Trying to grab the elusive prize

I was browsing through some popular smartphone apps and saw one that was a prize claw game. I remember those enticing, frustrating machines from my childhood.

Normally, I would hit my parents up for a nickel or quarter and choose something from those toy and candy dispensing machines that are in the front of stores. Most times I would get a brightly-colored gumball that I could barely fit in my mouth. Sometimes I would get sour candy of some sort, which would come out in a rush from the dispenser, and would often go spilling over my tiny hands. I also collected dozens of tiny toys stuffed in plastic capsules from those vending machines. I always had the bad luck of getting something I already had.

The claw machine that I remember was located in a restaurant geared towards kids. It was a destination spot for birthday parties. I remember my parents and I going to get ice cream one hot summer afternoon. As we were leaving, the claw machine captured my attention. A little boy watched eagerly as his dad worked the claw and magically grabbed a stuffed animal. He squealed with delight and ran off to show his mom what hero Dad had captured.

I had doubts Dad could recreate that magic. Dad was not mechanically minded, and as it turns out, neither am I. As an adult, I would never attempt to work one of those claw machines, as I know I would just embarrass myself. Even though I was filled with doubt, I begged Dad to drop a quarter and win me something. He obliged, but was completely confused about the controls and how to work them. He managed to move the claw an inch and grab some air. Game over.

So much of our lives are spent going after the prize, but it’s the effort and the reason why we try at all that should be celebrated.

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