Wherever you find a pool table, you will find that someone at some time has abused the pool equipment to some degree. The vast majority of this is caused by ignorant people using the equipment for things and activities they were not designed to accomplish.
There is not much you can do about past abuse, except use the evidence to point them out to any beginners in your presence and how the damage affects the game for people using the equipment. When you do happen to observe actual abuse, raise your voice in protest (unless you happen to observe the abuse in a biker bar or other area equally dangerous to your life time.)
- Tapping the shaft against the table edge to knock off excess chalk from the cue tip (that they applied by digging and grinding into the chalk cube).
- Using the sticks for sword play by kids (and child-like adults).
- Placing the stick across the shoulders behind the head and then placing full weight of the arms at each end, which warps the stick.
- Grimy and greasy from players who were eating fried food.
- Left outside in the weather.
- Talc powder in the form of dozens of palm and finger prints.
- Loose cushions from people sitting on the rails.
- Loose or broken side panels caused when people tried to "lift" the table to see how heavy it was.
- Inexpertly applied nails to loose pockets which tear the skin when a hand is inserted.
- Cracked slates sometimes caused by kids jumping up and down on the table. (Once known to occur when a bowling ball fell on top.)
- Cloth tears and rips.
- Tables not leveled by inattention and sometimes by kids stealing the shims.
- Chips caused by bouncing the balls on cement.
- Chips caused by someone hitting it with a hammer to see if it would break.
- 20+ years of use and the table owner won't replace them.
- Balls used by kids to play catch.
If you are considering buying the table (maybe it's an antique), have a table mechanic check to see if the damage can be repaired and how much it will cost. You can use this as a bargaining point to further knock down the price.
If you know the owner, beg & plead to have at least some of the things fixed.
If the owner is an apartment manager, you will need to get a petition signed by 90% of the residents in order to either repair or replace the table. (If you take up this task, consider it a good way to get introduced to neighbors and possible new friends.) In the worst case where nothing can be done, accept the problems and get on with your games. Any table is better than no table.
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