We continue our series of personal, impactful stories that have shaped how we practice law. Mary Aretha, our newest addition to the practice group has written a life lesson based on her favorite board game. I was hesitant before reading, (largely because I was a fan of Uncle Wiggily) but she hooked me!
“Start down the colorful road to sweet surprises…” This is the promise of the official product description for the classic Hasbro children’s board game, Candy Land.
For anyone unfamiliar with Candy Land, it is a simple racing board game requiring no skill, memory, or strategy. The goal is to locate “King Kandy”—the lost king of Candy Land. The Candy Land game board is made up of a winding path of colorful squares. Each player moves ahead along the path by choosing a card. The cards show a colored square directing the player where to move his or her gingerbread man marker. The winner of the game is the first person to move his or her gingerbread man to the end of the path to reach King Kandy’s Castle. Along the path there are a series of landmarks, including the Candy Cane Forest, Gum Drop Mountain, Queen Frostine’s Castle, and Gramma Nutt’s house.
The game contains a number of shortcuts. Some cards contain two squares allowing the player to skip ahead twice the distance. The game board also has two “bridges.” If a player lands on a bridge, she can jump ahead further along the path.
In addition to the shortcuts, the game also features several obstacles. A few of the squares on the path contain a black dot representing molasses. If a player becomes stuck in the molasses, she cannot move forward until selecting a card with the same color as the square containing the dot.
Perhaps the biggest risk of the game is the possibility of selecting a card marked with a character appearing along the path to the King’s Castle. If a player selects a card with a character on it, the player must move ahead (or behind) to the square representing the character’s landmark. As a result of the fortuitous selection of a card, a player may catapult to the top of the board or plummet back to the bottom. There is no way of knowing in advance what will happen.
I remember playing this game with my dad as a kid. I remember the trepidation I felt selecting a card from the pile. Would I leap ahead of my dad’s gingerbread man by selecting Princess Lolly and moving all the way to the top of the board, or would I select the infamous “Plumpy” card and tumble back to the beginning? On more occasions that I can count, one of us would be on the brink of reaching the King’s Castle only to fall back toward the beginning of the path. The longer we played, the more times we would select one of the “good” cards and move toward the top of the board, and the more times we would select the “bad” cards (i.e., Plumpy), and move back to the beginning. Eventually, over time, the positive cards and negative cards evened out.
As I reflect back on this simple game, I realize how much it relates to the unpredictability of the practice of law and life more generally. Sometimes, I receive unexpected good news and it is like turning over the “Lolly” card. At times, I find myself faced with unexpected bad news, which reminds me of turning over the “Plumpy” card. Candy Land, and Plumpy in particular, taught me to prepare for, and move on from, life’s unexpected setbacks.
While I was writing this article I looked up the history of Candy Land. Plumpy was removed from the game in 2002. That’s a shame. Plumpy was my first life lesson. He taught me that life can be full of surprises, joys, and disappointments. More importantly, Plumpy taught me that no matter what situation life throws my way, and no matter what progress I may lose during the journey, I have to turn over another card and continue down the road. A simple lesson for the practice of law as well!
In our second article this month
, Thomas W. Werner discusses a recent decision that could greatly impact the indemnity obligations of staffing agencies arising from claims against school districts under Title IX