Remembering Where All My Money Went

Somehow this post by Brian Lee about the pros and cons of vending-machines reminded me of how much money I wasted during my teenage years..

It’s truly stupid how much money I spent on these contraptions, but amazing now that I think about it. I cannot recall how I managed to afford it all!

"Now THAT is a Gun!"

Long before I started hard at looking for full-time work, I was a dole-bludger. This is an Australian colloquialism that refers to the multitude of people who simply live off a government pension without any thought of getting a job to earn money.

Unfortunately the dole or ‘government allowance’ is still available and another generation of people have taken over this role in society. What do they do with their spare time? Far less than you and I.

But I am not begrudging the journey I have taken to get to where I am now. Am I poor? Not really. Am I rich? Not at all. We’ve reached a stage in our finances where the necessary funds are available every fortnight to pay off the utilities, commodities, luxuries and the mortgage. (The mortgage could be covered under any one of the previous categories, but it needs to know where it stands!)

Yes, we have debts, their manageable, we survive. I’d like more money – but don’t we all? Actually, it’s not that I want more money: I want a job where I can utilise my talents and receive both monetary and praise-based recognition for said skills. Praise… but I digress, that’s another post.

What I started telling you was how much money I poured into slot-machines during my youth.

In 1987, I made that big move from a small town to the city 100klms away – Adelaide. I spent two years studying before a stupid decision (of my own making) lost me the best possibility of being a successful Architect. I like to think I could have been good. After all, there’s two generations of architects in the genes – I would have been the 3rd gen’. Sigh. Yes Dad, I am sorry. I too wish I had continued my studies. Would I go back now? No. I’ve got new directions and plans.

So there I was, alone in the “City of Churches” as it was then called. Back then, it was a dustball. Tumbleweed drifted down King William Street on a Saturday afternoon. Apparently Hindley Street was the place to be seen being seen – So I decided to find out all about it. I had a belief (which I still hold strong) that you cannot judge something until you’ve experienced it yourself. Too many people were telling me that “Oh, Hindley Street, it’s all drugs, it’s full of bikie-gangs, it’s dangerous late at night“. OK, they were right. It was. But only if you were stupid enough to introduce yourself to those people. They were certainly not out in the open. If they were, I was blinded by the pretty-lights to even notice them.

The most important place for any teenager in Adelaide was DownTown (now EARTH). That’s right, we had our own Xanadu. Up on the second floor was the biggest roller-skating rink I’d ever seen. Was. I have no idea what happened to it.

But back then, oh the noise, the adventure, the mirror-balls, the fun we had. Adelaide came alive on a Saturday night – and every teenager who could find a bus to town was enjoying life. DownTown also housed the biggest area of pinball machines. Imagine Jupiters Casino for midgets, without the craps tables, the chocolate wheel, nor the security.

And I was there, the world spinning around me, my pockets filled with twenty-cent pieces. The toggle-tables that two people sat facing each other, hands under under the glass, shooting fiery-blazes at the 1942 aeroplanes. I was a pro’ at that within weeks, my fingers had dimples from excessive button pushing!

Then the tilt-machines with flashing neon and colorful noise. I did well, I enjoyed getting those flippers to hit that ball back to the top of the board. Then we’d TILT, crashing or losing our investment. Too many times we’d find machines with broken glass from angry customers. No matter, someone replaced them, not our problem.

I filled them with hundreds, probably thousands of twenty-cent coins! But the mad thing is, I don’t regret it. I was young, possibly stupid and naive to the value of the dollar. We enjoyed living for the moment, having fun with what little funds available.

Twenty years on, I earn my money, and I can resist the urge to play these ancient games. No longer do I waste my money on such frivolity, but they raise a smile of a time gone by. We purchased a PlayStation 1 – and it now sits collecting dust. Nope, no PS2, nor PS3, not even an Xbox. I find no fascination, not any more.

But I do have SIMCity-4 on my PC as a reminder of when all that we knew was SimCity.

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