Yesterday: Break Tomorrow: Whatever I Want to Say
Books: The Bubble Boys: How Mistaken Educational Ideals and Practices Are Causing a Warped Social Fabric; Rules for Writing; The Role of the Gods in The Iliad; etc.
Yesterday my friend and I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain–a treat for her before she heads back to New York, intended to be a very fun trip. For the most part I would say it was. We went on most of the rides–Scream, Viper, Riddler’s Revenge, Batman, Colossus, Revoution, and the newest, Full Throttle, along with others. On none of these were there any problems. We were flipped over and back and around and back again, suspended in midair, sped up and slowed down–all was fine.
Then we got on Green Lantern. This herky-jerky ride takes you backwards up into the air, suspends you, and thrusts you wildly around before letting you back down. They have a spot, little protected, where you can put loose items–into which I did not put my wallet, keys, and diabetes kit, one reason for which is its lack of protection. Which meant that as I was thrust around in the air, the things in my pocket all fell out of my pockets. This included my insulin pump, which I only was able to retain because it is physically attached to my body and my friend grabbed the tubing as it came out of my pocket. What a horrifying event!
This itself was bad. But then when we got to the ground it got worse. From there goes my account to Six Flags Corporate, which can be seen almost in full here:
To Whom it May Concern:
I visited your Magic Mountain park today, August 16, 2013. Overall I had a good day–with no problems riding on Viper, Scream, Revolution, Batman, Full Throttle, Colossus, and a variety of other rides–until I rode Green Lantern. This herky-jerky ride, which hangs you upside-down, thrust my wallet, keys, and diabetes kit out of my pockets. (As I found out later, it also cast a young lady’s glasses off her forehead, so it is a ride problem, not a pocket or face problem.) In fact the only item that I was able to hang onto was my insulin pump–but that is only because it is attached to my body physically, and my friend grabbed the tubing and handed it to me.
Apparently as my wallet fell from the ride, money fell out of it and a few young men picked up the money. An employee working at the ride noticed this. But she failed to take any immediate action–such as notifying security–and the culprits escaped. When the ride was over I was directed to the employees on the opposite side of it, who had retrieved a few of the items. They pulled out a hat which included my wallet, $50, and my car keys, as well as a pair of glasses (which were not mine), asking if that was all the money and if there was anything else. I noted that my house keys and about $100 was missing, at which point said employee noted that she had seen culprits run with it. Her description of their physical appearance was at best vague, though as I spoke with security later it seems her remarks to them were more clear.
Another employee went to retrieve my house keys, and when he returned I told him to call park security, which they acknowledged as a good idea. That they did not do this immediately is a testament not only to incompetence but to general negligence either on their own part or on the part of the staff responsible for training employees. I walked away briefly, then my friend asked me if I had my diabetes kit, which I realized I didn’t; and I went back and asked them about searching for that, too. They couldn’t find it. At this point I asked to be directed to park management.
I was escorted per my request to the Guest Relations office, where they directed me around the corner to Lost and Found to fill out a form. All was remarkably civil at this point. While there I ran into the party whose glasses were missing; the young lady was attempting to explain to a staff member that she needed to drive back down to San Diego that afternoon, and they were telling her everything they could NOT do to find her glasses. I asked her what ride she had lost her item on; when I found out it was Green Lantern, I told her I had seen glasses in the hat, but they were without lenses. This of course was something the employees did not do. In any event, this was the same ride, the same set of incompetent employees, and the same interaction with Guest Relations that proved futile and displayed additional poor faith.
I filled out the form and went back to Guest Relations. At this point I felt entitled to a refund of my ticket. They refused. They did not offer anything to make my problem better; I told them that without my diabetes kit I could not drive home, and their first reaction was to tell me I could call a cab (with what money to pay them?); then they offered to call First Aid to get my blood sugar checked. As I attempted to explain to them that their own employees had not taken the proper actions and that I was unhappy, and that I should not run the risk of losing everything on a ride that was not advertised as anything different from any other ride I had been on earlier that day, they insisted that the customer acknowledges his own risk, refused to take any responsibility for what clearly is a ride that is not working and for the failure to take immediate action. I finally told them that they needed to stop giving me a run-around; which they almost openly refused to do. And at this point I used the word “bullshit”, which I feel entitled to use because I was rightly unhappy and they were not doing anything to make me any less unhappy.
At this point these people decided to call security on me, because that seemed to them (in all their infinite wisdom!) to be the proper solution to this problem. Security promptly arrived (promptly might be an overstatement). One security guard was able to settle me down–to an extent–but the other, while noting that there aren’t adequate surveillance devices in the area near that ride, made me less happy. I finally said that if they did not catch these men I would probably file suit. This second security guard then felt that it was best to ask me if this was a “threat”–to escalate the problem instead of soothing it–and when I looked at him, steely-eyed, and said “are you actually serious?”, he insisted that he was. A sarcastic response about how security had been involved (or not involved) in taking care of the real problem shut that down.
What gets to me, though, is what the first security guard said. He said that it was “a process” to find these guys, that they could not have gotten out of the park so quickly, and that there was a good likelihood that they would recover my property (which I believe includes my diabetes kit, which these men probably thought contained money–it did, but that’s only parking change). I respectfully disagree, but that’s beside the point. Had the employee who saw the culprits picking up the money called security right away–or directed one of the other 3 employees in the same spot to do so as she ensured the safety of the riders on Green Lantern–it would not have been nearly so cumbersome a process because they would have known exactly what area these men were leaving from. Instead, by waiting until I suggested they take that step, she ensured that the process was much more difficult, and forced security to search the whole park and watch footage from whatever inadequate (as the second security guard himself called them) surveillance mechanisms exist in that area, while launching them on a task that is almost certainly futile.
At this point First Aid finally arrived. They tested my blood sugar, which was fine–87–and proceeded to ask me a dozen questions about my entire medical history, including, finally, whether I needed an ambulance ride. By this point I was so angry that I refused to justify it with an answer.
I am asking for the following: a refund on both of my park tickets, and the parking pass; a return of the $100, and $50 to help towards a new diabetes kit. That, to me, is only fair. I do not make a terrible lot of money, and when I spend what I do earn on a day for amusement and recreation I expect it to be just that. I do not expect to be treated as a problem that others have created for me. And I do not expect excuses to be made for negligence. I expect to be told what can be done, and not what can’t. On none of these fronts is the behavior of any of the relevant employees acceptable.
Should I not get these, I will be forced to take action that I do not wish to take. But both to protect others who might find themselves in a similar situation, and to punish for how mine was handled, I would feel compelled to do this, and to make it worth my time to do it.
I hope this finds you well and it is clear that this situation needs to be rectified at the soonest possible date.
–Jason R. Goetz
Author of The Bubble Boys and The Decline of the Epic?
Now to connect this with the Great Books and why my program is 100% necessary in an age which no longer gets it:
The Great Books are a testament to achievement. Reading them properly gives you an idea of what to do in certain situations, and how to do it; and it gives an ethical background that is sorely lacking without the backdrop of 4,000+ years of human experience. Read properly, they give an individual a sense of right as against wrong, good as against bad, and better as against worse–while offering many different and reasonable approaches as to what fits in any of those categories. They likewise display both competence and incompetence and allow the reader to pick between the two. While I see people who have read them improperly pursuing things incompetently, I feel incredibly strongly that those who read them with care and diligence and who get the right things from them have little to fear in this regard–they will wind up as competent, grown men and women who can select appropriate methods of action quickly, and be decisive about it.
But more than this, they give an individual a compelling look at all facets of human nature. The number and variety of human beings who are depicted in the classics, both fiction and non, runs the gamut of types of men. There are lazy men and hard-working men, prosperous men and poor men, prudent men and careless men, wise men and imbeciles, strong men and weak men, men prone to violence and men devoted to reflection, lusty men and celibate men, rash men and cowardly men, responsible men and men who make excuses, and so on and so forth, with every extreme and every shade of gray in between covered in one form or another. By having read these things I am prepared for any situation; nothing takes me by surprise. I can read and respond to what I see in front of me, without illusions and without the prospect of surprise. Look at the dispassionate nature of what I write, the evident lack of shock at the behavior of those with whom I am disappointed but not shocked. And then look at how they behave–shocked that someone would be upset in my shoes!
What is clear is that people such as those working in this park lack any grounding in such a picture of human nature, and that they are prone to mistakes in judgment and poor decision-making as a result. The situation wound up feeling like a scene from Pascal’s The Provincial Letters–his collection of satirical letters directed at the Sorbonne (the French university of the Jesuit order, which suffered from a deep moral and ethical laxity). Pascal’s beef with these people is that they were justifying murder, robbery, and rape, and excusing them, calling it Christian charity to do so. He was simply disgusted. Of course nothing has changed–universities still justify these things, just in different ways and much less openly. I’ve posted on that topic four times in the last week, so by now you surely get the picture. And this is, of course, one of the consequences. A culture which is dominated by these ridiculous institutions–which I’ve already called monuments to our collective stupidity–will be prone to events such as this. Property is not secure, and the bonds that hold society together are rapidly disbanding. Every man is out for himself. We are back in a Thucydidean state of nature.
I am open to this being reblogged: these people should be viewed for what they are, in truth and in fact, and not for what they aren’t. It does no good for something like this to remain private, which would allow them to continue to act unreasonably and disrespectfully towards their patrons. It is not as though they have a great reputation to begin with, but poor and disgusting are worlds apart.
Until tomorrow–a much happier day, doubtless–hasta la vista!