Now where was I? Ah yes, my preoccupation with the goth scene.
I’d say around sophomore year in high school, my choice in attire started to get darker. Subconsciously, I hadn’t really noticed. That is until my friend Jeff and others in school started pointing it out. And I liked it. It felt natural to me.
All those years as a child, trying to fit in and get proper trendy clothing like the popular kids whose families had lots of money-wearing silly things like pegged Levis, acid wash denim, Zubaz, Air Jordans, Guess overalls with one strap hanging off, the African themed multi color shirts, Z Cavaricci baggy pants-I could never really afford that stuff, nor could a lot of it fit (I was a husky boy). I tried to fit in, but never really looked the part. Of course children can be cold and mean. I was called “lame” by my peers as early as third grade. – – I’m getting way off track here.
The point is, someone in school, a senior, took notice of my “style”. We never really became friends, but he did make me a cassette tape of so-called “goth” music, and he pointed out a local record store in town that carried the genre. I could literally write pages on my discovery and introduction to the goth scene, but I must stay on track.
Eventually I befriended the people at this record store. It became my everyday hangout. A manager there was a longtime “goth” and “rivethead” and others there were also very knowledgeable of that genre. In a farming town like Salinas, and the surrounding cities in Monterey Bay, this was the goto local place for alternative music outside Santa Cruz. After senior year, and beginning community college, I worked there at “Music Zone.” That was my first legitimate job.
Essentially, I was just a cashier, helped customers locate items, and helped clean-up. It was such a small hole in the wall store, that there was no real advancement. The management was established, two guys did orders as well as CD/LP trade-in, while the rest of us did customer service. It was the most kickback and social job I ever had, just hanging out with friends, talking about music, our projects, going to shows etc.
Of course it couldn’t last forever. I had it in my mind that Salinas was getting too small. I should move up north more towards San Francisco. So I (now somewhat regretfully) moved back in with my mother and siblings in Santa Clara.
Wasn’t long before my mother began to resent me staying at home a lot. It was my fault of course. The transition and still being shy, the usual hard time breaking the ice and starting a new. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Unlike Salinas where I walked everywhere, in the South Bay a car was absolutely necessary to get around. At 19, I finally got my license. My (sometimes) father was nice enough to provide me a cheap used car. With that I also became the ride for my brother and sister. That itself was an unpaid job. Getting up at ungodly hours to take little sister to here student government meetings oftentimes shortly after I had gotten home from a club or show. Later, my little brother would require the same treatment.
The money I had saved up from Music Zone was soon exhausted. Again my mother grew quite tired of me doing nothing and spending her money (what little she had). Fortunately I had kept in touch with one friend from grade school who still lived in the area. Lee was a lead at Paramount’s Great America, while his older brother was also a supervisor. They got me a job at Section 815, a unique section as it only housed one attraction, a ride called The Xtreme Sky Flyer.
Essentially the Sky Flyer was a giant swing. Up to 3 riders/flyers attached to cable via a flight suit harness were raised to the height of 150′ where they were instructed to pull a ripcord, drop down and swing around for a few minutes. It was a paid experience that started at I believe $20 per person. I was part of the flight crew, had nothing to do with the sales.
As flight crew, you were trained and assigned to one of 3 sections daily. (Let me see if I can remember the darn names This was back in 1998 season.)
Section 1: Introduction and flight suits/harness. Basically laid out the suits for the individual flyers based on size, and instructed them how to get in, and pushed them on down to:
Section 2: Expedite. Here was where you lead flyer to the gate at the flight line, inform them more of what to expect and do, and let them in when the flight line was clear for the next victim… I mean flyer(s). [side note: Was also in charge of cleaning flight suits immediately if there was a protein spill(someone puked), urination, blood loss, or combinations of all three. In my time serving on the Sky Flyer, I’ve witnessed some puke, a lot of urine, and one count of a bloody nose. Xtreme!]
Section 3: Flight Deck. This the real meat and potatoes of the team. After being cleared onto the flight deck, the rider meets the team of Flight Commander whose in charge of lifts, strapping in the rider(s), building and attaching the ripcord, operating the cable motor to send them up, retrieve them when the swing comes to a safe velocity, and finally detach them. The Co-Pilot is simply there to confirm all the operations of the commander are to standards and make sure the flyers are (mentally) prepared.
Now I’ve got a story to tell from the commander perspective. We actually had regular season pass holder that we would see every week. Apparently she’s got a ready supply $20 to burn on weekends. That’s fine, except that she is also an exceptionally large lady. Nothing wrong with that, except that she barely fit into the flight suit. That’s okay, we got it done and with little trouble were able to send her up to launch.
Retrieval of the flyers worked two ways. 1) An automated system whereby the flyer would manually catch a loop attached to a motored reel of cable that would gently guide them to a stop over the flight lift to be detached. If they were unsuccessful in catching the automated loop 2) The flight commander had to do manual retrieval-He/she would have to go butterfly catching. Armed with a steel pole some two meters long with a loop/catch at the end, the commander would then wait for a safe speed to pass up the pole and loop and hang on to guide the flyer to a stop.
Just guess what our regular regularly missed? With her weight, the combination of gravity and momentum, it would definitely take a lot longer to retrieve her than say a single pre-teen child. Manually of course it was excruciatingly longer. That’s alright tho, except…
One week she brought two of her friends, and they were as massive as her. Of course I was commander for that ride as well. I didn’t think the lift was wide enough to clear all 3 of them, but it did. So up they went, and down they came, and back and forth over and over again. I should have timed it. Of course all three of them couldn’t successfully catch auto-retrieval loop. No, no. So there I waited.. And waited with the manual butterfly catch, but these were no butterflies.
Bare in mind, I wasn’t exactly slim Jim either, but it was three of them vs one of me. That time, the irresistible force beat the crap out of the immovable object.
It was my fault for misjudging their speed for when they grabbed onto the manual loop, I quickly found it was all too soon-And they ended up dragging and lifting me up into the air with them! My co-pilot then quickly dashed in to help stabilize us all. Haha!
I imagine I should have gotten a write-up, fired even, but everyone, including the three lady flyers, and my lead were all laughing so hard that they just let it go. Simple mistake and no one got hurt.
There was also a bizarre incident I observed at Great America one day while at lunch.
There was this nice secluded bench I used to sit at backstage between the cafeteria and the shows section dressing rooms. I would often have a book with me and often finished the lunch hour reading.
One day I heard yelling and screaming coming from the shows dressing room. It grew louder as it escalated outside. And what emerged was a sight that I imagine would go instantly viral on the interweb if only smartphones with video capture and YouTube had existed at the time.
Two actors, one costumed as Astro (the dog from the Jetsons), the other as Huckleberry Hound, had gotten into a heated argument over something. Yelling obscenities moved to pushing and shoving, then they were taking hard open swings at each other, and shortly went to rolling on the concrete for some ground and pound, where finally their character helmet/masks had fallen off.
That was perhaps the most surreal …thing I had ever witnessed. I didn’t stick around however. As soon as I noticed security come to break them apart, I faded away back to the Sky Flyer laughing my head off.
What. The. Fek?!
Jobs Part 3 – coming soon