Thursday, August 28, 2008

It Could Be Worse, It Could Be A Bandana.

Okay, okay, I’m trying not to let the work situation bother me so much. I’m kinda dwelling in Kicked Puppy territory, since every day when I show up at work, there’s a 50 / 50 chance I’m gonna get yelled at for something that wasn’t my fault.

I know in the grand scheme of things, this won’t matter in like, a year from now. Possibly six months from now. Next week, maybe. Job situations, no matter how crazy they can get, usually look better in retrospect. One of the few things that do, come to think of it.

Back in the day, I worked for a certain corporation, hmm, I can’t remember if I signed a non-disclosure form, so how to phrase, how to phrase, how to say things that a google search wouldn’t get me in trouble for, hmmmmmmmm.

Okay! Back in the day, I worked for a certain corporation, and maybe it had a couple of theme parks. Or two. Or three. Or….a bunch.

I totally fell for the whole “Working at a theme park’s gonna be FUN!” theory. I like theme parks. I have fun at theme parks. Why wouldn’t WORKING there be fun too?

Well, because, simply put, you’re not the one on vacation. Plus, it helps if you like people, since you have to be happy and cheerful and smiling all the time.

And we all know how I feel about that. Heh.

Which is why I eventually succeeded in getting myself into the character department. My reasoning wasn’t that I could make a bunch of kids happy. My reasoning was, honest to God, if I’m wearing a character head, I don’t have to smile. I don’t have to talk to people. I don’t have to be cheerful. It’ll be great. My ultimate goal was to get into one of the stage shows, where I REALLY wouldn’t have to interact much with the crowds, but I didn’t get that far.

You have to attend about a week of character training, capped off by a final exam, where they throw you in a costume, throw you in an area of the park, and make sure you can do what you were supposed to do.

They threw me in a Rabbit costume (a particular rabbit, one in a classic children’s story who’s obsessed with time.) The fun part was that this costume was out of my size range, it was the next category up, you could wear it if you were 5’6 and above. I’m 5’3 ½, but every character in my category was checked out, so into the Rabbit I went.

Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop, Ker-flop. That is the sound of my Rabbit Feet going down the hall. They’re making us go to the part of the theme park that, um, looks a lot like a jungle? Jungleland! It’s pretty far away, and my Rabbit Feet are something like three feet long, I’m picking my legs up extra high to make it work, but the Rabbit Legs are low to the ground. But I’m thinking this is all part of the exam, so I’m gonna suck it up and Ker-flop my way to Jungleland.

Okay! Now I’m in Jungleland. Which is a perfectly appropriate place to find a Rabbit from classic children’s literature. Not. But the tourists don’t care, it’s a CHARACTER! GET THE AUTOGRAPH BOOK! GET THE CAMERA! GRAB THE KIDS! IT’S THE RABBIT!

I pose for the pictures. I sign the autograph books. I hippity hop as best I can in my Monster Rabbit Feet. And very slowly, inside my Rabbit Head, the bandana holding my hair back is starting to slip, slip, slip. Forward.

Uh-oh. Oh, this really isn’t going to happen to me is it? IS IT!? See, the Rabbit has a failsafe whenever he has to leave, all he has to do is point to his watch that’s the size of a frying pan on his belt and scoot along to the nearest backstage exit, and the parents will explain to the kids that the Rabbit’s gotta go, that’s his part of the story, you see.

But I am surrounded by a crowd, no, an OCEAN of people, something like four lines deep, because a Rabbit in Jungleland isn’t something you see every day. My teacher comes over, “Rabbit! Rabbit! You’re late!” Ah, my exit line!

And the ocean of people doesn’t move. This Bunny is going nowhere. They won’t let me. Teacher runs off, waiting to see how I’m gonna get out of this by myself.

Now the bandana’s on my forehead. It’s tied tightly enough to where it’s gonna be snug, instead of dropping to my chest, but loose enough to where it’s gonna be over my eyes in about a minute and a half. Aw hell.

How in the world am I gonna stop this? I can’t take my Rabbit head off, we’ve all heard the stories about how four year olds peeped backstage where they shouldn’t have, saw characters without their heads, and their parents sued for emotional damage and distress. The best I can do is ker-flop my Monster Bunny Feet over, moving the ocean of people four lines deep with me, and plant myself by a wall, to keep the crowd on three sides.

Half my vision is now blocked by the bandana. It’s red. I stole it from my sister Agatha. This is obviously divine retribution. I turn my head from side to side, trying to dislodge the bandana. The crowd sees the Rabbit shaking his head. “No, what?” a little girl says.

Where is my teacher? Hello? Anybody? Rabbit in distress! RABBIT IN DISTRESS! SOMEBODY HELP ME!

And then the bandana goes over my eyes. I’m officially blind. I turn this way, that way. Nope, nothing doing.

F THIS SHIT! If I’m gonna flunk, I’m gonna flunk.

I quickly turn around, facing the wall, my back to the crowd, I sneak a Rabbit paw inside my Rabbit head, and yank the bandana down, get the Rabbit paw out of the Rabbit head, and turn back around.

“Are you lost?’ the little girl says.


I sign a few more autographs, and somehow ker-flopped the hell out of Jungleland. I do remember that it was by myself. Everyone was waiting for me backstage, wondering what on earth had happened. Maybe they thought I just LOOOOOOOVVVVVVED people.

I did pass, by the way. I went on to play a whole menagerie of critters and assorted small people. I did a few parades, almost passed out on a float in 100+ degree weather why are you people watching a parade when it’s 100+ degrees outside!? What’s WRONG with you?

I worked out of character costume as a character escort/bodyguard. I escorted/bodyguarded a Rabbit, a Bear, and a Fox from a classic Southern story to their river flume ride when the park opened, and we all stood at a spot with a few kids where we knew we’d get wet from the ride. Watching kids, a Rabbit, a Bear, and a Fox dance while getting sprayed with river flume ride water is hilarious.

I escorted/bodyguarded a Bear, a Tiger, and a Mopey Donkey during a character lunch. When we ran out of kids to take pictures and sign autographs with, we sat down in the restaurant foyer and played Duck Duck Goose. Watching a Mopey Donkey trying to run around a Duck Duck Goose circle is hilarious.

So I must remember, in the grand scheme of things, that the stressful times at work are not going to be the only times I have. That there will be, if not necessarily fun times, (because I’m not currently working at a theme park), better times. Or at least surreal times.

And I will never have to deal with a slipping bandana inside a Rabbit head ever again.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

1) That is a great story.

2) My boss used to say to me, "Even if it's not your fault, it's your fault." And he meant it. It was so I could never say, "But it wasn't my fault because..." It made me completely INSANE. Because you know, sometimes it wasn't my fault.

I once got yelled at in front of a room full of people because the runner (not even me) purchased regular swiss cheese at the grocery store instead of baby swiss cheese.

I'm just saying, I know how it feels to feel like you're going to get yelled at every day.