Sunday, September 16, 2007

You Have to Have Goals

The wifely friend is driven. She has near-term and long-term goals. She has a planner. She knows what Franklin-Covey is. I thought it was a Peanuts character. She has goals like "become an executive by 35" or "save money". And--this is the amazing thing--she actually does them.

For me, goals are a little less impressive. For a long time they were along the lines of "eat the biggest sandwich possible", "try not to sleep past noon more than three days a week" or "juggle".

One goal I've always had, though, was very simple: "own a pinball machine".

It's not the most ambitious goal, and it sure isn't the most sensible one. No job interview is going to swing your way because, "Sure, boss. The other guy was valedictorian at MIT, but this guy has his own pinball machine. I bet if we hire him we get to play!" No supermodel ever dated a guy solely because he had a Twilight Zone machine in his basement.

There are only about four pinball machines I've really wanted to own, and they're all Williams machines. Williams made the best machines, and abruptly stopped making them in the 90s, when pinball just couldn't compete with video games any more. They turned to making lucrative slot machines instead. The four machines I wanted were: High Speed, Earthshaker!, Black Knight 2000, and Indiana Jones.

For years I'd talked about getting a machine, but I felt like it was a little selfish. I mean here is this giant machine that's going to take up space in the garage, cost a fair bit of money, and monopolize a lot of my time. Every year, I'd go to California Extreme, which is a pinball and video game show in San Jose, play eight to ten hours of pinball, and come back all revved up to get a machine. Months would pass, and I'd let my goal drift away. But after this year's show, the wifely friend said "Jeez, will you just buy one already?!"

And so I did. I won an auction on eBay for a Black Knight 2000 machine. It needs a little bit of work, like replacement of the lower display for player 3 and 4 scores, but it plays great. My good friend Chimmychanga helped me pick the thing up and drive it back home. Even brought along his reciprocating saw and helped me carve my workbench in half to make room for it in the garage. Actually, he did most of the work.

But now I've finally got a pinball machine. Reaching a goal, you cant beat it.


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