There’s an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The Fever” in which a sensible woman and her curmudgeonly old husband – isn’t that always the case in TV? – win an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas. The sensible wife sees no harm in plunking down some spare change in the machine if, for anything else, just to have a little fun.
But her husband Franklin is against it and everything Las Vegas represents – until he catches “the fever” and starts to hear slots machines calling his name whenever they pay out. The machines get their way and eventually, Franklin starts to play them in the hopes that he will win the big prize.
He never does.
That’s kind of the way I was the other day when I took the family out to have some pizza for lunch.
The restaurant had a skill game called Barber Cut Lite, a game in which prizes are suspended from strings. In order to win, players must a) align the cutting mechanism properly so that it is inside the “scissors” and b) cut at the right time.
I don’t know why I had to try it but I did. It was probably that shiny iPad Air inside that made me do it, which makes no sense since it was only 16GB and my current iPad is 64GB. Why would I bother to try and win this?
Oh, that’s right. For $1 a play, why not? I could have a brand-new iPad for only a buck! This stupid machine just kept taunting me with that iPad helplessly hanging there, calling me.
And I eventually became Franklin.
The first few tries were “so close” with me almost getting the string aligned with the cutters.
“Okay okay, now I have it. I have it.”
So I reach into my wallet and grab another buck. I put it into the machine, the music starts to play, and I make my move yet again.
This time I had it aligned and inside the cutters. Thinking it would cut automatically, I raised my hands in victory knowing I had defeated this stupid, stupid machine.
That’s when I realized that it wasn’t so easy. If you have the string aligned just right so that they enter the cutters, your next job is to time the cut properly. See, I knew it couldn’t have been that easy.
I had more singles in my wallet and tried again, knowing what I had to do. A few more tries later, I sure had it aligned properly but the cut came up short. Much like Franklin, I had to give it yet another try.
This continued for about another five minutes but they sure seemed like an eternity with me carefully watching the mechanism move from left to right, then forward, then the cutters doing their thing and missing nearly every time.
What makes matters worse? There’s a huge disclaimer on the front of the machine stating that the first cut may not break the string. In other words, you may spend a day just to get it aligned right but cutting the string may only weaken it. If you want to win it, you’d have to get everything just right all over again.
While I’m sure it’s possible to do it, by this time I had had enough and the family was starting to worry about my mental status. Besides, I had run out of dollar bills and ended up dropping 12 of them into this stupid machine. I’m sure if I had a few more left, I could have won that stupid iPad.
Or I could have ended up like this guy.