Volume 1, Issue 45
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Ahhhh, it's April. Book averages are going in, and lanes are being certified. Big deal, some folks say, who cares about certifying the lanes? You see that sticker on the door, and aside from that, you don't think about it again. Well a year ago, I wouldn't have thought much about lane certification either. Then at my association open meeting, someone mentioned they needed volunteers to help certify lanes. Plenty of people were interested until they mentioned the 7:30 AM weekday start time. Heck, my schedule is flexible. Curiosity got the best of me, and before long I was driving across the Valley to be a part of the process.
Since local associations no longer check the lanes after an honor score, the certification process has become somewhat obscure to the average league bowler. I can remember the poor directors coming out at midnight to verify 300s during the mid-80s in their jammies and robes. That's all gone. But once a year, each house goes through an inspection process that is tough on the house, but even harder on the people who do it. Talk about a workout. Forget joining the club, or jogging, or using a Stairmaster. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving, and giving. Last year, it took about 3 days for the pain to fully manifest itself from the bending, kneeling, and standing the first time I volunteered. After that, I was careful to limit my up and downs. If I was seated, I did what I could to stay down, often scooching across the approaches on my backside.
Last year, I only certified the last four houses before they completed our association. And I've eagerly been waiting for the "certification season" to start up again. I will mention, that despite my eagerness, starting the morning after Daylight Savings began, on a Monday wasn't funny, but there I was in the parking lot at 7:30 AM eagerly awaiting my cohorts, large mocha in hand. The directors from ABC had promised to explain some of the things they check pinside this year, and I was ready.
Actually, looking at equipment you haven't seen in 9 months is a little disconcerting, but a few cues later we were on our way. Verifying the levelness of the foul lines took me all of fifteen minutes for a 24-lane house. I've done the measuring of the depressions on the lane itself, but two of the other women had already taken to the lanes recording that information.
So rather than have me stand around, one of the guys went back out to his car and returned with a hatchet-looking thing. I said, "Wait, I'll be good, I swear." Turns out this little device measures the depth of the carpets and the curtains to make sure they're legal. Carpets are the roller devices that move the pins to the back of the pit, and the curtain is the black part you can see from the approach that keeps the pins from flying out the back of the machine. He showed me how to do take the measurements on lane one and I eagerly marched down to the other end to get started.
Crawling into the first pindeck alone was a little claustrophobic. I was supposed to be comforted by the words, "The machines are always off, but if you hear the machine cycle on, jump IN to the pit, don't try to crawl back out. There's PLENTY of room back there." Let me say if you haven't pulled yourself along a smooth surface by your elbows, you haven't really lived. Perhaps someone shorter could manage to crawl in there, but I worked out a slide/pull system. I fumbled with the measurement device and eventually got lane 24 finished, and was moving to 23 when the entire contraption fell apart. Rather than admit I was a dope, I tinkered with it until it all slid back together. They could market this thing as a kids toy and it's bound to keep them better occupied than a video game.
I'm not sure what the damage from this week is yet. I only banged my head a few times thinking I was clear of the sweeps or the masking unit, but most of the dirt and scuffs washed off. I'm sure I'll be better prepared with my own set of elbow and knee pads to help cushion against some of the bumps. So next Monday, it'll be a different house, and again the week after. It almost makes me sad that we've got only a dozen houses in my association, because we'll be done in no time.