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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


December 6th, 2020


Lucilius entered the enormous hardware store and vaguely looked around at the towering isles of lumber, tools, hardware and other supplies.  Banner signs hung with an assorted lists of items, but Lucilius couldn’t see any that sparked a connection to his issue.  He looked down at the gadget he’d removed from a machine he was trying to fix and wondered exactly how to phrase the issue he was having.  


Frankly, the issue was that Lucilius didn’t know the word for the piece he seemed to need, but the parts involved seem to indicate it’s phantom shape.

He wandered past the isles until one seemed to offer hardware similar to the size and shape of the thing he needed.  He scanned the shelves as he slowly made his way down the aisle until nearly bumping into someone who clearly worked at the store.

“Excuse me,” Lucilius primed.  “I was wondering if you could help me figure out the piece that’s missing here?”


The worker looked down at the gadgetry that Lucilius was holding.


“Oh, easy,” the worker said.  “Check aisle 33, there should be someone there to show you where it is.”


“Fantastic,” Lucilius said.  “Thank you.


After walking nearly the length of the warehouse-sized store, he found aisle 33 and luckily there was another worker cataloguing items.


“Excuse me, I was told by one of your colleagues that the piece I’m looking for is in this aisle and that I should talk to you.”


The worker took the piece of hardware from Lucilius and turned it over, looking at it’s design, it’s connections and fixtures.


“Yea, I don’t know who you were talking too, but you need aisle 11.”


Lucilius was momentarily dismayed, but it wasn’t a dead end.  So he took back the piece, thanked the worker and backtracked until he found aisle 11.  He was in luck, there was a third worker in this aisle, and again he went through the charade.


“Excuse me, I’m looking for a piece to make this work.  Someone ins aside 33 sent me here.”


The worker took the piece from Lucilius and turned it over.  “Hmm, strange they sent you here, you need aisle 9.”


By this point Lucilius was beginning to feel a bit exasperated.  But he took back the piece and walked off, failing to thank the worker, and feeling only the slimmest bit of comfort that aisle 9 was a lot closer.  But when he arrived at aisle 9 his heart sank: it was the very first place he’d started and asked for help.  But this time there was a different worker scanning the shelves - an older gentleman with a tailored moustache.  


“Excuse me,” Lucilius asked a bit more brusquely than he’d intended.  “But I’ve been running around this store on a bit of a goose chase looking for a piece to fix this thing, and everyone here keeps telling me it’s somewhere else.”


The older gentleman took a moment to look a Lucilius over the rims of his spectacles.  There was a slight and bemused smile bending up against the moustache.


“That so?”  The old man said, momentarily looking back at the task he was at, organizing some dissolved merchandise on a shelf.


“Yea, and I actually started here, but I was talking to someone different, obviously.”


The older man glanced quickly at the gadgetry that Lucilius held.  “Do you know what you’ve got there?”

Lucilius hesitated.  “Well, no.  I pulled it from a machine I’m trying to fix.”


“I can see that,” the older man said, now turning to Lucilius.  He held out his hand for the piece and Lucilius gave it to him.


“Let’s see,” the old man continued.  “I’ve got about a 50-50 shot at guessing correctly.”  The old man twisted an end of his moustache.  “I be the person in this aisle sent you to aisle 33?”

“How’d you know that?”


The old man was further bemused.  “And did you come here from aisle 11?”

“Yea, how’d you know?”

The old man raised the piece and pointed to a specific spot.  “And let me guess, you’re looking for the piece that goes right here?”

“Yes!” Lucilius exclaimed, “Finally, someone who knows what they are talking about.”


The old man was smiling.  He turned the piece and pointed to another fixture.  “This connection is used in boilers, which is why you were sent to aisle 33, but the guy there probably didn’t think you were looking for a brand new boiler to hook up to a boiler part.  He sent you off to aisle 9 because this part which it looks like you removed is over there.”  The old man turned the piece again and pointed at a new spot.  “But that just needs to be removed to get this thing off of the machine, I’m pretty sure.”


Lucilius nodded.  “Yea, that’s right.”


“Commonly used, but it’s a feature of the male end, not the female end here, so the guy in aisle 9 sent you here assuming you needed this.”  The old man pulled something off the shelf and clicked it on to the gadget.  “But, I’m guessing you have that piece too?”


“Yea, I didn’t bring it.”


“And it’s the missing piece that goes right there that you’re looking for?” The man pointed to a specific spot.

“Yes, exactly.”

“So it seems everyone was doing their job just fine, given what they were handed.”


“I guess,” Lucilius fretted, “but I don’t know what any of these pieces are called.”


“Simple enough mistake.”


“So now that I’ve finally found someone who understands what I’m after, where can I find it?”

The old man sighed with a larger smile.


“Well, that’s the biggest reason why no one here assumed you were talking about it: specialty part, we don’t carry it.”

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 966: A Lucilius Parable: Foiled Try

Tinkered Thinking

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