So. The last hour at the park, and where everything went terrible.
We got in the line for Boulder Dash. Clearly everybody else had the same idea to get a last ride in. The line was long, possibly longer than it was for our afternoon ride. We started so far back we weren't even on the bridge over the main valley; the ride was far, far off in the distance.
And it wasn't getting much nearer. I believe they were running only one train, instead of two, baffling under any circumstances but annoying on a busy day like this. And ... once again ... people were just cutting ahead of us. Every park has some people who'll cut lines, but Lake Compounce has easily the worst line-cutting problem we have. As one pair of folks pushed ahead, saying, ``Excuse me'', bunny_hugger indignantly asked, ``Why should we?'' They said they had to get to the station. Well, we all do. They went on ahead. We grumbled.
I don't know why I was this bothered. I shouldn't have been. But when the next bunch of people came barreling though I decided to make a stand. This turned out to be a couple kids. They ignored me saying ``excuse me''. I touched one's shoulder to get his attention, and knelt down so I wasn't just towering over him. I told him he was line-cutting, and that was very rude and he shouldn't do it.
Then the people behind us got into the act. I don't know why. They looked vaguely like minor characters in Portlandia, the ones who react to stuff instead of move things forward. The guy scolded me for making a fuss over some kids who were just coming back from the bathroom. The woman told me I shouldn't be grabbing other people's kids. I protest the characterization of tapping the kid's shoulder as ``grabbing'', but goodness knows what it looked like from her. So I went back to the kid, knelt down, and said, ``She's right. It was rude of me to grab your shoulder to get your attention and I should not have done that. Just as you should not be cutting in line.'' And let them go because, what, did I want these kids with us? Of course not.
Now it gets bad.
A couple minutes later the kid came back, leading an angry-looking guy demanding to know who it was grabbed his kid. Before the kid could say anything, or I could say anything, the couple behind us did, pointing out how it was totally me that grabbed the kid and they told me how I shouldn't have done it. The father yelled at me for daring to touch his kid and warned that if I wanted to fight he'd meet me in the parking lot when the park closed.
The couple behind us had no problem with us fighting, and were rooting for it. bunny_hugger demanded they say why they had any business in this, and they said it was because we were causing the trouble. Meanwhile, I looked at the guy and worked out whether I could repeat my Red Roof Inn overnight experience, looking intimidating enough to make him go away. Pretty quickly worked out that I couldn't. So I told him: his son was a line-cutter and he shouldn't be doing that. He promised to meet me in the parking lot and stab me.
So with as much wisdom as I had on hand, I turned to the side and ignored the guy. He ranted a bit more, to a blank wall, which was probably the best I could do. But I did break down a bit to remind him that his son was a line-cutter. And, really, I should have pointed out that he was showing his son that he could get what he wanted (I'm not sure what he wanted at this point) by threatening people with violence. On the other hand, he clearly wasn't getting whatever he wanted, for all his threats. The guy left, back to his spot somewhere up by the station.
And with this bit of misery done, the couple behind us resumed scolding us for all this. They challenged us to say how this was line-cutting when the kids had just left to go to the bathroom or whatever their excuse was. Park signs --- none of which were around --- do explain that it's line-cutting even if you're just going to the bathroom, and that it's Not Allowed. But there weren't signs there, and there wasn't a definition of cutting on the park map, so we didn't have at least the weight of the printed word to back us up.
(Later on, I realized that if the kids had run off to the bathroom, then we should have seen them leaving the queue, and we didn't remember seeing that. It's possible that they left before we joined the line, or that we didn't notice them leaving. But we had been in line quite some time when the whole thing started, and there weren't many people leaving the Boulder Dash queue. I make a very slow-moving detective. But in my heart, I'm confident the kids had been on some other ride with their mother, and then run through the queue to join their father who'd gotten on line first to save a space for them.)
They kept fighting with bunny_hugger, challenging us to get park security if we were so sure we were right. We weren't going to leave the line for that, obviously, and didn't carry phones to call them; we told them they could call if they were so sure they were right. bunny_hugger asked why they were even arguing this anymore. They said it was because she was ruining their day. I kept up my staring off into the distance, not responding to the provocation, and eventually things started dying down to a sullen silence.
Another couple, young adults, came barrelling through. We cast out ``excuse me''s to them, which didn't slow them down at all. The couple ahead of us, who'd been mostly neutral in the struggles, agreed that was obnoxious.
bunny_hugger was worried about the father's threat to stab me. I wasn't seriously worried, until I noticed: he was still at the ride station. And was staring at me, which I only caught in glimpses because I was pointedly not looking at him. He had started pretty far ahead of us and could easily have taken a ride and gone back to his business, and he wasn't.
On the one hand, all the time-saving he had managed by getting his kids to cut the line was wasted. On the other hand, why was he waiting for me to get there?
As we got to the station and he stayed near I got more worried and decided that I would say something after all. We went to the queue for a back-seat ride, delaying us one more train, so the guy was putting his seat belt on before he could see I wasn't on the train with him. I got the ride operator's attention and told him, the guy in that seat had threatened to stab me in the parking lot. He went to get security but warned me that if the train got back and discharged before security arrived they didn't have anything they could do to restrain him. Fair enough.
He had his ride. Apparently the ride operators let him know that another passenger had complained about his threat of violence, because as we were strapping in, he ran over to me and yelled that if I had a problem with him I should take it up with him in the parking lot at 8:00. And then I saw park security coming up the exit path.
After our ride the operator said that security had to talk with me too, and I had figured that. I recounted the story as best I could. But there wasn't anything they could (or would) do besides tell us to not go near one another the rest of the day, which wasn't much. The rides were closed for the night now. I would have felt vindicated if the guy had been formally thrown out, even if it was a meager symbolic measure. The security people told me that line-cutting was against the park's rules and they take it seriously; and I do now regret saying that no, obviously, it's not.
So we walked out. Slowly, at first, so that we didn't get out of sight of security; there's parts in the exit queue and the bridge where ambush would be plausible. I did a sound job of not looking for the guy; so good a job, in fact, that bunny_hugger had to steer me away from paths that would've brought me near. I literally did not see him. We got some food from the supermarket, got back to the hotel, ate in misery while I tried to insist that this wasn't all that we'd remember from the tour.
And that's it. A fantastic day turned to ashes in the last hour.
Don't tell me I shouldn't have started things. I don't want to hear it. bunny_hugger went to the Usenet group rec.roller-coaster looking for sympathy --- amusement park enthusiasts tend to be supportive of park rules --- and got mostly told, ``well, what did you expect would happen?''
It could have been much less bad, if the father had taken his kid's shaming, or if the couple behind us hadn't been stirring it up, or if the couple ahead of us had made their weak protest earlier, or if security had acted. But it's ultimately my fault. If I had just rolled my eyes and grumbled about the kids we'd have ended the night and the amusement-park visiting happy.
And the terrible thing about this, besides everything else? We got to ride Boulder Dash in the back seat. It turns out the back seat is a fantastic place to ride this from. All the hills are more thrilling, all the air time better. It's a fantastic roller coaster, and we had one of the best rides we've had on anything from there.
But after this ... how can we go back there?
Trivia: From the 16th of August, 1924, the New York Herald Tribune ran Sanford Jarrell's expose of the Flying Dutchman, a Prohibition-skirting cruise ship offering gambling and liquor to wealthy clientele. The 23rd, the Herald Tribune reported the firing of Jarrell, who had hoaxed the newspaper. Source: The Paper: The Life And Death Of The New York Herald Tribune, Richard Kluger.
Currently Reading: Media Hoaxes, Fred Fedler.
PS: Reading the Comics, October 14, 2015: Shapes and Statistics Edition, with infinite monkeys (again).