Wanna know the thing I’ve learned about this year that’s changed how I look at the world more than anything?
You know, the machines at bowling alleys that set the pins back up after you’ve knocked them down.
The thing about pinsetters is that they’re oddly difficult to get ahold of. In fact, most models of pinsetter haven’t been manufactured at all since the 1970s; the majority of bowling alleys get theirs secondhand, and competition for the increasingly rare supply of spare parts can be fierce.
You probably knew that there were once over a dozen different varieties of bowling that were popular throughout North America; what you might not know is that most of those varieties have gone extinct not because nobody is interested in playing them, but because the particular kind of pinsetter they require can no longer be obtained in sufficient quantities to keep bowling alleys in business. Indeed, the most common reason for a bowling alley to go under isn’t lack of customers, but having pinsetters that can’t be repaired when they break down because the parts and the institutional knowledge required to do so no longer exist!
Like, people will cross the planet to get their hands on replacement pinsetter parts. It’s like a goddamn post-apocalyptic scavenger hunt out there to keep these ancient contraptions in working order.
I’m sure it’s a metaphor for something or other, but hell if I can figure out what.