I mutter bitterly under my breath as the claw machine I’ve been glued onto for the past hour or so continue to deny me my coveted prize. This time, it almost came through, but not quite. The truth is, it has been more than an hour. A lot more. Yet, I show no signs of resigning myself to my apparent fate.
I remember walking into the arcade all those years ago, lured by the attractive images of prizes of all shapes and sizes. I wanted to win them all. Plonk. Down goes a penny for a shot. The claw lurched down, urged on by my manipulation of the joystick. My eyes lit up as it grabbed onto the first object it could find. It was a small, furry toy — not exactly the grand prize I was looking for, but a symbol of things to come.
Clearly, it wasn’t that easy.
Beginner’s luck deserted me all too quickly, and the next few attempts yielded nothing. I remained resilient… initially. Perhaps I just needed to angle the claw a little bit more here, a little bit more there. My patience yielded 1 in 10, but patience soon turned into frustration.
I started blaming the prizes. Were they too smooth to be properly gripped? Were they too large, and God forbid, too ambitious? In some attempts, I thought I’d made it, only to watch in horror as my prize evades me yet again, by a fraction of an inch. Perhaps my frustrations were justified; perhaps the buck doesn’t have to stop at me; and, just perhaps, the game was rigged — rigged by pre-programmed marginal chances of success by picky manufacturers. I scoffed. Of course it wasn’t the full picture. Silly me. I was just as responsible for sharpening my skills. I looked at my pocket — I’m running out of change. Ah, the imbalance between time and second chances.
I should look for another claw machine, but choice is very, very finite. The cashier at the counter checks her watch and looks on in disinterest. I take out the last note from my wallet and walk towards her. Maybe there’s time after all.
“Got change for a fifty?”