Learning to love my fellow man: an experiment at the amusement park

Think you have it all together?

You’re calm, zenlike, a true Bodhisattva?

You’re a good Christian, loving your fellow man even when it’s hard?

I’ll believe that, my friend, when I see you maintain your Teflon halo at the amusement park.

Yes, that’s right. Try keeping that baby glowing while riding the rapids or spinning in a teacup with the masses.

Loving your fellow man can be tough at work. I get that. Or in traffic. Heck, yes.

But the true test of the spiritual warrior of love is how you handle yourself when thrown into the melting pot of all melting pots—the amusement park.

Zauberer in der HalloweennachtHaving just returned from a brief stay at Universal Studios and an altogether scarily intimate relationship with butterbeer during my stint at Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, I can attest to how much discipline it takes to love your fellow man elbow to elbow in the hot sun.

Scads of it, to be honest.

Here’s my dilemma. When I hit it off with someone or feel empathy toward them, I feel the love. And on the flip side, when a large man bearing a giant turkey leg nearly barrels over my son in his haste to get to an attraction, I want to smack something—namely him.

In other words, it is fine to sit in our church pews and homes each day feeling good about ourselves. Another thing to make it work in the messy environment we call our world.

But you, I am sure, already know this. See if you see yourself in my struggles.

My peeps

To the single mom serving made-to-order omelettes at my hotel, a shout-out. Pleasant, cheerful, inquisitive, even though she was dead tired and it showed. Working long hours to keep her offspring clothed and sheltered. When I asked if she had ever taken her children to the park, her answer was no. Very few days off. And the cost was prohibitive. Hey, Universal, you might want to think about employee nights for the workers at your resort hotels.

I’m not going to pretend I get the exhaustion of a mom who spends long shifts on her feet dealing with the general public. I have no clue how that feels, save for my brief stint in retail and waitressing many moons ago. But do I get what it’s like to work hard and not take much time to play? To worry about financial affairs? Oh yes. When I told her I was also a single mom, and that she had a lot of compadres out there, she lit up like a Christmas tree. Got tears in her eyes and said, “You know, it’s good to hear that. Because I sometimes feel all alone. There are other moms out there working for their kids. I have got to remember that.”

To the two ladies from Chicago who we ran into more than once, a hug. Sweet as pie, not a child with them, but enjoying Harry Potter and friends for all they were worth. One of them even managed to be cheerful despite the woman next to her vomiting during a ride. Nice to meet some hometown gals with a laid-back attitude. If you can be nice about vomit, you’ve earned more than a few stars. I could learn a few things from you.

To the mother who raised her voice ever so slightly on the Hogwarts Express, I get it sister. Your tween was glued to that device screen—despite being surrounded by miles of Harry Potter accoutrements and delightful sights to see (sights you paid a pretty penny for her to see). And still, the screen. Raised voice merited. I wanted to buy you a butterbeer for the look of exasperation on your face. Been there, done that.

To the Universal employees who saw my son’s eyes aglow with his new Sirius Black wand, chosen with care at Olivander’s (where all the discriminating wizards go): thank you. For noticing his wand. For making a big deal of it. For helping him cast the more difficult spells around town. It all mattered. I was able to give him a few hours of magic in a world he still so wants to believe exists. And for listening to his long-winded bits about every detail of specific book happenings, applause. You validated his joy and interest. He felt he had found some peeps too.

My nemeses

To the older man who forced his family to hold hands so they could form a human torpedo and race the rest of us to our seats at one attraction: do you realize you nearly trampled my all of 65 pounds 10-year-old? Do you feel a bit silly, a bit ashamed—oh, I don’t know—a bit contrite for that? Didn’t look like it to me. You realize your behavior was reprehensible on a good day, but even more so because the theater held double the amount of people trying to fill it? I hope the 20-minute show was worth the carnage.

To the father who felt the need to question the pass taker at the Spiderman ride in such a vehement way: chill out. It’s just Spiderman, dude. Really. He’s not even real. And rides do break down from time to time. But when your pass taker says it is operating, he means it. He is not paid to lie to you. He is, unfortunately, paid far too little to put up with your poor manners.Young Boy with Mouth Full of Chips

To the family whose children were melting down at the airport: of course they were. During our brief hour at the gate together, I saw them consume every neon-colored treat, drink and snack available. The Danish, combined with the chocolates, the colored drink with no nutritional value and the Nutella out of a tub would have been enough to make most large steers fall over. Your children are over-sugared, overweight and tired. And we, your fellow passengers, are paying for that by hearing their screams and meltdowns. There is a reason Americans are overweight. If it comes in a package, we eat it. Tsk tsk. Produce works wonders on my kids.

To the boat driver who joked with us on the way to the park: thanks for the laughs. Except the joke about how our room keys could be used as credit cards. That part was fine. But the “Wives, this is something your husband won’t tell you. Because he’s the one paying the bill.” Ugh. Really? Yeah, circa 1950. I pay the bill. Me. The mama. Remember that when looking for tips.

To the guy buying beers in Diagon Alley at barely 11 a.m.: why? That’s all. Just why? In Harry Potter wonderland, with all the kiddies, do you need to imbibe so much so early? All those little eyes in the store waiting for their butterbeers and having to wait on you so you and your buds can get schnockered. Ick.  Next time, go to Homer Simpson land. You will find plenty of like-minded individuals and fewer innocent children.

My takeaway

I obviously have some work to do. To love my fellow man in all his glory.

I’m open to tips, people. Let me learn on you.




11 Comments Add yours

  1. Going to and surviving the amusement park – one of the things we parents do for love of our children.

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Oh well observed! Nearly 20 years since I was in Orlando with my young family. One abiding memory is the unfailing cheerfulness and helpfulness of the (mostly) young employees. I guess they work long hours for very little and they must have to deal with some dreadful people, but they were always on top of their game, especially with the children. And, as regards feeding children crap it’s high time they started charging parents with cruelty. It’s not as if there’s not loads of advice about eating healthily.

  3. Blue290 says:

    Just the fact you noticed the people behind the scenes (both good and bad) you are already ahead of the curve. Empathy is such a rare trait in this digital age. These parks are one of the reasons I hate crowds. Seeing our fellow humans acting like they are above normal decency. Counting internally to 10 seems to help…and then of course Wine. Wine helps a lot. (Not at the moment…but later as you celebrate not going to jail on your impulses) 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ll see your wine and raise you to a passionfruit cosmo. Which is what I had after dinner our last night at the parks:). In a quiet, lush hotel garden. Aaahhhh. You’re right. Better than the slammer . . .

  4. Dale says:

    Oh! This was PERFECTION! Having been there, done that and experiencing other stuff now that my boys are 15 & 16…I remember so well pretty much all of the expériences above. I, too, shall strive to love my fellow man…

  5. Jim Simon says:

    Tips? Dude, you nailed it!

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah, I see you’ve been to the amusement park lately, Jim:). My condolences!

  6. markbialczak says:

    You done good, Kay. Everybody in your party home alive and happy; nobody you encountered left scarred and cowering; your opinions here constructive and benevolent. Man, I hated those Disney lines, the way they snaked them back and forth to make you think they were shorter than they were!

  7. You seem detached and objective to me., not at all unkind No one ever said a person has to LIKE everyone.

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re so right. I guess my dilemma is how to love the fellow men I don’t particularly like:).

  8. Loved this. I am from Florida, and I know what you mean about amusement parks–and the heat doesn’t help 🙂

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