Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poverty Attendant Part 1: The People

"Gift of the silver tongue.  It's the mark of a good suit salesman. . . and of a liar!"

I spent about 8 months of 2008 working at an arcade in a mall in suburban America. If you haven't been to an arcade in a mall in the past few years I wouldn't be surprised, but if you have you know that they have become the definition of poverty. It may have been minimum wage at a shitty arcade, but it was a pretty solid easy job up until the place closed. I mostly just read books and played portable games. I walked away from this little excursion with four A Song of Ice and Fire books read, a couple of dark knights in Final Fantasy Tactics for PSP, a vague idea of how to play Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and a lot of stories. 

Today I'd like to talk about some of the weird people that I came into contact with as part of the job. There was definitely no shortage of those; it was in a mall after all. There were the legends of this particular mall. Revolver Ocelot was a man that, as you might expect, looked like Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid. He had long, white hair pulled back, a brown pinstripe suit, and a mustache. He worked at Sears or something like that. Manwhoro was some sort of beastly looking probably woman.

I remember one occasion in which I was working where I saw a very confusing sight. The arcade was in the corner of the food court, so I could see people sitting down to eat through the windows. So, one time, right outside the arcade, I see this hillbilly-looking family sit down to eat, but there is something weird about them. One of the seats at the table is occupied by a taxidermied dog. It is weird enough that they had their stuffed pet in a mall that, as far as I knew, did not have a taxidermist, but they put him in a chair facing the table as if he was having a meal with them. I tried to discretely snap a picture of this baffling scene, but it sadly did not turn out.

Inside the actual arcade, you mostly see the sort of human stupidity you'd expect to see in an arcade or maybe a casino. All the time there would be people putting large bills into the change machine to pour that change into a game to knock quarters down to get tickets to get some worthless prizes(more on those in a later post). I could almost understand this if they were playing some sort of skill based game like skeeball or basketball, but Jungle Jive is pure luck. How much do you really get from sliding a quarter in the slot and seeing it bump another quarter? The Deal or No Deal machine was also a statistically stupid choice to play, but it made pretty much all of the arcades money, but at least that was almost an actual game.

There were a lot of instances in which I needed to tell people not to let their children do stupid or dangerous things. “No, ma'am, you can't put your toddler inside the cage of the basketball machine. Well, if he can barely lift a basketball, then maybe you should have him play something else.” That actually happened in real life, and I had to say that to a grown human being that was allowed to take care of a child. If a kid was left unattended and did something stupid it wasn't really their fault. Kids are stupid, it was something I expected from the job. I did not expect adults to be so severely ignorant and without common sense. On the upside, kicking out adults was always more fun because they'd get all indignant.

There is still a lot for me to say about my experience with arcade work, so I'm sure I'll write more.

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