As a Six Flags worker, I sometimes get caught in situations that leave me wondering whether I will have a job at the end of the day. These are cases where a small mistake creates a butterfly effect of consequences.
July 18, 1992: Britannia, day shift. I can't stuff dollar bills down the pipes at the Churchill Downs horse-race game. They won't slide down to the bottom like change. If you throw a wad down, it'll just stick in the pipe. So when I run out of change, I have to fold it into the top of the pipe, not shoving it down, until somebody gets around to sell me change. "Thor," a foreperson whose name I'm changing to protect his identity, arrives when I'm at least $6 over. He and I start fumbling around with my till while he's selling me change.
"How much are you over?" he queries.
"I dunno," I tell him. No way am I going to count the till in my stand -- a consistent no-no -- and risk more wrath.
Thor takes the wad from the top of the pipe along with the bills from my belt. I also have money from guests in my hand, as they try to talk to me in the middle of all this.
"Pull five from that," Thor directs, giving my till wad back. "Drop six." I do it, using change he's just sold me.
But what about the money in my hand? I didn't realize he had accounted for it. He asked me if I'd pulled the five, which I had, but with him fooling with my money and guests itching to play and interrupt my thoughts, I'm losing track of things. Thor hands over some rolls of change and collects some money from a few more guests.
"Drop this," he says, handing me a roll of quarters. I do it.
But afterwards, I have a feeling something isn't right. My till feels too light. I go on break a few minutes later, and after a backroom count, I find I'm $6 short. Time to tell Thor.
I go over to him and explain what I've done, according to his instructions. He puts his head in his hands when I tell him about the first drop in addition to the second one.
"I'm trying to do my job," I tell him. I've followed his orders and he has the audacity to get upset with them. Or maybe he's just realized he's messed up. But knowing Thor and his longtime reputation for being a posterior orifice, the former is more likely.
"Go on your break and I'll talk with [the supervisor]," he says.
When I come back from break, the sup has a solution: remain at $6 short. "I'll write it down in my book that you're excused. Obviously you misunderstood something he said."
That does little to comfort me as I fret over what Cash Control or somebody else can do to me as Six Flags deals with a wave of till thefts. My hands keep shaking, and another foreperson nearly scares the stuffing at me.
"Need money, Chris?" he says, coming up from behind.
I nearly leap a foot in the air.
As for Thor's attitude, the sup tells me not to worry. He's "having a bad day."
Or a bad attitude... and enjoying it.