Lessons from the Arcade

Nontraditional ThanksgivingsThis Thanksgiving weekend we continued our traditional nontraditional Thanksgiving celebrations by going to a casino.

Nothing says, “grateful” like two parents with two picky children at an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet.

Seriously, I admit this trip was a bit unconventional, even for us. But we just wanted to get away. And I wanted to check out some awesome Christmas lights, which happened to be just a short drive away. And the casino had a great swimming pool and hot tub. Not to mention there was an ice cream shop close by. Because nothing saves a family getaway like a pool and ice cream. Trust me on this.

The casino also had an arcade, so underage children have something to do while their parents gambled. Our kids are too young to be left unsupervised, so we spent a lot of time at the arcade with them. It turns out, I’m still decent at pinball and not too shabby at air hockey.

I’m pretty sure this is my kids first experience with a real arcade (if Chuck E. Cheese doesn’t count), so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that there was a learning curve involved.

Lesson 1: Toy Vending Machines are Slot Machines for Children

The arcade had a row of those toy vending machines, where for 50 cents, you can poison you children with lead-tainted jewelry and gumballs. My daughter, who didn’t enjoy Dance Dance Revolution as much as she thought she would, soon turned to these magic machines where for the same 50 cents she could get a toy. Her toy of choice was a yellow plastic person holding one of four sports balls: soccer ball, football, baseball or basketball.

She put in her quarters and (MAGIC!) got a yellow plastic person holding a football. WHOO HOO!

My son watched her, and decided he MUST HAVE a yellow plastic person holding a baseball. Because he loves baseball, you see. So he put his money in and got a yellow plastic person holding a… soccer ball. Okay, not what he wanted, but not bad. Soccer is okay.

He tried again. And he got a yellow plastic person holding a… soccer ball.

Bummer. That’s okay, he’s got another 50 cents burning a hole in his pocket. So he tries again…

And gets another yellow plastic person holding a… soccer ball.

What are the odds, I ask?

My daughter, noticing her brother now has three yellow plastic people and she only has one, digs into her own stash for another 50 cents and gets… nothing.

The machine breaks.

(No I didn’t break it. Unless I have death-ray vision. Which I don’t. But I would have TOTALLY used it on that machine if I did. Just saying.)

So for a total of $2.50, we are now the proud owners of FOUR crappy plastic yellow people holding sports balls, none of which are the desired sports ball. My husband and I spend some time explaining to my disappointed son how much money he just wasted getting exactly what he didn’t want and how that is similar to the people down the hall spending their hard-earned money at the casino not getting what they want either.

Lesson 2: It’s Like Taking Candy from a Baby

My daughter’s next discovery was the Candy Crane, which for another 50 cents will deliver you a scoop of terrible Brachs hard candy interlaced with a few desirable chocolate mini candy bars. This game was surely a winner, we thought, because it guarantees that you play until you win!

It took three tries before my daughter won her first prize with this machine… which resulted in one apple Jolly Rancher and one root beer hard candy. If you do the math, that’s 25 cents each for candy that’s worth about 2 cents apiece.

It turns out she doesn’t like apple Jolly Ranchers either. Whoops. Make 50 cents for one tiny root beer candy. Yum.

This scene repeated itself several more times, until we finally walked away with about 35 cents worth of candy for $4.50.

The moral of this story is you should totally invest in the vending machine business. I am.

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This entry was posted in It's My Life, Things You Won't Find in Parenting Books. Bookmark the permalink.

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