Saturday, March 13, 2010

Insults On The Midway

One of the things I love about visiting the theme parks is the feeling I get when I walk down the midway.

There's something incredible about the smell of the food, the sounds of people screaming on rides and the sight of the flashing lights and vibrant colors.

But some parks have figured out a way to ruin my walk down the midway by giving the people who run the games a microphone. More importantly, they've given these people permission to cop an attitude.

One of the long-standing traditions of parks is the carnival barker. It's his job to get people's attention so that they "step right up" to the games and drop some money trying to win a cheap prize.

(It amazes me how some people will spend $30 or more to win a gigantic stuffed monkey that probably cost $2 to make.)

In the old days, the carnival barkers would shout out to the crowd about how much fun the game was, how it was easy to win and how they could take home a valuable prize. It added to the atmosphere and energy of the park.

But these days, I'm noticing that the carnival barkers are getting a little too aggressive.

Last summer, I was at a major chain park with Molly. We happened to be walking by the games section. It was early in the day, so no one was really playing yet.

As we walked by the "Wacky Wire" game, the 23-year-old dude behind the counter (who looked like he had been sparking up before work) shouted at me over the microphone:

"Come on man, you know you want to give the Wacky Wire a try!"

From what I've heard, it is possible to win that game. But you have to try it a few times to understand how it works. To me, it wasn't worth spending $10 for a horrible looking Papa Smurf plush doll.

Plus, the Smurfs always creeped me out as a kid. Except for Smurfette, who was HOT! (JK, JK)

So I said "No Thanks" and smiled politely as we kept walking.

The guy obviously wasn't happy with this answer because he raised the microphone to his mustached lips and said:

"What, are you afraid of embarrassing yourself in front of your sister?"

I could tell he was trying to bait me, but I was holding hands with Molly at the time. But I didn't want to give him the dignity of a response.

All that changed though when Molly quickly said "I'm not his sister, I'm his wife!"

The stoner smiled, raised the mic to his crooked teeth and shouted to Molly:

"No way! How'd a dude like that score a chick like you?"

Now look.... I know I totally overachieved when I married Molly. But I don't need some pothead who works at an amusement park to tell me so.

At this point Molly is smiling (she was flattered I guess) and I'm still trying to walk past so we can get away from this dude and get on some type of ride.

We had gotten about 25-feet away from the game when I heard him on the mic again!

"Don't be a LOSER, man! Get back here and play my game!"

I looked at Molly and said "Can you believe this guy?"

And just as I said that, I heard him say (on-mic):

"What a jerk-off!"

Now, I'm a grown man who's confident in himself. I can handle some immature taunting from the dude who runs the "Wacky Wire" game.

But here's want I want to know....

Was this guy was a rogue employee? Or did his managers tell him to taunt the guests into playing the game?

Does insulting the guests actually encourage them to play the games more?

I doubt it. But I wasn't a Psychology Major in college either. Maybe it does?

What do you think?

Talk about it in the forums.

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