To business that we love we rise betime and go to it with delight —Shakespeare
Working in the escape game industry can be repetitive. Games Masters watch the same puzzles get solved over and over and over. This can fool us into believing that people are just as predictable. But every now and then, a customer with some unexpected talent, saying, or eccentricity restores one's faith in people's ability to shock, delight, and move.
The boy who loved Egypt
A family had just emerged from our Pharaoh's Chamber when the son, whose 14 th birthday it was, said, ‘I appreciated the realism of your canopic jars.’ I must have looked confused, for he went on, ‘you know, canopic jars, where they put the organs—livers and kidneys and stuff.’ I had not known, but clearly I should have. There I was, in my third year running the Chamber (as we call it), and never once had I inquired into the nature of those little golden jars. The boy showed me pictures from his family holiday in Egypt.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘our hotel balcony looked over the Giza Pyramids.’ And there he was, sure enough, grinning on the balcony with one arm round his sister and the other pointing behind him, where the great wonder of the world rose up in the haze. He showed me pictures from inside Tutankhamen's tomb. ‘How did he die, again?’ I asked. ‘Modern scholarship diverges on this point,’ he said thoughtfully, ‘so I myself suspend judgment, but it is most fascinating, isn't it?’ If only all 14-year-olds were so bright (and polite).
Not long ago, a family showed up to play ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, one of our more physically demanding games. It was for the grandfather's birthday. He must have been about 90, by the looks of him, and seemed frail during the introduction. Once inside the game, however, he moved like lion in pursuit of an antelope. It soon became clear that he was drawing from past experience when he said, ‘Let's biff a few Germans, shall we?’ For that is the theme of ‘The Dark Side...’ Players must travel to the Moon and systematically destroy those national socialists who didn't opt for Brazil or the Vatican. It was really a thing of beauty: grandpa, laser guns akimbo, ‘biffing’-to use the Waughian term-as many gerries as possible, escaping an hour later with an irrepressible grin on his wrinkled face.
Crazy Carpet Lady
She was disturbingly eccentric from the moment she walked in. She seemed to sort of...sniff the
air, like a dog. Her hair was dreadlocked and matted, and covered in yellow beads. Like
Professor Trelawny from Harry Potter, she squinted out through think, circular glasses. Before
its grand revamping, Room 33 had, at that time, a carpet: purple, slightly worn, but a carpet
nonetheless. Once this lady was deposited safely inside, she proceeded to crawl around on all-
fours examining every square inch of the carpet. Her friends were obviously used to this kind of
behavior, because they just ignored and stepped over her, and she fumbled, squinted, and
sniffed around the floor. Once their game was up (they did not escape), she approach me and
‘I've been examining your carpet.’
‘Oh?’ I replied.
‘Yes...it's a bloody awful carpet. It's not even one carpet, just lots of squares of carpet pushed together.’
‘I hadn't noticed.’
She withdrew from her pocket a business card and leaned in close. She whispered: ‘Look...I sell carpets. Good carpets. All sorts of carpets. And your carpet is really bloody awful. Hit me up. Call me. I'm usually awake. I await your inquiry.’
I never did call her, and we have floorboards in Room 33 now, but I do sometimes wonder what amazing rug she might have provided.