Mark Czarnowski of illini pinball association has reached a time in his life when he’s ready for the ultimate pinball adventure: Operating.
Matt Walsh helps us live that first time all over again…..
There is that magic feeling of doing a collection that people who haven’t experienced it can’t really understand.
There is that moment that you approach the game just before you unlock it. You kind of look it over as if you can tell if it got played a lot. Well, and also you’re looking to see if it’s working because if it isn’t, you know it won’t have much in it.
Then you unlock it. Maybe a latent quarter or two clinks down that was stuck somewhere to greet you. Maybe a little shower of stuck quarters rains down from a coin mech, and you momentarily curse the American stone-age coin mechs that haven’t changed in 50+ years in comparison to the much more reliable Euro ones.
You kind of make your first assessment visually…maybe you shake the coin pan a bit. And then you start counting. Anyone that’s worked in an arcade can grab a handful of quarters and tell you what $10 feels like. So you run your fingers through the money – dirty money, sure – contaminated by countless hands – but money nonetheless – each an anonymous vote by someone expressing appreciation for your equipment. A brother or sister you’ve never met that liked the game you bought and placed in hopes that they would. Maybe someone played one game and walked away. Maybe there are 10 quarters from one guy that plays every day. Who knows! Actually, sometimes you do know when a die-hard fan talks to you during a collection and embarrasses you saying how many of those quarters are ‘his.’ Yeah, right. They *were* his.
Not to mention, it’s cash – untraceable, pure and simple income big brother doesn’t need to know about and has no way to find out about. Freedom. The way George Washington, whose head is scattered inside, would want it.
Though maybe they’re not all George. Maybe there’s a Canadian quarter in there, and when you see it you get a tinge of insult; fraud’s ugly specter robs your joy for a moment. Maybe somehow a nickel made its way through, though you know it didn’t register a credit. It’s a fallen world; all *have* fallen short of the glory of God, even pinball patrons.
These are the feelings I remember, collecting quarters out of my Target Alpha (and later Space Invaders pinball) in 1988 in college. Average earnings were around $2 a day for TA and $5 for SI. That I could then buy food and drink (or beer) with this magic money I would not otherwise have…wow. –Matt Walsh
photo by Don Starnes
Musee Mechanique at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Thank you to Matt and Mark for sharing their experiences. Best of luck to Mark. Stop by Quality in Champaign, IL and play his games. Don’t forget to tip your bartender!