Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Sprite Incident - Part 1 of 3: Opryland

This is (eventually) the story of the second time I was ever Fired from a job. It is a very long story, so I have broken it up into three posts. I hope it amuses you.

The Sprite Incident: Chapter One

Opryland USA Theme Park, August 1997
I was employed at the (now sadly non-existent) Opryland, USA amusement park in the Summer of 1997, the last year that the park was open before they built a big mall where it had been. My siblings and I all worked there that summer, and some of my extended family used to joke that we were the reason the park closed down. My sister, Anna, started there first, and got a referral bonus for referring my brother, and my brother, Jeremy, got the bonus for referring me. Anna worked in the "Games" division taking money from suckers who wanted to try their luck at games that generally involved hitting something with a projectile, and handing out gigantic stuffed animals to the few who succeeded. Jeremy worked in the "Food" division making funnel cakes,and turning his clothing into paper mache, and his shoes into Flour Bricks. I had the most glamorous job of all, in the "Rides" division, working on the rollercoaster tracks all the live-long day. My job was the coolest because, hey, let's face it; people don't go to the amusement park just to spend too much money on funnel cakes and not winning a 6-foot-tall stuffed Tweety Bird. They go for the rides!

All three of our jobs were in the excruciating Nashville Summer Heat, though. Opryland knew that they were exposing their employees to potentially dangerous dehydration, and so mandated each station have a water cooler and cups available. So even though my job was in the heat, I was not without the crisp cool refreshing hydration that water provides.

Except when my co-workers got clever.

The ride I worked at most during my time at the park was CHAOS, a science fiction themed indoor rollercoaster featuring various levels of multimedia effects. The long hallway that housed the line for the ride had a concession stand at the entrance. When the ride station was set up early in the morning, some of the employees discovered that instead of going down to the spigot to fill the 5-gallon cooler with water, they could go raid the concession stand before it opened, and snag 5 gallons of free soda! And, of course, so that the bosses would be none the wiser, they got the soda that most closely resembled water - Sprite. They thought themselves Fiendishly Clever.

The only problem with this plan was that when it is August in Tennessee, and you've been working all day in a non-air-conditioned enclosed space with 90 bodies and a 44-car rollercoaster train constantly making it even hotter, and you really really want some water, and you don't KNOW that the stuff in the water cooler isn't water, and you take a big swig, you really do not appreciate getting sickly-sweet, corn-syrupy, carbonated, citrus-flavored goo instead. It is quite enough to turn you off of Sprite forever. Which it did. As a matter of fact I just relived the experience a bit more than I would have liked while typing this paragraph.

Chapter Two:

My career: From the Literal Rollercoaster to the Metaphorical one.


The Wife said...

I never knew. Now I do.

Jeremy said...

I worked down at the Chaos stand a few times.

That was a decade ago. Wow.