Work Update: The Good, The Not So Bad, And The Photo Booth

in life •  2 months ago 

Slowly But Surely—Maybe

Next week will be my fourth month working. My last post about it was toward the end of August. I haven't written much about it lately, other than in passing, mainly because I don't know that people are that interested, and partly because I'm not sure if I'm that interested. Someone should be interested, or what's the point.

Well, I've been asked a time or two since how things are going, so I thought I'd provide an update.

Overall, I'd say things are going decent. I've managed to get into every machine or candy dispenser on all my routes multiple times now, except for one. It's a sticker dispenser with a different lock than any other one I need to get into and the key I have just doesn't want to let me in.

Other than that, I'm feeling good about collecting money and inputting the data from the counters into the collection app. If I can't find a counter or it's not working, I'm no longer sweating it that much.

I've been told by the owner of the business a second time now that he hears good things about it be. That led to another dollar raise, the second one since I started. I told the office manager that I'm going to be expecting a raise every month from now on because that's basically what's been happening. I'm glad that even though I'm still new and getting my footing that what I have been doing is enough to be of worth enough to them to pay a little more.

I've gotten pretty adept at getting coin mechs cleared of jams and bill acceptors up and working. Every now and then I run across one that flat out doesn't want to revive, but those are fewer and farther between. It's helpful to know what to try first, and if that doesn't work, try something else. It's when that trying something else gets to the second or third one that I tend to run out of options before the thing gets fixed.

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Speaking Of Which...

The business has a lot of different kinds of machines, from pinball to large arcade games. Among all this equipment are photo booths. I have at least four of them among the different routes I run. Periodically, they need ink and paper. So far, I haven't had to change any of them except one, and it took a good hour to figure it out on my own the first time around.

The second time happened this week. I figured I'd have little problem doing it since I knew how the paper was supposed to be seated and which way to stick the film cartridge in. If you pay attention to what the glyphs on the cartridge are trying to say, it's actually pretty straight forward. There's only one right way for the spindles with the four color film to go in, and there's only one way the cartridge will sit inside the printer.

I pretty much had that all ready to go within a few minutes. The problem was, the printer kept giving me error lights. Primarily with the paper/ink. Last time that ended up being the film was in backwards and upside down. That wasn't the case this time. I don't know how many times I pulled it out and put it back in, tightened the film, rolled it one way or the other, and any of a number of other little adjustments. Most of it didn't work. When it finally did, I was able to get it to print once (I was supposed to get two 4 x 6 prints but I only got one).

Sometimes Fixed Isn't Fixed

Thinking that it was basically okay, I left it. The next day when I went in, the large touchscreen inside the booth had the service information on it and the printer was back to showing a paper/ink error.

Someone had used the photo booth and then ended up leaving without getting their prints because of the malfunction. Not good.

I tried to fix it, but as I went about adjusting the paper and the ink, the automatic door started making grinding noises and wouldn't open. You push a button, gears move and the door releases out and down. Except, it didn't want to and now the alarm light was on, replacing the paper/ink. Instead of getting better, it was getting worse.

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At that point, I was starting to believe it wasn't a paper/ink problem at all, but something to do with the door. When it finally opened again, I looked to see if there was anything that might keep it from closing properly. Nothing obvious. I poked around in gears and holds and crevices and along smooth seams. Nothing.

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I turned the printer on and off multiple times. I unplugged and replugged in the entire photo booth. In the end, I ended up leaving it with the alarm light and the door not opening because I was late to the route.

That was Wednesday. When I went into the shop yesterday (Thursday), the officer manager asked about it. I told him what happened and I said I would like to try fix it again. He told me to take another look and let him know. So, after placing some ATM money in a couple of different locations, I went to work on the photo booth.

Well over two hours later (it may have ended up closer to three), the door wasn't grinding any more, I'd managed to print a couple more times, but not consistently. One or two, and then the error light would appear. Or the touchscreen would show the service message. I couldn't believe it. I even tried a different set of spindles and film thinking the other might be defective somehow. I got the same results.

So, what should be a simple task—swap out used film and dwindling photo paper for unused film and new roll—went from a five minute task to a five hour and counting ordeal.

Now Someone Else Has To Deal With It

The problem has been assigned to someone else now. I'm not sure how quickly they're going to get to fixing it, but as of earlier this afternoon, nothing had been reported on it. It's not a huge money maker, but it does enough business that I'm sure the company doesn't want it out of commission for too much longer.

I hope it's not too much trouble, but that it takes more expertise than I have at this point, or I'm going to feel even worse about it than I already do. It should have worked. That's all I know. Hopefully, I'll find out what the problem was.

How About Grandpa's Arcade?

Other than that, I do actually like a lot of the job. I've said that before. I don't mind troubleshooting or fixing things, either. I just don't like to waste a lot of time and end up not fixing anything. That I can do without.

In fact, I've been looking up the cost of different games and actually putting some serious consideration into some kind of arcade set up of my own. I'm not anywhere near at a point to start, and I don't think my present employer would appreciate that I did (I didn't sign a non-compete agreement when I was hired, though). I'm really not that interested in going up against them, anyway. The company's been around for 40-plus years and has locations throughout much of Oregon.

My 50-machine operation (that's the amount I've looked at), would amount to about one medium-sized route I have. Although, I'm not sure I want to put them in other locations like the company does. I think I'd prefer they all be in one place, which means maybe in a mall somewhere, or some office space. Location is important, and so is intent. I've noticed that not all places do well, like movie theaters, because people aren't there to play the games, or aren't necessarily wanting to hang around before or after the movie.

Pizza parlors and those kinds of food establishments work okay because the kids want to play the games while the food is being prepared. Bars are decent because the people there are looking for some form of entertainment, albeit more along the lines of music and pool. So, intent is important. And the experience has to be different than what you can get at home, for instance on a video console, computer, or phone.

I mention this only to say that despite some hours of frustration here and there, I'm enjoying what I'm doing enough to actually think about having some of my own machines, if I can get them financed somehow. Maybe in a year or two, when I know more about how to fix things.

One thing, though. No photo booths.

Images Sources—Here And Here

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Nice update.
Glad to hear about your progress.

Hey, @oldtimer.

Thanks. It's still kind of strange, after 6.5 years of not being employed and then 15 years of being self-employed before that to be working for someone else again, but hopefully I've learned a thing or two over that period of time so I can keep making progress. :)

"I need to get into and the key I have just doesn't want to let me in."

A little graphite sprayed into the lock might loosen it up. It works on ignitions.

If you have this much to say without any major complaints, I imagine that there is a lot to like in your. I started a job in February and I can't seem to write more than a paragraph or two without the post descending into me angrily ranting about the incompetence and often duplicitous behavior of the management lol.

Hey, @artisticscreech.

So, it's a barrel lock, that has a couple of pins or teeth in it that's supposed to line up with the notches in the key. I think the barrel of the key is kind of bent, so it's just not getting to where it needs to be.

In some earlier posts I did talk quite a bit about some communication issues. That seems to be the biggest problem so far. There's only the owner and the general manager, and the owner is there, but not really a part of the day to day operations.

And the general manager, in my estimation, just has too much to try to do, especially when there's different things going on all at once, which is commonly the case.

For the most part, I'm isolated from it since I pretty much work from my home. So, I'm hoping that as time goes on that I can help get the communication shorn up. But first, I just need to learn my job.

Mostly working from home would be nice, to be sure.

Yeah, it takes time to pick up on a new on job and even longer to get good at it. I am still in that learning stage in a lot of ways too. Most of what I do is easy enough. It is all putting stuff where it needs to go for the most part but there is also some clerical work that I am tasked with that can become a bit complicated if you don't know how to go about doing it.

My problem is too many managers but a lack of communication is also at the heart of it. I am frequently told to be at two different locations at the same time because two different managers have hatched their little (often poorly thought out) plans without consulting each other. I then must call one of them (usually the one that I'd like to work for more) so he can call the other and fight about who gets to use me. I should be promoted out of this "flexible" position in six to ten months from now but things are rather chaotic for the time being.

I used to work for a state agency, so I know about the levels of bureaucracy. Much prefer having only one to work with and try to figure out. :)

Well, I wish you well with the promotion out part. That sounds like it would be a better situation. Always has to be something. :)

  ·  2 months ago Reveal Comment

Howdy sir Glen! this is a great update on the job. Too bad about that photo booth, have you found out what the problem was? How much do machines cost? I know that's too broad a question...what kind would you want to have yourself if you ever set one up and how much do those cost? Hopefully it's the kind that never break down!

Hey, @janton.

I think the paper error problem with the photo booth has been resolved. Except, it's supposed to, according to the screen crawl that shows up when you're standing their deciding what to do, give out 2 4x 6 photos if you choose them, but it's only been printing one. I was told today that you have to pay more to get the other, but I don't think that's right, since I know the last time I changed the paper and made sure it worked, I got 2 4 x6 prints, so, I will probably need to continue to babysit or something.

This particular photo booth is pretty large, with lots of options for virtual backgrounds. A new one costs $25,000. There are much smaller ones, but they will still run around $10,000. They are not cheap, and as far as I'm concerned, they hold little interest, because you can take photos of yourself and others with your phone. If you want prints, you can take them to Costco. And each photo costs $6 in this particular machine. It's insane.

I created a list of 50 games I would get, which would be a mixture of crane, air hockey, pool tables, arcade style video games, basketball, pinball, shooting games, driving games, etc. The total cost for new ones would be around $325,000, which is a fair investment. :)

Holy cow! $325,000! Yeah that is a significant investment for sure! I didn't know pool tables were on your route. I thought people just played pool while they were buying drinks so the pool was free.

That photo booth is nutso in cost. It's pretty cool but wow. How big of a building would it take for 50 machines?

I think the pool costs either 75¢ or a $1, so no, it's not free, at least at the bars where we have them. Some might supply their own tables and allow you to play them for free, but generally, the cost gets added somewhere.

They're actually among the easiest to get into, and the counters are always where the money is, so it's literally one lock for everything. It's also a fairly simple coin mechanism, with fewer moving parts, and it's more mechanical, so it doesn't rely on power to credit a game.

So far, there's only been a couple of issues I know of with all the pool tables I collect and service—cue sticks needing tips, tables needing to have a new layer of felt, and every once in a while, a spring or some other thing will break, preventing the pool balls from flowing down where you can get at them.

People can be rather rough on the cue sticks, so that would probably be where more time and expense would be beyond the initial cost of the equipment.

Plus, people will want to have cue and hand chalk.

I was looking at a 1200 square-foot space, maybe 20 x 60, or even 30 x 40. Most of the games are small enough they can go side by side without much problem. The larger machines will need space for getting in and out of them, since you can either sit down on a bench or chair or ride something, like a motorcycle.

Oh the pool tables sound like a dream for an owner! lol. Well, when the price of steem goes up it can finance this new business if you decide to do it!