Tills come up short. Attendance comes up short. Guests try to win and come up short. All those problems are easily managed. But when personnel comes up short, the docile foreperson loses sanity and hair. When the Attractions shifts for the Ninja section run short on people, I'm in for an adventure.
August 17th, 1992: In one day, I work skeeball at one section, then the Great Escape arcade, then to the remote-controlled boats and cars for another three hours in the hot sun while the forepeople figure out how to manage staff, shifts, and breaks.
One foreman -- coincidentally named Chris -- and I work together at the Great Escape, both behind the counter while guests wave redemption-game tickets in our faces. Video games eat quarters. Tickets jam in the machines. Boom-ball games misfire or shoot blanks. Changers balk. The phone rings.
Chris steals from three change machines to keep another one running. I keep running out of quarters myself, much to the displeasure of the guests. Chris runs out of change to fill the machines. He calls another foreman for help, but that other foreman -- likely swamped himself -- doesn't show. Finally, Chris decides to go and get the change himself, leaving the entire arcade, with its guests, tickets, quarters, and problems in my hands.
"Anything I need to know before you leave?" I ask.
"Just don't kill any guests," Chris instructs me.
"I'll try not to."
"I've been trying not to all day."
While he's fetching the change, I get a call from one of the full-time specialists.
"Hey, Christopher!" she sings. "Is [she named another foreperson] there?"
"No, I'm the only one here," I say calmly. "We have no foreman, we have three changers down, I'm out of quarters, and we only have one person at Pac-N-Inn (the other arcade). We're in dire straits."
"Do you need a foreman?"
At this moment, I probably should've said, "No, I need Boy George." But I was too tired to be snarky. "We need something," I replied.
"Okay, I'll talk to [the same foreman who didn't bring the change]."
Good luck with that.
Finally, the delayed foreman makes it, shortly after the change does. Chris returns and avoids committing any felonies. For awhile, all is right with the Games universe.
Then a guest insists on redeeming 23 tickets for 23 cheap plastic rulers. Another guest brings up tickets and asks for 20 more, and I have to draw the line because it's going to clean us out. Again, we're coming up short.