I wrote this one on Saturday. Again, no wifi at the hotel meant I couldn’t get it online. This is straight from the “This Stuff Only Happens To Me” file.
I’ve been told my friends, family and regular readers that my best writing comes out when one of two things happens. Either something funny, or somewhat embarrassing, happens to me, or I’m ticked off about something.
Someone call the Pullitzer people then, or maybe just the New England Press Association, because here comes a doozy.
It’s around 1 PM on Saturday and the sky is crowded by blackening clouds. Only about 30-minutes earlier we had arrived at Six Flags Over New England to find out that they had decided to close the park very early and we’d have just two hours to ride the rides and see the sites with the kids. Not exactly how you’d want the big deal, to the kids at least, of your Berkshires vacation to play out, but what can you do? The remnants of Hurricane Hannah were just hours away and it made sense to lock up a bit early, even if we didn’t get a break on the price.
Like most parents would, we decided to placate the children and let them get their fill of kiddie land first, which was not a problem since the park was nearly empty. There were no lines whatsoever so we got right up to all of the rides in the Thomas The Train area. The kids went on a helicopter ride, then we all went on the train and then they went on some weird bus ride that was pretty intense for their age.
So far, so good.
At this point I told Lyra that I was going to break away for a few minutes to try out the Superman Rollercoaster. I love coasters. They’re my favorite attraction at any theme park. It’s funny, because I can’t stand horror movies, but I love the rush and fright provided by a good rollercoaster. Everything about them is awesome.
I found my way to the Superman ride and wove through the maze of barricades that would keep a large crowd in order, had their been a long line. Without said crowds I simply hopped over the barriers, one after another, until I got to the front. I noticed two ladies attempt to get in through the Flash Pass line, which is for premier members and allows them to skip lines. Without any lines to speak of this shouldn’t have been a problem. They were getting no kind of advantage, but the not very kind kid that was protecting the entrance refused to allow them to move through. He sent them back down the stairs and around to the front of the line where I was entering. Had they gone in through the Flash Pass, it would have not changed their position in line one bit. But, rules apparently are rules at Six Flags, as I would soon find out.
We had no wait at all to get on the coaster. One ride was ending as we stepped up and we entered the car of our choice. We strapped in and were checked by attendants and then started to make our way out.
As the car left the gate I had an idea. How cool would it be to have a picture, from my cell phone, of the car climbing to the top. It would make a great image for my daily picture blog, so I fished the phone out of my pocket and hit the button for pictures.
Just as I did that the woman behind me told me phones weren’t allowed and that I’d better put it away. I said ‘okay,’ and started to do just that. At that very moment the car halted, only halfway up the ascension to the top of the ramp.
Just about everyone on the car started to get nervous. We’ve all heard horror stories about theme park disasters. Did a bolt fall off? Was there a mechanical issue? I thought the poor woman behind me, who happened to be the one that had been dissed on the Flash Pass, and the one who told me to put the phone away, was going to melt down with nerves.
Just as things started to get really tense, a dude who couldn’t yet be out of college came up the stairs, strapped to a safety harness, made his way and came right up to me. “Sir, I need your cell phone. They’re not allowed on the ride.”
“Umm, okay. I had put it away. The lady behind me told me I couldn’t use it, so I put it away.”
“Sir, I need the phone.”
I didn’t want to be a problem, so I handed it over and he said that I could get it back from security at the end of the ride.
No problem. As long as they don’t mess with my Blackberry, no bubbles no troubles.
Finally we took off and the ride was fantastic. Without question it was one of the best roller coasters I’ve been on. It was unbelievably fast, well designed and downright thrilling. It gets an “A” in my book, no question.
When it finally came to a halt I was downright exhilarated and ready to jump back in line and ride again right then. But first I had to get my phone back.
I walked up to the guy holding it and apologized for my mistake. “I’m sorry man, I had no idea I was breaking a rule.”
“That’s fine sir, here’s your phone, would you come with me to fill out some paperwork?”
Uh-oh. A part of me was hoping that it was some sort of formal warning and that I had to sign off that I knew that I had done something wrong and if I did it again I’d be asked to leave. I mean it was a simple mistake, and I did not see any signs along the way saying that it was not allowed.
While I was walking with the dude I ran into Lyra and told her I had to go with the security guard and fill out some paperwork. I told her not to worry that I’d catch up with her in a few minutes.
I was wrong.
The guy asked my name. I should have given him a fake one. He asked my address. I should have given him a fake one.
“I’ll be right back sir.”
I called Lyra to tell her what was going on and told her I’d call her back.
Then the guy said he needed to take my picture.
“Why do you need my picture,” I asked him. “I mean, I don’t want you taking my picture if I don’t know why.”
“I’ll tell you after sir.”
“Umm, no. I’m a big boy. Tell me what the heck is going on.”
“Sir you’re being kicked out of the park and if you return before November 3 (the last day that they’re open this year), you’ll be arrested by Agaway Police.”
“Its our policy sir.”
I was then asked to sign a document, with my picture on it, that said I understood this and would not trespass at Six Flags for the rest of the year.
I tried to allow common sense to prevail. “Buddy, look at me. You saw my wife and kids on the way up here. Do I look like a trouble maker? Let me go back in the park and enjoy the last hour that you’re open with my family. We’re on vacation and coming here was a big deal to them.”
“Sorry sir, you’re going to have to leave.”
I really, really wanted to blow up at this kid. He wasn’t old enough to shave, looked scared that I might throw a fit, and had all of the authority that a walkie talkie and whistle provide. His badge read “security” but he would have had a hard time breaking up a fight between seven year olds back at the Thomas The Train rides.
But I wasn’t going to allow him to pick up that walkie talkie and bring in some real badges. I really had no desire to visit the Agawam PD or end up on the local news that night. Sure I wanted to tell the kid he was an idiot and that I hadn’t done anything wrong, except for shell out about $100, plus $15 for parking, to ride one ride – even though it was a good one.
I called Lyra and told her what had happened and she thought I was kidding. “Rich you know how to talk to people, get them to change their minds.”
“I would hon, but they already escorted me off the premises.”
I waited in the car for the next hour while they rode the rides and had a good time. As much as I was ticked off about what had happened, I had shelled out a C-note for the day and wanted my kids to have a good time. I sucked it up, went back to the car and listened to BC lose its football game and played video blackjack on the phone that had started the whole mess.
Once the clock struck three Lyra called and said they were on their way out. After watching my friend the security guard drive by (I admit I flipped him the finger after he went by, but he didn’t see it. Sue me, I had a moment of weakness. I was ticked off) I rolle dup to the front of the park to pick them up. I parked the car and waited for Lyra, Rye and Leanna. As Rye ran up to the car, he had a big mischevious smile on his face and said “Dad, they kicked you out.”
Then he laughed, and so did I. I was embarrassed, but got a good story out of it.
After leaving the park, and driving down the Mass Pike through some unreal rain, we pulled back into South Lee, where we’re staying, and Lyra asked to stop at the Price Chopper to pick up a few things. I did, threw on the kids’ favorite song on the CD player and waited, and waited and then waited some more.
When she finally came out she was in the same mood that I was in a few hours earlier.
“I cant’ believe these people out here. Everyone is a witch.”
Her story in a nutshell: Like any good shopper, she went after the deals. She didn’t have one of their version of the Stop and Shop card, but usually the clerks at most places will just slide one for you so that you don’t overpay for the sale items, and everything she had picked up was on sale. The clerk at the checkout told her that she’d have to go wait in line to fill one out. She tried to explain that we’re not local and that we have no use for their card, other than for the deals today. Then the woman in line behind her offered to let her use her card for the transaction. Ms. Dictator of the cash register said that would not be allowed because “it wouldn’t be fair to the other customers.”
So Lyra over-payed for her “sale” items and the Price Chopper is on the list with Six Flags. Apparently there is no common sense in western Massachusetts. Sure they have some pretty hills, a decent theme park, and Tanglewood, but the brain activity seems to be slipping west of Springfield.
Oh, and there’s no wifi in the hotel room either, nor is there a wired way to access the Internet. The only way I can get on line is to go several buildings over into the rec area where I have to hope that I can get use of their wifi connection there, which is spotty at best.
Let’s just hope that the rest of the trip goes better. The Red Sox just got destroyed, they have NESN but it looks like it comes in on rabbit ears and my son had a meltdown before bedtime. It’d be hard to get much worse.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.