The dentist, a meeting with the boss, even going through my cancer treatments, I have never tried to prevent something so much, rather accept, what I am facing this year. My daughters are growing up, um… grown up, one now eighteen, the other in her late teens. As I go through the department store with either, and we pass the early childhood wardrobes and footwear, I am reminded of a time, seemingly long ago. I want to go back. I cannot. But that does not mean that I cannot dig my heels in as deep as I can, holding on to the very last second, that I have to let go.
Of course, time deals with my resistance. As I said, I have one daughter now eighteen, which means no longer covered by the custody order between her mother and I, she now decides on the time that we get to spend together. Not that she does not want to, but, she does have other things in her life to deal with, whether it be a school activity, hanging with friends, a date, or even work.
The “W” word, work, came up some time ago, actually a couple of years ago. Though I had been resistant to the idea, in spite of the fact that I myself worked as young as the age of fourteen, my only hesitation was the impact that working would have on their school work. As a student, I was a slacker. I was good at just taking tests, not applying myself with homework and studying, so, working did not impact my grades. While my grades were good, needless to say, had I applied myself better to my schoolwork, by not working, sure, my grades would have been better.
As a parent, I have a different outlook. The one request I made of my older daughter, that any hours that she worked, would not interfere not just with her schoolwork, but any activities related to school, especially when it came to the potential of earning any kind of college scholarships.
Earlier this year, she did enter the work force. It is not interfering with school, nor family time.
Now, my younger daughter wanted to get into the act. And again, I found myself in the position of saying, “it must not impact your school work.” Complicating things for her, she is still under the custody agreement, meaning that she is visiting me during the Summers yet, the best time for a teenager to earn some scratch.
Controversy aside from the so-called “worker shortage,” and being somewhat difficult that she would be considered a “seasonal” worker, I began to look at opportunities for her while she would visit with me. I did explain to her, that I would not allow her into the food industry as of right now, for two reasons, low wages and hours that would likely take advantage of her. I know this, I worked in the food industry a long time ago and have friends working in it now. It has not changed. I attempted retail for her, but they all wanted her of adult age. Then it hit me.
We have a seasonal water park, and they were looking for help. Perfect! I will skip the whole process of getting hired, but she was in fact hired, and is looking forward to her first paycheck. But long before that first dollar comes to her, I noticed something.
One of my first jobs as a teenager was also as an employee of an amusement park.
I actually worked there twice, once operating games, and in this photo, after graduating, operating rides. But it gave me a great experience. And I recently found out, after asking how my daughter’s first day went, that job also gave me a new perspective about employment, just as it did for her.
Sure, she is excited about earning money to save for college and other things. But she is also learning, just as I did, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to a business. We only see the board of menu items, order our food, pay for it, and eat it. We try on clothes in the fitting room, and leave the articles of clothing in a heap for some poor schlub to hang the clothing back up if we do not purchase it. And this one really bugs me, the poor person having to gather shopping carts located all over a parking lot just because someone is too lazy to return them or at least place them in a holding area for shopping carts (Publix has them located all over the parking lot).
My daughter had experienced this park before, but as a guest. She was now getting to see what happens behind the ticket window, what employees have to deal with, not just let someone through a gate or put on a ride. She has gotten to see patrons with legitimate issues to deal with, and some that were just being a pain in the ass. She watched small children have meltdowns at the prospect of having to go home. And my personal favorite, having experienced it plenty as a ride operator, dealing with a guest who “lost his lunch.”
Yes, we go to an amusement park, we have a great time, bitch about the things that did not please us, and hopefully we had a great time. To the worker, sure the paycheck is nice, but the wall has been torn down. As an employee, we hope that we have never acted the way that our customers treated us.
It is a short stint for her, as it being seasonal and the kids go back to school soon, but it was a great opportunity and experience for her. As an adult, a happy environment is not always likely as the pressures of life and habits of adulthood become an added complication of the work environment, making it feel more like “work” or working to enjoy work.
Admittedly, it has been fun sharing stories of each of our experiences working at an amusement park, even if they were decades apart.