pieces, but the fact that each different fish was depicted anywhere from 1-4 times in different places. The challenge of this is that it means my sorting of the grayish green pieces into one pile and the reddish blue ones into another pile did not correspond to putting pieces which would necessarily go together anywhere near each other. I’ve probably spent an hour on the puzzle every day for the past week, and I think 2-3 of those days were just sorting by color and sifting through for edge pieces.
As I write this, I’ve maybe put together about two hundred of the pieces, despite a week’s worth of effort. It’s possible I’m simply terrible at puzzles, but I think the abundance of blue ocean and repeated fish probably just make this one really hard. That said, it is starting to come together.
A thousand piece puzzle is a massive project that comes without instructions. It’s up to you to figure out a strategy, and fit the pieces together to create a collective image. Considering I’m spending the majority of my free time these days either writing job applications or on this puzzle, the similarities between the two have started to strike me. Each one is about creating an image from disjunct pieces. You have to create the image to market yourself, they don’t sell the puzzle by putting a picture of a pile of puzzle pieces on the front. They sell it with the final product, a scene filled with glamorous fish, and they market it’s 3D ocean magic effect. In the coming weeks and months, I hope the hiring managers reading my CV are convinced when I include pictures of dolphins in the corner and list “professional puzzle maker” under my work experience.