The Pinball Machine

It sat there for years waiting to be played. It was out-shined by the flashier games with loud soundtracks and more interactive interfaces. Often times people would snicker as they walked by it, joking around about the last time someone played it.

It wasn’t anything worth writing home about and it didn’t necessarily make the arcade any money.

But it was a staple. It deserved the spot it had occupied for years, third machine in from the left. The machines it was flanked by would change regularly.

It had its place.

It’s not that it wasn’t ever played, actually it was played every morning when the owner came in and then again right before he locked the doors for the night.

Sure you could make the argument that there is no place for a pinball machine that doesn’t have anything to offer.

Sure there is a point to be made about the fact that each year less and less games are being played on it.

Last year the count was 730 games.

This year it’s on pace to maintain that number.

The owner felt there was still a purpose for this machine to stay on the floor and it wasn’t for his own selfish reasons.

The truth of the matter is that the pinball machine itself was representative of all the success the owner had. His first job was on the Jersey Shore working at a small bar on the boardwalk that featured this exact pinball machine in the back corner of the dimly lit venue, hidden in the shadows.

The owner never played on the machine and it taught him discipline. He learned all he knew about how to run a business because of that machine. Sure he cut his teeth at the bar but that machine taught him that if you offer something no one else does then that is a unique quality that will bring people through the door.

He saved for years and eventually bought the bar.

After a few more years of saving he sold the bar with the one condition that he gets to keep the pinball machine.

Then he opened the arcade with the pinball machine being put into a spot where it wouldn’t be featured but people would have to pay homage to it whether they knew it or not.

The pinball machine was a symbol of success. A constant reminder that the past will always teach lessons in the future. A reverent statement to the owner that keeping himself grounded allowed him the opportunity to grow into the most popular arcade in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The owner didn’t play the machine because he felt bad for it sitting there day in and day out being ignored. He didn’t play the machine because it took him back to the time that he spent working at that bar on the Jersey Shore. He played the machine because it taught him life lessons and was there for him throughout all of his success, failures and was the only reason he ever became the owner of the most popular arcade in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The owner knew the importance of the past. The owner knew that history set the foundation for the future. The owner knew it was easier to give up on the machine and put it out to the curb, but doing so would be against everything he stood for. Age isn’t an indicator of ability, it’s opening your mind and seeing what age brings with it instead of assuming it has nothing left to offer.


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