Even in famously polite Japan, some gamblers just don’t have any manners.
We recently spoke with an ex-McDonald’s Japan employee who clued us in on which orders are the most aggravating for the staff of the fast food chain to prepare. Today, we’re looking at another part of the Japanese service sector, one that entices not with cheap, convenient food, but the possibility of quick, easy riches.
Mr. S (who we’re calling that to protect his identity) recently finished a roughly two-year stint working at a pachinko parlor in Chiba Prefecture. But while the gamblers had their eyes glued to the bouncing balls and computer graphics in front of them, Mr. S was watching them, and now he’s ready to share his list of the three worst types of pachinko parlor customers.
3. People who hit the machines
“Look, I get that it’s frustrating when you’ve been sitting there for a long time without hitting a jackpot,” Mr. S empathetically admits. “But when I saw customers pounding on the machines, I couldn’t help thinking they’re not right in the head…Sometimes they’d even crack the glass on the front of the unit, and they’d run off before we could confront them about it.”
It wasn’t just excitable young adults that would violently vent their frustration, either. “I saw people the same age as my grandparents beating on the machines,” Mr. S recalls. “It made me feel sad and empty inside.”
2. People who bring their kids to the pachinko parlor
In recent years, some fancier pachinko parlors have been trying to clean up their image with non-smoking sections, and some even have a monitored kids area. The establishment Mr. S worked at, though, had no such luxurious amenities. Nonetheless, some customers would show up with young children in tow. “The parlor was always filled with cigarette smoke and the racket of the machines. It made me wonder if gamblers who’d put their kids in that sort of environment are really even human beings.”
Another source of frustration came when the parlor would put in new machines. In order to secure a spot at one, hard-core pachinko players would start lining up as early as five hours before the parlor opened, and sure enough, some of them had their kids with them. “That really got to me,” Mr. S says. “There were even some seniors who’d stand in line with their grandkids.”
It’s a bit of a stretch of the definition of “customers” to apply that label to people coming into a pachinko parlor with the intent to win by illicit means, but all the same, Mr. S says cheaters are the worst sort of people a pachinko parlor can have come in the door.
“We only had one incident in the time I worked there,” he tells us. While it’s harder to cheat with modern, digitally operated machines, a few of the units in Mr. S’ parlor were older, analog types. One day, a group of five men came in and started stabbing at the analog machines with sticks, trying to trigger their sensors to make the machine think a pachinko ball had dropped into a winning slot and thus start paying out. “My boss ran them out, but as he was chasing after them, he got punched right in the face. In the end, I think the police only caught one of the guys.”
But even with all that, Mr. S doesn’t regret his time working in the pachinko industry. “It’s not an easy job, but there were a lot of young people on staff, and we had fun while we did our work. I’ve got good memories of my time there.”
[ Read in Japanese ]