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Gary
Vollink.com
29 June 2005
Updated: 20 November 2018

Work, The Early Years

During High School, I got a job as a game technician working for Chuck E. Cheese, a Pizza restaurant and video arcade for kids.  For the most part, this meant a lot of crawling around on hands and knees, cleaning large mechanical games, and handing tokens out to kids who, 'lost a token in that.'  However, there was also a more detailed side to this job.  I occasionally got to get into the guts of games.  (More on that later).

Bad Career Choices

At no point did I ever even think of making a career of computers.  My father's QA work seemed possible, but computers were miniaturizing, and hand testing of assembled boards is a job that, even then, was shrinking.  I didn't know of anybody who made a career working on computers.  Only people who used computers to do their jobs.

I went to school for Mechanical Drafting.  I thought this to be an exciting field, and a stepping stone for later training to become a Mechanical Engineer.  I was excited because, these were the early days of Computer Aided Design and Drafting, and I got formal training in AutoCAD. 

Mechs, Triggers and Flux

Before the Chuck E. Cheese opened in the morning, if I was finished counting and bagging tokens, I could actually work on fixing games.  The contraption that sizes, and weighs coins, is called a coin mech.  One of these would go out, about one a day.  Triggers are the switches in a mechanical game that indicate a score or loss event.  Repairing and replacing Mechs and Triggers was well suited to my natural abilities.  I even got some professional experience on soldering (why designers put triggers on moving platforms, I'll never know... broken wires are a common result).

Data Entry

While I had a certification to work as a Mechanical Draftsman.  Jobs were fairly scarce, and it was difficult to find an interview, especially in South Florida.  I was very lucky that I knew how to type well and had kept up the practice, because my first professional job opportunity was doing data entry, this was back in 1993. 

When I finally got an interview for Mechanical Drafting work, I was already making two dollars more than what the Mechanical Drafting job was offering.
Obviously, I had gone to school for the wrong career.