and Mesa Verde, leave your attitude at home. This is his turf. And to
abuse the lanes is to disrespect him.
The 29-year-old father of three has watched many bowlers come and go. But
those 40 lanes are like his babies. And he will do whatever it takes to
make sure all 10 pins are set up correctly on each of them.
THROUGH THESE GLASS DOORS
Once inside the building, bowlers can find a full-service snack bar,
lounge, arcade and pro shop. Bright orange plastic chairs from the early
1960s are arranged throughout and the scorecards are still just that --
cards, not automated gadgets.
Mosaic tiles in pink, brown and gray adorn the front entrance. And Lotto
machines, The Claw and soda fountains line the walls.
But the biggest attraction at the alley isn't visible to patrons.
Contreras' main duties take place behind the wall at the end of each
60-foot, oil-slicked lane.
NUTS AND BOLTS
The large machines responsible for moving downed pins, strategically
putting them back in place and returning bowling balls to players are
maintained daily by Contreras and his three-man crew.
"These machines are over 4 years old, so we do a lot of maintenance and
cleaning," said Contreras. "It's like a car."
Contreras estimates that each machine operates on 1,500 to 2,000 parts.
Support castings, pin cups, pit supports, pin guides, trip rods, pulleys,
spotty fingers, ear cushions, clutch plates and sleeve distributors are
just a few.
"I'll do anything to make them run," he said. "That's just the way I am."
Each machine has nine switches and a bundle of wires. But just like the
ocean demands respect from swimmers, the machines require careful
OUCH!Contreras has worked bowling alley maintenance long enough to
know that all switches need to be turned off before entering a machine.
But even pros can make mistakes.
One day Contreras attempted to dislodge a jammed ball from a machine when
another ball careened down the lane. Seconds later, he was in the
emergency room with a broken finger. Luckily, it was his first and only
injury so far.
"It was nothing," Contreras said. "I was doing my customer service. I do
the best I can to keep these things running, because it's all about the