Well, actually, that is a bit of a misnomer. Arcades are on the comeback. It ain’t what it were back in the ’80s but it’s better than it’s been since the boom-bust of nineteen hundred and ninety-four. Still folk with that there arcade yearnin’. Some old timers call ’em hipsters but I call ’em good young’uns. Cuz they help pay the bills or pay on ’em, anyway. Keeps the porch light a-flickerin’.
Sure, I dabble on the family farm but I’d rather get paid to fix arcade machines than get paid to not grow tobaccy. I do a little farmer’s market on the side, but my heart ain’t it no more. I’m just there cuz it’s the best spot to hear firsthand news about arcades about to open up. Overlapping clientele and all.
It ain’t so bleak these days. For years all that kept me afloat was Mr. Gatti’s. Got to where I can’t stand the smell of their cheese sticks. Haven’t touched one this century. Never could get none of that Chuck E. Cheese business. They got a special outfit fixes theirs. Hard out here for a freelance arcade repairman not part of any kind of outfit. Got nothing against unions though. My daddy was a union man. My momma was a union lady’s auxiliary treasurer. She ran the bake sale. Kept that picket line on a sugar high. Til the diabetes kicked in.
I been pondering over taking on an apprentice for some time. Getting weary in these old joystick twiddlers. Hip ain’t been the same since that skeeball accident. But truth told there still ain’t near enough arcades to go around and I can’t help thinking I’d just be training the man or woman to replace me.
Course I said woman. Ain’t no rule a woman can’t fix an arcade machine. Hell, arcade repairing’s the most progressive repairing I know. Consider Bentley Bear in his Crystal Castles. Good gay fun.
But if you are indeed serious about this here line of work, and you say you is, then I might have a proposition for you. Say I take you on at four dollars an hour. I know that ain’t legal wage and the hours are mighty irregular but you’d get to keep the change you find in the slots. That ain’t quite on the up-and-up, neither, but repairmen know better than to ask permission and arcadesmiths know better than to question it. Quick way to find all your coin slots chocked full. Hell, why you think at least one controller in every four character fighting game is broken? That’s cause some fool behind the counter didn’t mind their own damn business.
I usually break Donatello. Won’t touch none of the more popular characters unless someone does me bad. I’m sorta generous I guess.
How that sound to you? Alright? That’s fine. Yeah, you can keep on drawing that unemployment check. This is all under the table, pardner. I ain’t even got myself a business card. Just one more thing to go over before we spit in our palms and shake on it. (Don’t worry, I got some hand sany right here.)
That there’s a quarter. That there’s a Asteroids. Show me what you got. I need to see you shoot straight.
pew pew pew pew pew KA-BOOM
Just might do.
Lee Blevins – 9.5.2018