It is Christmas time, which means it is advent calendar time for the kids and for those of us who are kids at heart. My wife bought our kids chocolate advent calendars from Trader Joe’s. For those who do not know advent calendars, these are countdown calendars to Christmas starting on December 1st. Each day has a window which you can open to reveal a chocolate. Each day has a unique shaped chocolate, a Christmas tree, a stocking etc. The kids love this.
We keep the advent calendars on the top of our refrigerator to ensure they are not tempted to eat all of the chocolate at once. This morning, I found the advent calendars on the table and a crying Annie. Annie is our youngest daughter. She was very upset.
“I did not get any chocolate today from my calendar”, she said while crying.
“You must have eaten it already”, was my response. Of course, the kids eat chocolate and sometimes they are impatient and eat more than one day’s worth. In my mind, it was a reasonable assumption to make.
Annie explained that she opened the window with 6 on it and did not find any chocolate. I looked at the calendar, and sure enough, the window for day 6 on it was open. My initial hypothesis stayed the same – Annie ate the chocolate, and she is not telling me the entire truth.
My wife suggested she open the window for day 7 and eat that chocolate. Annie then proceeded to open the window with 7 on it, in front of me. Lo and behold, it did not have any chocolate. Annie looked at me with sad eyes. I realized, I was wrong to have assumed that Annie had eaten the chocolate!
“This is a mystery”, said Audrey, her twin sister.
Now I had a second hypothesis – those darn calendar makers; they do not know what they are doing. They obviously missed filling all the spots with chocolate. As a Quality Engineer, I have seen operator errors. I have now jumped to my second hypothesis.
Having thought about for a bit, I looked at the available information. Based on what Annie told me, the chocolate was not in its spot for two consecutive days. These calendars did not have the numbers in the consecutive order. They were placed in random order. It did not strike to me that two candies at different locations would be missing candy. She had opened a spot between 6 and 7 on an earlier day, and it had the candy.
I had a reasonable hypothesis – the operator/equipment missed the spots in the calendar. I have seen it happen before in different environments. But still, something was not right.
I proceeded to put the advent calendar back onto the top of the refrigerator. Then I thought of something. I wanted to test the calendar more. I carefully opened the calendar from the base. It was a card board box with a plastic tray inside.
Just then I found out what happened! On multiple places, the chocolate was missing. The chocolate were misplaced from its cavities. They were all gathered at the bottom of the box. It could be from the transportation. It could be the end user i.e. my excited young daughter who shook the calendar. It could be the design of the calendar that allows extra space between the tray and the cardboard.
The most important thing was that Annie was now happy that she got her candies. Audrey was happy that we indeed had a mystery that we could solve. My wife and I were happy that our kids were happy.
This personal story has made me realize again that we should not jump to conclusions. Listen to that tiny little voice that says “there is something more to this”…
Always keep on learning…
In case you missed it, my last post was about “Lady Tasting Tea”.