For two seasons at Six Flags Over Mid-America, my brother Michael (four years my junior) also did a tour of duty in the Games section. Sibling rivalry chugged along at that time, meaning I'd find ways not to end up in the same section with him. But I couldn't beat the odds all the time.
May 29, 1992: We end up co-spieling Churchill Downs. I came up with a system where I would call half the race, and he would pick it up at the halfway point. One of the forewomen caught a glimpse of us.
"It's family entertainment!" she cried, calling it nearly "heartbreaking" to see us working together.
About a month later, two foremen conspired to get us back together again, this time having us start the day together at a different racing game involving water pistols. I'm sure they weren't thinking we'd turn the guns on each other -- which we didn't do, by the way. When your kid brother annoys you as a teenager, work is supposed to be an escape from home life.
"He's not that bad," one of the foremen snickered.
"You don't have to live with him," I replied. "He's got an ego the size of New York."
"Look, out here you're just co-workers, not brothers."
Mike was going on break anyway, so it didn't last long, to my relief. When I heard my brother opening announce to guests that they may squirt me -- joke or not -- I think we're headed for trouble.
We'd end up working a few other stands in the same section, but his hours and my hours didn't usually line up. I would often grab early shifts, and he would get nightside gigs, or the reverse. The way things worked out, we didn't see as much of each other as you would think. And graciously, he kept me out of the gossip loop and vice-versa.
Or does he?
One time when I'm walking into the backroom, he's talking about kicking somebody's butt later on. When he turns around and sees me standing right behind him, his face pales and he leaves the room.
On a busy Sunday, one girl asks why Mike isn't there.
"It's his day off," I reply.
"How did he manage to get Sunday off?"
"I dunno," I explain.
"I'll tell him you said that." (I didn't.)
But I had to give him the business near the end of the summer, when we were writing down our addresses on a wall poster for people who actually wanted to pick up a pen and dash off a letter in the days before widespread email and Facebook. He misspelled a word in a comment below our location.
"Learn to spell, Dan," I snarked in a note beside it, alluding to the famous Quayle Potato(e).
Sibling rivalry, in full effect.