Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Enthusiast-Turned-Employee Surprised At Attitudes

Christopher Karning, a nineteen-year-old coaster enthusiast, thought he had the perfect job for the summer after his first year at Southern Connecticut Community College: He would work at Rye's Playland and become acquainted with other employees -- all of whom he assumed would be knowledgeable enthusiasts. "Yeah, y'know, I figured everyone there would be as thrilled as I am about being around the coasters and flat rides and the rest, and I could learn about the history, and maybe be taken under the wing of an old but wise grizzled veteran ride operator who would choose me to be the next lead on the Dragon Coaster."

Karning says he was sorely disappointed from the outset. "First off, they wouldn't let me wear my ACE lapel pin or attach any of my dozens of iron-on patches onto my Playland employee uniform. And then, when I yelled out, 'I love my dragon woodie!' when walking past the Dragon Coaster on my first day, everyone looked at me like I was some sort of weirdo."

And as for his hopes to be mentored by an older ride operator, Karning has even less good news: "The only person here who's been here for more than three years is Bob the Sweeper, who gets dropped off from his group home every day and will only take direction if sung to the tune of 'Old McDonald.' He seems willing to teach me about the heritage of sweeping up garbage, but that's not really what I'm looking for. And as for the younger employees -- forget it! All they care about is getting paid and sneaking behind the Tilt-a-Whirl to get stoned, and . . ." Karning's voice then trailed off in disappointment.

"Though there is that one group of girls who always want me to talk about how much I love woodies. But they don't seem to be taking me seriously."