"Operation" is available pretty much everywhere. I visit Wal-Mart (against my better judgement) a few times a month. They sell it. I have Amazon Prime, so in theory I could have a copy shipped to the house in a day or two for $19.99. For whatever reason, I just hadn't gotten around to it.
A few weeks back I went to St. Vincent De Paul's. It is a secondhand store akin to Goodwill. I was there looking for cheap board games for the break room at work. There I spotted a copy of "Operation." It was The Simpsons Special Edition where Homer is the patient. The box was in immaculate shape and it carried a price tag of $2.30. SCORE! I picked it up and bought it without even bothering to open the box (which was rubber banded shut).
I headed home and I cracked open the box. I grabbed the game board and quickly compared its organ list to the baggie full of plastic pieces that came with the game. They were all there! Wow! What are the odds of that? I really scored big on this one! Wait. Something's wrong. I read through the instructions and the game is supposed to come with money, doctor cards, and specialist cards. All missing. Crap!
To eBay! In no time I found a listing for missing "Operation" pieces. For about $3.00 + minimal shipping I scored the missing money and cards. Thanks "Buy It Now!" Okay, what's next? Oh. I should probably find out if the game actually works. Duh. I touched the operating tool to the metal plates and nothing. I opened the battery compartment and...NOOOOO! The batteries had exploded! Crap!
I removed the bad batteries and put in 3 new ones and tried again. Nothing. Double crap! Why did I go ahead and order the missing money and cards without checking to see if the game actually worked first? Grrr. And why didn't I bother opening the damned box in the first place before I bought it at St. Vincent's to make sure it was complete? Oh, well. I guess I'm only out about $7.00 at this point.
My wife called a friend and she suggested trying baking soda in the battery compartment to neutralize the battery acid. I went to the store and grabbed a box for $1.00 and filled up the compartment to the brim. I decided to let it sit overnight. Now I'm down about $8.00. Could be worse. I think a pack of Cigarettes costs about $8.00 these days. I'm so glad I quit 10 years ago (to the day, actually).
The next day I cleaned out the baking soda from the battery compartment and tried again. Nada. Damn it! What else could I try? To Google! I Googled "Clean AA battery terminals" and an article came up suggesting vinegar. Vinegar I had, so I put some on a Q-tip and swabbed out the terminals and the springs. Then I swabbed them again with water and then let it all dry.
The next day I put the batteries in again and...success! Homer's nose lit up and he talked. It worked! Alright! So now I'm only out $8.00 and a few days worth of experimentation. Could be much worse! As an aside, it's interesting the game runs on 3 AA batteries. The edition I had as a kid took D batteries! That's crazy! Anyway...
Easter weekend. I took the game with us to the family gathering so Connor could play with his cousins. The money and cards arrived safe and sound, so the game was complete. (Or was it?) This would be the perfect time to try it out. "Hey Kenn, did you know there's a piece missing?" Wait, what now? Yep. Turns out the Heart of Gold was missing. I had mis-counted the pieces. NOOO!
Welp...to eBay! I found another seller who sold the heart for $2.00 + $1.00 shipping. It's on the way as of this writing. I also ordered an hourglass timer that counts down 1 minute at a time to supplement the game and give a sense of urgency to perform the surgery. So now I'm up to $12.00 and probably 4 days worth of work. If I figure out my hourly pay rate, I'm obviously out a shitload of money at this point. But I guess that depends on how you look at it.
So...would I have been better off just having the original "Operation" drop shipped from Amazon to my doorstep for $19.99 and avoiding this whole mess? Eh...I don't think so. The way I look at it, this whole experience gave me:
- A chance to shop for random stuff! In the Internet age, the joy of the hunt is mostly gone. It's why I love going to secondhand stores and yard sales and flea markets. You never know what you'll find. I consider finding the game a win.
- A lesson learned: if you're buying something used, always open the box!
- I used a bit of resourcefulness to gather the missing pieces and make the incomplete game complete. Thank you eBay (and Internet in general).
- I learned something about exploded battery compartments. Something I will likely use again considering 80% of Connor's toys take batteries. LEVELING UP as a Dad? Priceless!
- Connor loves the game. We'll have a great time playing it as a family. And now, every time we play it with someone new I'll have a story to tell. A story of how this all came together that's far more interesting than "Yeah, I ordered this from Amazon Prime."
Finally? The experience made for a fairly compelling (hopefully) blog post. I don't blog nearly enough and "The Simpsons Operation" adventure gave me an excuse to do it.
As Stuntman Extraordinaire Rod Kimble once said: "Life is short...STUNT IT!"