Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It Is Written (Up)

It's all fun and games until one of the Six Flags Games people breaks the rules, or they get on the wrong side of some foreperson's ego, or they become a target on somebody's list. Working in Games parallels what we would later call Survivor, where the object is to outwit, outplay and outlast, or just good-old-fashioned high-school politics. Get out of line, and you get "written up."

I quickly learn the regulations count for no more than 50 percent. When I work my first shifts in the Old Chicago section, I find out their forepeople have little margin for error, or a miniscule sense of humor. People get written up for taking the top off a water cooler to get some cold ice for their drinks. Maybe that explains why others are begging me to work their Old Chicago shifts.

At one point, I see this sign in Britannia's backroom:

--Taking the lid off the water cooler
--Talking to a fellow distressed employee
--Having any fun at all?


Later, when word gets around about O.C.'s reputation for write-ups, the forepeople try to write everybody up as a joke as their sense of humor finally emerges.

Some people get written up arbitrarily. Some people commit felonies under management's sight line or get a pass. It's life. It's Games.

In June 1992, I find out a newbie gets written up twice and chewed out once in the same day, at least one for questionable circumstances. The first is for a black shirt under a white uniform. That's understandable, even though one can hardly see the black shirt, anyway. The other is for throwing a wiffleball across the section from one stand to another, although nobody seemed to notice all the throwing going on between stands yesterday. The chew-out is for letting a non-Games employee shoot a basketball at long Range, never mind that Security officers do it all the time, along with forepeople.

"Start keeping book on people," I tell him.

He whips out a notebook. "I already am. I think that's why I'm getting all this [bleep]."

I advise him to wear a tape recorder, if he can.

About a month later, I talk to him again, and he opens up his notebook. What I read is detailed and damaging. More than anything, it documents the antics of one particular foreperson for:
  • Staging a "puppet show" behind a fence in Britannia using prize plush animals, and throwing ice and water over the fence to observe the reactions of guests standing in line for Thunder River
  • Yelling at a Green Tag for counting his till in the backroom without permission when he didn't need to ask for it, because he's out of sight of guests
Fortunately, he wouldn't have to be anybody's problem much longer, and I play a role in his downfall.

At the end of one shift, I'm counting some change, stacking those notorious Susan B. Anthony dollars into neat little pile. Along comes Mr. Foreperson, who starts messing them up, insisting on counting them himself. I insist he stop.

"Don't you trust me?" he says.

"I'll take the fifth," I reply as a joke.

"[Bleep] you," he spits back.

"You can dish it out, but you can't take it," I say, and I recount how he comes up to me at Ring-A-Thing one month ago, screaming in my ear as I was bent over, trying to pick some rings up off the floor.

"Achhhh... easy!" I groaned. "I have hearing loss in both ears!" (I'm not sure that I actually did, but days upon days of loud games, loud guests, this loud foreperson and the realization that other people can talk to each other clear across the section and understand each other while I can't led me to this conclusion.)

"Well, then it shouldn't have hurt you," he grinned.

"It sure doesn't help it!"

He still thinks it's funny, one month later, especially since I tell him I've documented it all in my journal.

This incident might've evaporated, had it not happened within the earshot of a supervisor. The loud-mouthed foreperson is canned within hours, if not minutes. Finally, justice prevails.

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