In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Enchanted Music from Hell

Once a month the writers group on the island meets to critique works submitted by other members. I've decided to submit a portion of a book I'm working on. This is a first draft; I'll follow up on the feedback I get in May.

This chapter of the book is about my job at Enchanted Village in Federal Way, Washington. I was a 15 yr old ride operator making my first regular paycheck.





"Before every ride we repeated the safety rules, and as the customers exited the ride, per company rules-- we wished them all “Have a happy day!”
Saying good bye was right out. These people needed to have a HAPPY day! It was forced on them not only by every ride operator or food vendor they met, but also by the insanely happy music and bird chirping effects played non-stop over the loud speakers located throughout all 12 acres. YOU WERE GOING TO BE HAPPY you couldn't’t escape it, not even in the parking lot or the restrooms!

I remember one day I was alone upstairs in the elf-employee break room. There was this long hallway that joined the break room to the park offices. I spied the sound system. The music was on a double sided 2 hour tape reel. It played over and over again like a merciless monster. I thought for the tapes safety they should keep it under lock and key; I was sure I wasn’t the only one who hated it. But there it spun over and over again in plain sight, mocking me. For a brief moment I imagined myself ripping it off the reels in slow motion and with tape in arms, running down the stairs, knocking down the guy in a bunny outfit waving people in the door and throwing the tapes over the fence into I-5 traffic. But I didn't do this and the tape lived on. By the end of a month I had the tape memorized. I was it's tool.
Oh well, break over, back to work.

“Wow what an annoying song. They must play it in hell.”
A parent said to me once. “How can you stand that music ALL day?” I was shocked by this comment because most customers seemed to not notice it.
I wanted to say, “Mister, I’m 15 and dressed like Peter Pan’s sister and you think the only thing I’m worried about is the music?” Deep breath.
“Oh it’s not that bad. It’s happy. It keeps me happy. Have a happy day! Bye! Be Happy!”"

One time many years later while shopping at grocery store I heard one of the songs played over the store speakers, and my eye started to twitch a bit. It haunts me to this day.


Current Wild Wave Enchanted Village Map

*The Enchanted Village theme park was first opened in 1977 by Byron Betts. The initial 12-acre (49,000 m2) park site held only a half-dozen rides. In 1984, Wild Waves Water park was built adjacent to Enchanted Village[2]; the combined amusement complex became known as Enchanted Parks. In 1992 park chief executive Jeff Stock paid $8 million for Enchanted Parks. Late in 2000 Six Flags purchased the park for $19.3 million.[3] In 2000 the park had grown to over 70 acres (280,000 m2), with more than 20 rides, and was the Northwest's largest water park.[1] In 2002 approximately 1000 seasonal workers were employed for positions as rides operators and food service workers. Many of these seasonal workers are also students of local high schools. [4]

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