Discover more from The Retroist
My Quest for Muttley
In late spring of 2021 I went to the local supermarket to pick up some groceries. It’s something I had done hundreds of times, but this time it was different.
I went through the entranceway, passing the water vending machine and the machine that takes mobile phones and gives you money, when I happened to glance at the crane game. That’s when I saw him, pushed up against the glass, a handsome Muttley plush stuffed animal.
I went into the store and tried to go about my business, but my marketing that day was distracted by thoughts of one of my favorite cartoon characters locked away in this machine.
As I paid for my groceries, I thought, “He should be with me.”
So as I exited the store, I stopped at the crane game and tried two times. As you can see from the photo above, his placement at the time made even touching him with the hook difficult. So I went home empty-handed, but resolved that every time I returned, I would check out the game and when possible attempt to free Muttley.
Right before I left, I snapped a photo to remind myself. After two weeks had passed, I decided to tweet that photo. To my surprise, I got a lot more support for my quest than I expected. This just made me want him more.
Whenever I went to the supermarket, I didn’t always try to play. Only when Muttley seemed “grabbable,” would I make an attempt. Slowly I became aware of the ebb and flow of the game. When they would fill it? What days they would restock it? How Muttley would move around after being restocked.
Still, I wasn’t making much progress. So I watched videos on how to play crane games. Then I considered trying to bribe the person who refills the game. I even asked someone who worked at the supermarket if they knew the contact information of this mysterious machine maintainer.
They seemed surprised to learn that they even had a crane game.
This went on for months and I made a good amount of attempts. Then one day, I went to the supermarket and Muttley was gone. It was a gut punch.
For the next month, I would walk by the machine, scanning and hoping that Muttley would reappear. I was finally able to meet the guy who restocked the machines, and I asked him if he knew about the Muttley that had been in the machine?
His answer was a disinterested, “Maybe.” After further prying, he told me that stuff that had in this machine might have been reused in some crane games in stores north of here that had higher turnover. If I wanted to find Muttley, that might be the place to check.
I kept trying to figure out a time to make the trip, but then to my surprise, when I went to my regular store, there he was! Perched on top like an angel, I went to work trying to free him, and with a couple of tries I was successful.
Did the person who stocked the machine remember some random person was looking for Muttley and restock him? Was I just fated to be with Muttley? I am not sure. All that matters to me now is that we are together and will be for years to come.
One thing that was consistent throughout this quest was support from people on Twitter and Discord. So to all of you who were hoping for success and cheered me on, Muttley and I would like to offer you a very heartfelt thanks.