The element of surprise is missing

The element of surprise seems all but gone these days in the world as we know it.

This we lamented in the newsroom last week, the observation made not long after a lovely big box of assorted chocolate candy had arrived.

The box was on the island in the center of the newsroom, the plastic around it ripped away with hast, the top pulled off with a ferocity that suggested an afternoon sweet tooth needed indulgence. A sugar rush of energy could do a body good, a small group of newsroom vultures concurred as they gathered around the gift of candy like wagons circling around the campfire in protection mode.

A box of chocolates invariably puts me to mind of the movie “Forrest Gump” where Tom Hanks’ character assures a fellow bench-sitting, bus-waiting patron what his mother always had to say on the subject.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna’ get.”

Not entirely true, Forrest.

Life might be like that, but thanks to the grid on the inside of the lid and now, an explanatory row-by-row, layer-by-layer what’s-in-there pamphlet along with it, there’s no mystery about the content of a box of chocolates, no reason to fear choosing something with coconut or nuts when caramel or cream is what you prefer.

It’s all there for the reading and interpreting, negating the need for “trial tasting,” i.e., cut a piece in half or take a bite and hope for the best.

Not that this informational approach doesn’t have its merits, but it fueled a conversation about the disappearing element of surprise.

It happens a lot, and not just with chocolates, we agreed.

Look at mothers- and parents-to-be. Who waits for the actual due date any longer to see if it’s a boy or a girl?

We know as soon as we can, information relayed to everyone else through those clever gender reveal parties or moments you see on Facebook posts.

No need to decorate the nursery in yellow.

No need to wonder if you should purchase pink or buy blue.

No need to make a list of girls’ names and boys’ names.

What was a 50-50 chance is now a 100 percent done deal.

We often know the outcome of things because of polls.

We don’t get lost driving places because GPS guides us from point A to point B, giving repeated instructions to turn here, take this exit, proceed x number of miles, blah, blah, blah.

Weather reports let us know when it’s going to be sunny or snowy, hot and humid, rainy or windy.

New food isn’t a surprise because we get samples for our taste buds to test.

And we know where mail is because it has a tracking number. No surprise it’s here, then there.

And here I am, out of space and at the end of another Sunday column.


(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at