A few incidents involving actual Six Flags Over Mid-America guests:
SMELLS LIKE TROLL SPIRIT. Guests will return stuffed-animal prizes because they have holes, loose strings, stains, scuffs, ugly-looking seams, water-absorbent interiors, the wrong color hair, no eyes, no nose, no tail, no doo-hickeys on top of the feelers, or simply no class. But I never had a guest tell me a prize reeked until my second season on the job.
She's a woman who just keeps on playing Whack-A-Troll, stacking up stuffed troll prizes. On her first victory, she immediately puts the little plush creature up to her nose and snorts it like a dog getting acquainted with a new toy.
"Do you have another one?" she asks. "This one smells bad."
I take a whiff and find no foul odors. But I play along, handing her trolls and letting her smell them until she finds one that satisfies her nose. I have to bite my tongue to keep from cracking up.
"They smell like sawdust," she tells another guest. She wants to give them to some new babies in her family. I wonder if she'll ask them to smell them, too.
FULL FRONTAL? Guests walk into the Britannia games section after a soaking on Thunder River, and the ones who don't think about multiple layers of clothing unknowingly find they're putting on a wet t-shirt contest right in front of dozens of teenage boys -- and other guests.
Most people never say anything, including the Games workers, although some keep a joke tally on a prize-giveaway sheet in each stand, right next to the count of "Fat Men Wearing Spandex." Yet one day, a man and a lady walk up to a game, and the man issues a command as he hands three balls to her.
"And don't show your bloody breasts!"
No, he's not British. She isn't, either. But she's not wearing a bra. And at least she has the sense to keep her posture proper.
THE KIDS AREN'T ALLRIGHT. About 15 minutes before closing time, a couple of young hotshots wander up to my stand. One of them wants 50 cents to get something to eat. I tell them I can't do that, even though the kid claims he has a season pass, lives five minutes from the park, and will pay be back tomorrow.
"C'mon, you got billions coming into this place every day," he pleads.
"Not exactly billions," I correct.
"Not that much."
"Well, with everything put together, you do."
"Not that much," I repeat.
"This place bites," the other kid says.
"Then why did you get a season pass?" I query.
"Well," he stalls, "we didn't know until today that they raised the price of everything."
STICKY FINGERS. A guest walks up to me with the tag from a stuffed basketball wrapped around his finger. He'd been carrying it that way, and now he can't get it off. He asks if I have some scissors. I don't, but I know where to get some.
I turn to a co-worker and ask if she had any cutting devices. She starts cutting up into laughter when I tell her why I need it.
"Don't laugh!" I scold. "This is serious!" The man's finger is turning purple.
She and a supervisor hunt down some scissors in the backroom while I wait for this guy to collapse in front of me. Eventually the ball slips off before the scissors comes. His finger regains its normal hue, and all is right with the world.