A funny story about the cube
My first experience with a Rubik’s cube was when I was about 2. I had no idea what it was, all I knew was that it was bright and colourful. I introduced it to my teeth straight away. Hello Mr Colourful, how are you doing today? I’m fine, thank you Mr Teeth. Needless to say, that cube didn’t make it far.
My next encounter with a cube was a decade or so later, when an acquaintance of mine had one on his person. After turning it a couple of times, I went out and bought a cheap imitation 3×3 cube from the local $2 store. It was fine, and it will forever hold a place in my heart as the cube I learnt to cube with, but the paint began to peel within a week. I needed a new cube. I could’ve just bought another cheap cube, but the paint would’ve peeled on that one, too. So I begged my parents to buy me a official brand Rubik’s cube for hours on end. Eventually they relented. But there was a catch; I had to buy it with my own money. Emptying my wallet, I procured the $15 or so that I needed to attain the object of my dreams.
The next day, we went to the local store and looked for a Rubik’s cube in the toy aisle. It wasn’t there. I checked the next aisle. It wasn’t there either. Or in the next one. Or the one after that. By this time I was getting pretty hysterical. I ran back to the first aisle and practically ransacked the thing in hopes of finding the cube. No luck. In the next aisle, I vividly remember throwing aside a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles board game and hearing a dull thunk. Finally, after 10 minutes of searching, I conceded defeat.
I went to the customer service desk and asked them to check their stock to see if they had any in store. They didn’t, but there was another branch 5 minutes up the road that did. I went out to the car and begged my dad to drive me up to the other branch. He grudgingly agreed, on the condition that I buy him a cup of coffee. We set out for the store at top speed, nearly crashing into a milk truck on the way. We pulled into the parking lot with a screech of burning rubber; I flung open the car door and rushed into the store. I ran back down to the toy aisle(s), where history repeated itself by refusing to show me so much as a corner of a Rubik’s cube. But the nice lady at the customer services at the other store had told me there were 12 in stock; had she been lying? Downcast, I slowly trudged back to the customer services desk and waited behind an old lady who had some trouble with a baby’s crib. After listening for what seemed to be hours about warranty and cracked wood and splinters and insurance, I finally got to the front of the line.
Hands trembling, I mumbled the question I had been rehearsing in my head: do you have any Rubik’s cubes in stock and if so, where are they? The answer was yes, but “because they’ve only been brought in yesterday, they might not be out on the shelves yet so that’s probably why you can’t find any, hon. Do you want us to take a look?” The reply was yes, please.
The lady behind the counter hollered for an assistant and told her to take a look in the backroom for a Rubik’s Cube. The assistant nodded and was gone. I sat down and waited. And waited. And checked the clock. And waited some more. And stared at the TV. And waited. Finally my Mum (who had kept quiet and stayed by my side like a loyal dog all this time) stormed up to the customer services desk and burst out: “Where is my son’s Rubik’s cube? We have been waiting over 30 minutes and it is an outrage that we have been kept waiting this long!” This seemed to fluster the woman behind the counter, who sprang into action, calling thrice on the intercom for the assistant and sending another assistant to the backroom to find the first assistant. When the assistant turned up, she was flirting with another assistant. She spent an unnecessary amount of time saying goodbye before coming over to us. She said she looked for a cube half an hour ago but couldn’t find any, and that she thought that she missed the box somewhere, and that we should just “try again tomorrow”.
The services lady then broke in and asked if we would like to reserve that product for when it was found. “Of course! If they all got sold out, then all of that waiting would have been for nothing!” snorted Mum. After a hasty exchange of phone numbers and credit cards, we left the store. My mum was in a huff, because according to her Dad would be extremely mad, or to put it her way “he would have blown his top off”.
Rushing to the car park, pausing only at the nearest cafe to buy a large flat white with two sugars, anxiously anticipating Dad’s reaction, with Mum fretting all the while, it was quite a stressful experience. When we finally opened the car doors, silence greeted us. Dad was playing pool on his phone, not paying us the slightest bit of attention. We went inside and sat down. And waited. He said “What took you so long?” Mum immediately launched into a long-winded explanation of how the lazy assistant didn’t tell us anything, how the stock was only bought in today, about the reservation, etc. etc. Dad merely grunted and turned the key in the ignition.
When we got home, I sat in my room, staring at my cheap cube. I stayed that way for quite some time until Mum crept in to my room and said “Dear, the shop called, they found 12 Rubik’s cubes. They say we can go and pick it up tomorrow.” and withdrew.
The next day, after training, I came home and found a brand new Rubik’s cube, still in its packaging. I took it out and just stared at it for a while. Then I got in a few solves before my Mum told me off for not taking a shower. I played with the Rubik’s Cube for a while, then started breaking it in.
It was everything I could ever have asked for. It was stable, it was controllable, it was smooth. For a short while I was in seventh heaven. But alas, good things don’t last forever. While doing OLL, the orange face plate on the orange-green edge piece fell out. I put it back in, but it fell out again. And again.
I went to Mum, who insisted that we go to the store and demand they replace it. I agreed. Dad drove us to the store again, where we went to the customer services desk. The lady recognised us, and commented that we had finally got the Rubik’s cube. Then we surprised her by saying that we wanted to replace it. She said “I can’t see anything wrong with the cube!” I up-ended the cube, where the orange tile dutifully slid out at once. She looked at the tile and said “Oh, yes. Well then, go find another one you want to swap it out for and bring it here”.
So I went back down to the accursed toy aisle, where I found a pile of Rubik’s cubes under Monopoly, Game of Thrones edition. I was going to take the first one I saw, but then Mum warned me to “choose wisely, as I doubt your father will swap your cube out a third time!” Upon close inspection, the cube that I was gripping had black specks all over the white face. I quickly put it back in the pile and picked out another one, which thankfully had no discolourations or disfigurements of any sort. As we stood at the checkout line, I muttered to Mum “Next time, I’d rather buy online.”