Working, Playing and Letting Go

The Montreal Pinball Repair Blog Chronicles

 After work today I headed off to Mountain Sights road, off Jean-Talon just east of Decaire. There, adjacent to the Montreal SPCA lay my next service call, near car washes, cell phone providers, body shops and clothing liquidation depots. I have been to some odd places in my time to fix pinballs and so I am pretty comfortable with all sorts of off the wall situations, but this one still managed to take a chunk out of the service call cake.

Past tacky paintings of various domestic looking animals on the walls, I lugged my repair gear up two flights of stairs to a ratty looking waiting room full of sad looking folks with their sick pets. The receptionist had the most beautiful eyes however, and when I told her that I was called here to repair a pinball machine, they sparkled with positive acknowledgement. She led me through a side door which then funneled us past cages of animals, examination tables, and finally to an operating room where in a corner was a Segasa “MONACO”. I lay my tools down on the long stainless steel table which was just the right height to do the call. Pretty handy, and damn convenient I thought , but still weird. What was a noisy EM pinball machine doing in an operating room ?

Two hours later, the machine played and looked better than it probably had in a while as overall operation was restored to an enjoyable level. I then went off to get the receptionist who in turn fetched the vet to play a few games and then pay me. The only thing he asked was, did I have any animals at home and could we maybe exchange services next time. I replied that I had an old cat. He smiled, said that I could bring him in when he needed shots.

So now I had a vet, never really needed one, but if I do, that’s covered as well.  After lawyers, barbers, dentists, drug dealers, accountants, derelicts, doctors, car mechanics, hustlers, antique dealers and architects ready to barter services, I am still missing one important profession. Luckily for me everybody seems to like playing pinball, so it is only a matter of time before I get my fill. There is a small percentage of people who can’t bring themselves to appreciate this game,  those few oddballs who are too unimaginative to acknowledge that this life gig is short, brutal and sweet, and sometimes all at once. But who cares about those people, I have no interest in them, nor them in me. So just as the vet loaded up a needle to administer the big sleep to someones pet on that same stainless steel table from which I had now removed my tool box and supplies - I hurried out. And as I left, and made it safely down those stairs, I heard pinball chimes ring out through the night air, and I thought to myself that all I finally needed now was a service call in a funeral home.

I truly enjoy the fact that all sorts of people like playing pinball, - rich, dumb, poor, clever, annoying, smart, kind, mean and stupid - it is worldwide in a way. But due to less public exposure, and other things silly made popular in its’ place, pinball is slowly being forgotten. I still find it amazing how people have let themselves grow away from this life reflective game of chance and skill.

A loss of interest and a general frustration easily sets in with the average private pinball machine owner when it becomes difficult to find a reliable, accessible and competent repairman. This is perfectly understandable. Good pinball technicians are hard to sniff out and track down, let alone hang on to, since they are usually “cow-boyish” at best. When a good tech can`t be found, the hacks and the criminals usually fill in the void and show up to fix your pinball machine. At this point, the urge grows amongst most home pinball owners to sell off the bulky machine in order to terminate the frustration factor, - it is unfortunate to say the least, since these things are suppose to be fun. But on the flip-side, this situation can be good for collectors and people who have it as a hobby to bring these machines back to their original state and shine. These are the best caretakers in my opinion, since they will take the time (often at 10 cents an hour) to bring these machines back to their prime. The real danger lies in the fact that these malfunctioning machines also fall prey to the grasp of the greed heads and the hackers. When these machines get posted on Kijiji or Craigslist, that is usually when the screw-heads who understand nothing at all about being alive except getting their “fuck you” money out of others take over and and ruin the fun for everyone else . These parasites who think that making a whole lot of money in one shot is the goal of their sorry existence really just impoverishes  the hobby as a whole.

I strongly believe that making money is simply a consequence, or bonus if you prefer,  to what productive people do naturally - i.e. work and keep busy. I refuse to let money be the pivotal goal that defines a transaction between two people, when I have my say. And having money doesn’t make me believe for one single freakin’ second that one human being is worth more than any other, no matter how much the vile idea of “net worth” is pushed onto us by one-dimensional thinkers who dwell mostly in financial institutions. Making money is fun, but most dumb dumbs and greed heads will take it to obscene levels as their meaning in life. Their choices help to take away from the importance involved in building healthy business relationships without burning bridges. Their ugly and impatient greed also contributes in creating  prosperity gaps which inevitably leave bad feelings behind to fester as a consequence of their short-sighted thinking.Some people know what time it is, others simply don’t.

So I say, play pinball,  live the moment and let the other guy have his turn. And if it is a one player game,  just let the ball drain when the time comes, and move over to let some one else start their game.