Wednesday, May 4, 2011

There's Only One . . . Lagoon {part 2}

There's a park near the city, yeah
All the kids dig the Lagoon now
It's full of all kinds of girls
And rides and we'll be flyin' there soon now.
–The Beach Boys, Salt Lake City

Last week, I talked about my first two summers working at a local amusement park. I know I've romanticized it a bit, but it really was the best job I ever had. My twin {ten-years-younger} sister worked there too and she agrees that it really was a great place to work.

For today's story, I'm going to back-track a bit to mid-summer my second year. One of the office supervisors in our division had to quit in the middle of the season. To fill the position, the office manager invited a few girls from our division to work a shift in the office as a try-out for the position. I was one of those girls. She tried out another girl who had been working at the park longer than I had, and felt like she ought to give the job to the other girl but told me how impressed she was with me during my try-out shift. At the end of that season, two more office positions became available and I was once again asked to try-out for the position and this time I got it. I was really excited about it.

The Ride Office is a little house that sits on the north end of the parking lot. The other departments {except for Maintenance} have their offices inside the park. But we occupied this funny little house. The basement was used mostly for storage. The upstairs had three manager offices, a bathroom {for managers and office supervisors only :cool:; the area supers had to use a bathroom in an out-building next to our office}, a small common room where the ride supervisors would perform closing duties each night, and the outer office where the office supervisor on shift would sit. The desk was pushed up against the wall and the front and right side had these chest-height walls on them with a little shelf on top for employees to use if they needed to write on their time card or other paperwork. There was a little foyer beyond the front desk, just inside the entrance, but the office was still very crowded at busy check-in and check-out times. The walls around the desk helped give the office supervisor a little space to get check-in and her other duties done without being crowded by the traffic passing through.

There were three other office supervisors, the office manager and I, who were responsible for staffing. We rotated shifts and responsibilities. I began working in the office after my second summer and the park had closed for the season. The office remained open during business hours in the winter and so I worked through the winter. I was still in high school and so I worked three or four afternoon shifts each week. We answered phone calls for the Vice-President of the company, who happened to be the Ride Department head and had an office in our funny little house. We also made his coffee, did his filing, occasionally ran errands for him and one time a button fell off his suit jacket and I sewed it back on for him. In addition to this, each year the ride and department manuals were checked over to see if they could be improved in any way or for typos that had been missed in previous years, and so we were each assigned manuals to proof-read. Once the proof-reading was done, the manager sent them off to be printed and we assembled them into binders when they came back. When it came time to hire employees for the next season, we issued invitations to returning employees to be 'on crew,' and processed all the forms and tests that the ride employees turned in, entering all their information into the computer system.

In addition to this, we had a weekly training meeting along with the 16 ride area supervisors, directed by the coordinators and managers. We had manuals of our own we had to read. They information we studied helped us to know how to handle discipline on the job or complaints from guests or whatever else we might need. We had a test on the material we were given the previous week and how well we scored on the tests was factored into our end-of-season bonuses. In order to accommodate our entire department, we went out to the conference room in the maintenance building and sat around this gigantic conference table. We role-played possible situations that might come up and were thoroughly trained in management skills. And we got to be good friends too.

When the next season began our office responsibilities were increased. The office had to be staffed from 7:00 am until everybody was done for the night, which sometimes was after 1:00 am. We had two shifts; 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and 4:00 pm to closing. The office supervisor was responsible for making sure every employee that was assigned to work that day checked in on time. If someone called in sick or just plain didn't show up, then you called and found a replacement from a pool of "on-call" employees. Employees began checking in at 8:00 am for first shift, and trickled in throughout the morning, with the last check-in for that shift at noon. There was a mass check-in at 3:30 pm to replace those who were in at 8:00, generally the lifeguards working at the water-park. The ride employees changed shift at 5:00 pm and so there was another mass check-in at that time. It didn't take long at all for me to learn every single employee by name. It was really fun to get to know everyone who worked in our division.

Behind the scenes, we were responsible for coordinating 'relief' operators to make sure every ride division employee got a lunch break. After they finished their shift, we approved their cards and forwarded them to the accounting department. Each of the rides on the park had a telephone on it, so if any of the employees needed any kind of help the could call our office and we would page their area supervisor to come and help {the phones only worked on the park; employees could not dial out}. If maintenance assistance was required, the supervisor would let us know and we would radio the maintenance man on duty to let him know of the problem.

One of our biggest jobs was scheduling employees to fill every ride position every day. I think there were 38 rides requiring between one and five employees on two shifts, 20+ water-park positions on two shifts, approximately 16 relief positions and approximately 20 on-call positions to fill every single day. Plus we had to factor in requests for days off and special schedule circumstances. The scheduling was computer-generated and based on the expected attendance for any given day. The computer adjusted the number of positions accordingly and filled in as many employees as possible based on who was trained and authorized to work the various rides. But there were often holes in the schedule which we had to fill. And the computer system had a little glitch in it :lol:. It would schedule a person to work the same ride every time they were scheduled to work. OK. I exaggerate. It was more like three out of five at the same ride. My first year I was scheduled to work The Flying Carpet a lot. The next summer it was the Rock-o-Planes. So we'd go in a switch people around just to keep them from going insane. If you were doing the schedule for the next week, you worked M-F from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, providing a 1-hour lunch break for each of the office supervisors doing check-in and working on your schedule in between. The schedule was due to be completed and posted by noon on Saturday for the following week {or maybe it was 2:00 :confused:}. I was late getting my first schedule out, but never again after that.

I worked in the office for two winters and the following summers and really loved the responsibility. The very best part was that I got my own parking spot, with my name on it and everything.

Here's a little Beach Boys to end off for today. They performed many times at Lagoon, although that was before my time there. They wrote a little song called Salt Lake City and they mention Lagoon in it. Fun stuff.

Read more:
Part 1
Part 3


Jennifer Lovell said...

Well--another thing in common for you and me: office work is fun. I loved my office job at BYU. I loved keeping tabs on people and schedules and phone calls and anything having to do with keeping things organized. And, office employees always seem to find a way to have fun in funny ways, right? Like the time one of my coworkers changed all the key buttons on our keyboards on April Fool's Day (on old-fashioned keyboards you can move the letter covers around). That was fun to read about your office job at Lagoon. Plus, I love knowing about "behind the scenes" work : ).

Jill said...

Lagoon-a-Beach employees used to check in at the rides office? I didn't know that. Maybe because I was never in the office around then, and they got off before us, too. But I think by the time I worked there, the Beach had their own office. I could be wrong.

I was offered an Office Super position, too. But I didn't take it (or even try out) because I was going to be a crew lead that year, and I really wanted to be out on the park. It sounds like it would have been a ton of fun. I even considered it for the next year, but felt like I shouldn't work there a 4th year.

Like I said, loved the job. BEST EVER!

mom said...

I loved hearing the Beach Boys! I played it twice. I thought it was longer than that, like it repeated it self so Irepeated it.