“How do you like the Pathfinder, then?”
The amazing machine I had just toured was going to take me to the stars! I had an extensive list of superlatives stacked up and ready to go but before they could come gushing out my eyes picked up on a small detail, a small flaw in the studied perfection that I had grown so quickly accustomed to. So completely at odds with everything else that I had seen on my little tour was this that I had to stop myself and perform a quick double-take.
“You know,” said my questioner, in a somewhat conspiratorial tone, “this ship is probably the most intently designed object that Humanity has ever produced. Every millimetre of her has been worked on by armies of specialists from every field you can think of…and some you probably wouldn’t believe. The decision to have pale green walls in the mess area required many hundreds of hours of discussion and nearly caused a minor war to break out amongst the interior designers. There was a very strong ‘fawn’ faction…
“Somehow though, none of the smart boys and girls appear to have considered that one—somewhat taller than average—chief engineer might just be prone to hitting his head on the sharp corner near the entrance to his office. After one near-concussion too many, I decided to take things into my own hands.
“Last time I came back from downplanet leave, I snuck a six-pack of tennis balls and a couple of rolls of duct tape into my baggage. You're looking at the result.
“You know the bit of folklore that says that every Persian carpet contains a single deliberate flaw, to remind us that only Allah is perfect? To me, this is the Pathfinder's one small deliberate flaw and I love her all the more for it!
“I'll make sure that when they start designing the Pathfinder II they use a few more rounded corners.
He winked and continued, “Until then we can just keep this our little secret, eh?”