I have never in the past looked at the month of June the way I do now. In the past, as a Carney working in a theme park, I would have already been beyond exhausted physically and mentally for we would have been open since April and operating full time. Every day the radio would go off with a group standing outside our gates needing attention, phones ringing off the hook with companies wanting to plan their company picnic and a team hustling and bustling around Denver working hard to execute their outings while still prospecting for the long season ahead.
As the date on my desk phone continues to change, it feels like the same thing, disbelief. I wonder the questions that we all wonder, how did we get here and how in less than a few months did people get laid off, companies closing and entertainment venues almost eliminated? A world that I have known for so long is now not the same. Everything we did during our long careers is gone, we have to think of all new ideas on how to handle our relationships with clients, our guests in the park and the safety of those around us. We all secretly (in and out of the theme park world) look at each other as a potential carrier of this disease, when in the past, we had no problems being close, sharing the same beverage, making contact and trusting each other. Now due to social distancing, in order to protect each other, we are separated by the type of space you can visually see and the space that you cannot see.
I think we all are not saying what we really want to say, but sometimes cannot, that we are frightened deep inside and we just simply want contact. I am not a type of person who wants hugs, but I cannot recall the last time I actually had human contact, such as someone grabbing my hand, giving me a hard hug, or comforting me when needed. As much as social distancing is important I think it has created a social distance that will mentally take time to overcome which makes me heartbroken. As for being in the theme park industry, I spend my time moving reservations, handling groups that my team built over the last six months and trying to look ahead vs. behind.
There are days, where I sit there in my secluded and isolated world and hang my head. I look for all positivity in all shapes and sizes and within any group that still wants to come out small or large. This is not only my job, but I believe we all need a gleam of hope right now. I look at the precautions that we have to take to open and it is exhausting. Every department has their own role to play in this story and even though some departments have more of a part to play, we are all in this world together, which has bonded us in a unique way. We in the theme park industry were bonded before and always joked it might take a certain type of “crazy” to work in this industry, but now more than ever, we are bonded by something deeper.
We long for the day of opening the gates, seeing faces again, hearing the music and watching the memories form. We know that day will come and even though the smiles will be covered by masks we will still be able to see the joy in their eye. We now have to remember to remain the standard distance from our guests and not hug clients who in the past would run up and wrap their arms around us in appreciation for their event. I know everyone has their own story to tell about this nightmare and how it affects them mentally, physically and financially which are the three hard truths that remain buried inside of us. We all handle those three objectives differently. I spend my work week not answering the radio, greeting guests or seeing the glow on their face, but instead hearing frustration and sadness in their voice because they cannot hold an event due to employee safety concerns, or company financial concerns.
These are days where I feel like a dog in the street that has just went through a hail storm and is unprotected by the painful drops of hail and the sadness of not having any human contact at all. I stand chasing my own tail and hope that one day I can stop chasing my tail and actually move forward out of the streets of homeliness but into the light of warm caring arms. I know the world of theme parks will return to normal and we all just need to get through this year and I long for that day. As being in the industry for a long time now, I never thought this day would come and that we would have to handle what we have to both financially and mentally.
I am believer that what does not kill you makes you stronger, but strong comes with a price and we are paying that price now. We as employees will do everything we can to make their day great, for they make our day great. The day of turning on the music will come, the smell of the fresh food baking will fill main-street and the smiles will be turned on like a light bulb gleaming like never before. I suppose this time was needed to teach us a few life lessons, which includes, patience, love, appreciation, and overall the art of making everyone feel something warm!