Saturday, June 28, 2014

The People Vs. Jackie

Many forepeople at Six Flags Over Mid-America cop an attitude. Most of us put up with it, but in 1991, a forewoman who rubbed multiple people in multiple wrong directions got knocked down a notch.

"Jackie" (name changed) had a pushy, witchy, overbearing reputation, something she apparently treasured. When selling change to her underlings, she would walk up to somebody and stick out her hand without saying a word -- hand it over. She could chew on people, yell at others, and slack off in the backroom without sanction. Someone in upper management backed her, likely the same person who promoted her to forewoman in the first place. Forepeople and supervisors had a habit of moving up people they were dating.

On July 4th, 1991, as fireworks exploded over St. Louis, a group of Jackie's victims got together at the Taco Bell down the road after getting off shift. They signed a petition against her, and although it's not clear if they wanted her fired or just demoted, they wanted something done about her. Some people scribbled down page-long grievances. The petition even made its way into some stands back in the Games section, although Jackie never noticed.

"She was probably slacking," another worker told me.

On top of this, I learned Jackie had concocted a story to get a girl off early from her shift. She lied and said the girl had a sick grandmother, but the girl's story and Jackie's story didn't match when a supervisor heard from both of them.

Five days later, Jackie found herself reduced in rank from forewoman to assistant forewoman -- from red tag down to orange tag -- but only for 30 days. I would've loved to have been a fly on the wall when one of the full-time Games specialists laid it out, but I can imagine the conversation went something like this:

"I'm taking you down to orange tag."

"Oh, come on!"

"I can't ignore this, Jackie. I got pages and signatures here in front of me."

"You know those people will sign anything somebody puts in front of them!"

"Well do they write full-page comments, too, saying how much you [bleep]?"

"I push people hard because we got a lot of people who slack!"

"They can't all be slackers, Jackie. And you've got a problem dealing with people."

"The problem I have is that I got people slacking and stealing and not serving the guests."

"Yeah, well, maybe. But you got a problem, too. We both got a problem here, because if I don't handle this, they're gonna go to [redacted]. And then he's gonna ask why I didn't handle it, and then we're both hosed. Look, this is only for a month. You be cool, and you get your red tag back."

"This is such [bleep]."

"That's not the issue. The issue is how do I save your job, and save my job, and keep this from getting bigger."

Jackie's attitude improved -- slightly. She began saying "please." She began saying, "May I see your till?" But she did only as much as she needed. Thirty days later her red tag returned along with her attitude.

One season later, when I was working a stand by myself and giving a guest directions to a ride, Jackie cut in right after I finished my conversation.

"Would you like to help them out?"

She meant another guest standing at the stand, the one I was about to help had she not assumed I was blowing them off. Then she stuck out her hand.

"Lemme see your bills."

Now she wanted to sell me change. The demotion hadn't done a darn thing except make her invincible. I later learned she tried to quit, putting in her two weeks' notice and hoping it would goad somebody into backing off. Her cadre of supervisors and full-time specialists, those ones who had her back, decided to back her again.

Getting Jackie fired would be a hundred times simpler today. Back in 1991, we didn't have YouTube, Facebook or hidden pen cameras. The combination of those three could've been devastating.

No comments: