Today’s prompt was “Write about your first job”.
It is a juxtaposition to grow up in a small, rural town that also serves as the summer getaway for hundreds of people from not-too-distant big cities. For two-thirds of the year, the population is about 3500 people in my hometown, the streets are quiet, and the lake is still. But in the summer months, the population more than doubles, the lake is always full, and the vacationers take over the town. One of the places that the vacationers like to frequent is the small amusement park, Conneaut Lake Park.
Conneaut Lake Park sits on the shoreline and houses one wooden roller coaster, rides like the Scrambler, the Spider, and the Tilt-a-Whirl, an impressive midway with all the games and food you could possibly desire, and a kiddie land. That kiddieland, in the summer of 2002, is where I cut my teeth on the workforce for the first time.
Two of my friends and I got summer jobs there together to have enough money to go to the movies whenever we wanted. I really wanted to man a ride in the main park, so I could see my other friends and talk to the boy I liked, but I was too young. You had to be 18 to operate the main rides and I had just turned 17. Off to kiddieland I was relegated.
Most often, I operated the jeep-go-round whose cars could spin. The kids, especially my regulars like little Giovanni, loved when I operated it because I would spin the cars myself as much or as little as each kid wanted. I was scrawny but I was committed! Sometimes I had to operate other rides like the boats or swings or caterpillar. The worst, though, was when I had to work the Little Dipper rollercoaster.
The Little Dipper was a tiny rollercoaster with a small hill and a couple dips that would start and stop by pulling on a gigantic lever. You had to time the stop perfectly or the cars would keep going, too. I hated working this rollercoaster. At 110 pounds, I was too scrawny to pull the lever and had to throw my full body weight at it to even hope to stop the cars. It was exhausting and, more often than not, I would also become covered in bruises.
One day, I faked an arm injury to get out of having to operate the Little Dipper. It worked! For the rest of the summer, I happily operated the jeep-go-round. I quit a couple weeks before school started because soccer practice was ramping up and I was the team captain. I never sought employment at Conneaut Lake Park again, but it’s still entertaining all of the summer folks, and the Little Dipper still remains.