There are a few good lessons in this long post, and if you want to skip to the TL;DR at the end I won’t blame you.
I’m on week 4 of 5 weeks in Philly for work (I live in GA). I was planning to meet some coworkers in Fishtown (in Philadelphia), but that fell through. Fortunately, the original Barcade in Fishtown has great beer, and even better pins. I got my first beer, and put 4 tokens into Dr. Dude, and that’s when things went horribly, horribly wrong.
Details are important here, so I’ll first point out that someone had walked away from ball 2. I played that game out, and it was fine. Then 4 tokens, press start, plunge. I tried to do a live catch and the ball bounced into the outhole. The flippers were stone dead, not moving at all. I hit the buttons a few more times to make sure. What I did next was bad: I power-cycled the game. I pressed start again. Again, the ball bounced off my dead flippers and into the outhole. This time, I decided the game was broken and I turned it off, for 2 reasons:
1. If it were my game, I would want it to be off so that no more damage could happen (my Space Station’s MPU caught fire once, when a pop bumper locked on).
2. This would let the location know that something was wrong with the game.
Just then, the owner of the game walked up, keys in hand. He asked “Why’d you turn off the game?” I say, “The flippers are dead, I lost 4 tokens already.” He turns the game on, adds a credit. And the Flippers. Are. Working. Fine. In fact, they worked great the rest of the night.
This gentleman took me aside and gently said, “Can I ask you not to play any more games tonight?” I was gutted. I had $10 in tokens in my pocket and I was just getting started on my lonely night. I sputtered and stammered and did a terrible job trying to explain myself. “Maybe there’s a bridge rectifier that’s marginal! That’s what my last 3 pin repairs were!” He didn’t believe me. I WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED ME.
I stepped out to cool down for a while and I saw him again. I asked him to check to see if there was a loose or nearly-broken wire on one of the coils. He wasn’t in a mood to talk to me, and who could blame him? He thought I was trying to scam some free games, AND I had turned off a perfectly good game.
By then, I was absolutely gutted. It was the first conversation I’d had in a month with someone outside work, a fellow pinball collector/enthusiast, but I’m in the doghouse. The loneliness of 4 months away from home is kicking in hard, and I’ve got a big knot in my throat. I went back in and played out my tokens, and to his credit he didn’t throw me out on my ass. The games, as usual, were perfect. JJPOTC was good to me, and I earned 1 free game.
On the way home on the train, I was super depressed. A young girl announced to the whole train that she was hungry, and after a long silence, I gave her $5. It made me feel a little better, but still. At work, I’m the oldest guy in my group by over a decade, desperately trying to fit in. I’ve got nobody here. I have my iPad and my AppleTV.
I want to thank the guy at Barcade for being sort of kind to me, even though he had no reason to be. And I’ll say that these are the best location games in Philly (there’s not much location pinball here).
1. Never turn off a location game for ANY reason
2. Please don’t assume someone is lying just because the circumstantial evidence is heavily against them.
3. There are a lot of lonely people in the world, and a little kindness means more than you can possibly imagine