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On watch in Wilbur's

Randy Metcalf/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Chris Perling, a Wilbur's Underground employee, shows off his skill with toy guns. The guns are part of an arcade game that Perling is responsible for maintaining during his graveyard shift.
By Blair Lazarus
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday August 29, 2003

The games last until 4 a.m. for Chris Perling, a junior who loves photography, has played professional golf and once rented a Mustang for an entire summer.

If you're a Wildcat with an affinity for late-night pool, ping-pong or good old-fashioned arcade games, chances are you'll meet Chris Perling.

A second year student from Phoenix, Perling stays up all night every Sunday and Tuesday in Wilbur's Underground to make sure the gaming doesn't stop until 4 a.m.

Perling's duties as an Underground employee include spending the night helping patrons unstick balls from the pool tables, making change, giving out cues and keeping everything under control.

Despite the late hours, Perling said working in Wilbur's Underground is "the easiest job on campus" and that he doesn't have problems staying awake, at least until the last hour.

The hardest part of the job, Perling said, is that when it is less busy, he must listen to the music of the Dance Dance Revolution machine over and over.

While some may think that a student up that late on school nights must not be very dedicated to academics, such is not the case with Perling. Although this is only his second year on campus, he already has junior standing because of International Baccalaureate (IB) credits, summer school, and classes he took at Phoenix College during high school. After graduating fourth in his class from North High School's IB program in 2002, Perling came to the UA because of a scholarship and because it was far away but not too far away from home.

Although he received a scholarship to play for the UA's golf team, Perling was unable to accept it because last summer he turned pro, playing in two tournaments in the Albany, N.Y. area. He stayed with family and with his winnings rented a Mustang for the summer. He came home with about $20 and a great story.

As a chemistry major and photography minor, Perling uses any late-night down time to look at notes for his chemistry lab. After earning his chemistry degree, Perling plans to apply to Pharmacy school or go into pharmaceutical research.

Perling's interest in photography began six years ago when he became involved with his high school's photo program. He specializes in black-and-white photography, and for his thesis last year, he used a fish-eye lens to create special effects.

"I would concentrate on a person's eye, so that you could see their whole body, but the eye was the main focus," Perling said.

Since he came to the UA, Perling has broadened his interests last year he even tried to start a hookah club on campus, but it fell through in the end. Now he's trying to promote the Underground Pool League, which another employee is trying to start.

The league is open to all students, who, for a minimal fee, may participate in regular tournaments and play to improve their game.

Perling began working at Wilbur's Underground after he spent much of last year playing pool and games with his friend, civil engineering sophomore Ken Core, until the wee hours of the morning.

Among the things that he likes about the job is its proximity to Pima Residence Hall, where he is living for the second year in a row.

Perling said some other advantages of working on campus include a free small drink before every shift and an employee card that gets him special discounts around campus on things including food.

Another perk allows Perling to really make himself heard: A microphone that he uses to remind patrons of important rules, including not sitting on the pool tables.

Although he has only worked four nights in the Underground, the hours Perling has put in to keep the game room open have been appreciated.

"Its great that it's open so late, and that's why I've been coming," said Brandon Smith, a Tucsonan who was using the Dance Dance Revolution machine to practice for an upcoming tournament in Tucson and Phoenix.

Chris' friendly demeanor has also put a smile on gamers' faces.

"Chris is a total sweetheart," said Stefanie Bauman, a family studies and human development sophomore.

So if you find yourself looking for something to do around campus late at night, head down to Wilbur's Underground and visit Chris Perling he'll be up.

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