the arcade

so amongst my rambling last post, i managed to not include the funniest and most interesting part of rachel and i's journey around soho.

after we'd come out of maoz, i spotted the 'amusement' arcade across the road, and because being a grown up is all about being able to make decisions for yourself (ha!), i asked if we could go in to play pinball. we went on the pirates of the carribean one this time (last time ed and i played the lord of the rings one), and we did okay, rachel doesn't seem to have played ever before and considering i didn't explain the fine physics of it, she was alright. after our go, she wanted to go on the coin pushing machines. there was no stopping, or reasoning with, her. i started to feel very confederancy of dunces all of a sudden. "they probably push them all back every night" i said. but it was no good. i stopped myself before i completely ignatiused out everywhere and let her have her 'fun'.

i made her at least use some sense and go for the far left unit, where they were obviously in more of a state where you could imagine they might fall than the other two. she put a ten p in, to no effect. on her second however, a remarkable thing happened; it worked. some coins fell off the top row, a couple of pushes later and the knock-on effect had forced the row below right to the edge and omfg the coins were falling. clatter clatter they went, down the silvery dark hole at the front. i couldn't believe it. sure, i had stats on my side but she'd gone and won.

as we bent down to collect our winnings ('our' winnings now), i noticed i was finding it difficult to get the coins out of the hole at the back. in fact, it was difficult to feel any coins at all. in fact, an impartial observer, who had not just seen and heard the coins, might wonder what exactly we were doing down there because there were clearly no coins to pick up. when we came to our senses, wondering now if indeed any coins had actually fallen down at all and it wasn't just some kind of random hallucination, we decided to ask the attendant for our money (lebowski). she pawed pathetically at the security locked machine and said there was nothing she could do. we heckled her a bit, and she said she'd get the manager, which could take five minutes. rachel wanted to leave, but now i was digging in. this is their scam right here, we figured, and i thought it not too much to just hang around a bit.

EVENTUALLY a woman in *white* came out, and in broken, beyond-accented english, she tried to explain what might have happened. i can't remember much of what she said, but she seemed to be implying that this was somehow normal or reasonable, and sometimes, if you rock the machine like this - and she pushed the machine backwards, making sirens ring out and lights flash - then the money goes into a separate place. no, we explained again, we put the money in, more money fell down, but it didn't appear. ok, she said, she'd get the engineer, but it'd be ten minutes.

we had too many questions after she'd left. they need an engineer to open the damn thing now? what if her rocking the machine back had caused the alarm circuit to trip, which we hadn't done, but it would reverse-legitimise us not getting our money since it would be recorded in memory that it had happened. obviously someone would have noticed the alarm go off.

so this is their scam. if you actually get any money, you don't get to touch it, and you get increasingly severe attempts to put you off. we hung around for about five minutes, mooching around looking at the various gambling machines. i had to persuade rachel not to go on any of - what would be the point of giving them the money straight back, before we'd even got it? the situation got more and more political between us the longer we waited; she accused me of only wanting to stay so that if she left i could say 'it was you that walked out'. i genuinely wanted to hang around and see what would happen if we did. would the mythical engineer ever turn up? ten minutes is an impossible time; either he's on-site, or he's miles away, right? so either they're making us wait needlessly, or they're getting our hopes up only to be crushed. after some time, even i began to falter. perhaps we'd made our point, and leaving now would inconvience them the most, also sending the message that we didn't want to hang around in their crappy arcade, even for the money that we had won. after some more time, rachel simply walked out without any more todo. so we'll never know. but at least i got an anecdote out of it.
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