Roller Coaster Day

We had big plans for Memorial Day weekend. Jane was gone with the High School band on a trip. We had decided to take the boys to New Orleans. We had just told them about the swamp boat rides and the Voodoo museum and the cool parks and food. They were excited.

The next day, our fridge died.

We bought a new one with the money earmarked for New Orleans and started looking for a cheaper vacation destination. That meant returning to our home town for free room and board at my mom’s house. My mom, whose fridge had not died and usurped trip money, was away on a vacation of her own. We’d go visit our dads and play board games and spend a day at the local theme park we had grown up with.

We arrived at the park shortly after it opened and went straight to a short roller coaster that made a high-speed loop, stopped, and then went through the loop again backwards. Neither boy liked it and immediately declared their dislike of roller coasters. We started to think the trip was going to be a bust, until Hal, the seven year-old, gave us a ray of hope on our walk away from it with “Well, maybe I kinda liked it. It wasn’t too bad.”

We forced them onto the next one, a steel coaster with a loop and speed but a smooth ride. They loved it. So then we convinced them to try the one where your feet dangle and they loved that one too. We then chanced the big old wooden coaster, which I hated but they loved, and we bought the picture they had snapped of us on the first big downhill.

Then I made my first mistake. Remembering my love for a particular ride from my youth, I insisted on riding it next. It was a cylindrical room that spins very fast and the floor drops a few inches and you hang suspended from the wall. Daryl, a cautious twelve year-old, said he didn’t want to ride it. “I don’t want to get dizzy,” he said.

We insisted he wouldn’t get dizzy.

We were wrong. So very wrong.

As the room began to slow down near the end of the ride, I could feel the nausea hitting me full force. Daryl whispered to me, “I think I’m going to throw up.” “Yeah, me too,” I responded. The attendant told us all to gather in the center of the room. I thought of the embarrassment of shutting the ride down if I vomited all over the floor.

I held it together long enough to exit, but I could feel the sour sensation high in my cheeks that meant expulsion of food and bile was imminent. “Come on,” I gasped to Daryl and then took off away from the ride. I hurried toward the nearest bathrooms I knew of but was certain I wouldn’t make it. I examined bushes and trash cans as I walked briskly by. Which would be better? I wondered. Into the bushes or rip the lid off a trash can? Either will be humiliating. Please let me make it to the bathroom.

Not only did I make it to the bathroom, but one of the private “family” ones was open. I entered and motioned for Daryl to join me. He had his dad’s handkerchief pressed to his arm – the centrifugal force having ripped the scab off a wound on his elbow. As we walked in, the cold air of the air conditioner lessened our nausea. We stood and rested and neither needed to throw up any more. Crisis averted, I thought to myself.

At this point, we headed to the dress-up photo store. I dawned a big fancy dress with a hoop skirt and matching hat, the boys and their dad wore jeans and chaps and old-timey shirts and handkerchiefs and cowboy hats. I held a fan and they all had guns and we posed in a western bar scene. I felt mildly shaky but the cool air inside helped.

After choosing pictures, my husband started talking about getting something to eat. Just the discussion made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t even fathom walking into one of the park dining areas, much less eating. I said as much and we adjourned instead to the kiddie area where Hal ran and played under the watchful eye of his dad. Daryl and I sat on a bench and tried not to be sick.

Thinking maybe a cool snack would help, I took Daryl to get Dippin’ Dots. I ate two or three dots and the nausea washed over me full force. I then sent Daryl back to the kiddie area to share the dots that I no longer wanted while I headed to the General Store in search of drugs. I found them.

After asking for the package of Dramamine, I attempted to read the fine print on the back to see if it would help with already-present nausea. But since I had opted for wrap-around sunglasses instead of my prescription glasses that day, not anticipating having to read anything small, I had to squint to make out the words. Big mistake. I pushed the drugs back to the cashier. “This will have to wait,” I said as I began to walk away in search of a bathroom. Realizing I had no clue, I turned back and asked the girl where one was. She pointed and I hurried off.

The door to the women’s room was open and I could see 3-4 women waiting in line. That won’t work, I thought to myself. After momentarily considering pushing to the front of the line and jumping into the first stall that opened, I turned instead to a worker coming out of a janitor’s closet.

“I’m about to throw up and there’s a line in the ladies’ room,” I said. She turned to another worker and repeated my dilemma. That worker opened the janitor’s closet, presumably to get me a bucket. No time. I stepped past him, hoping to make it to the big mop bucket but it was too late.

The mess was all over the sides and interior of the bucket. On the handle and the mop and the floor and the wooden raised platform nearby. On my hands and my shirt and my arms and face and sunglasses. In my nose and my eyes. My mouth and nose burned. The first girl grabbed a roll of paper towels and handed me a wad. I wiped and wiped and wiped. She handed me more and more. As I regained some composure, I softly apologized. She expressed regret that she didn’t have a mint to offer me.

After walking past the line in the women’s room to liberally splash water all over me and then returning to the janitor’s closet for more paper towels and buying a frozen strawberry lemonade, I returned to my waiting and family and explained. Food was now a serious dilemma but my dear husband managed to find a stand that had prepackaged deli sandwiches. The cheese was dry and the bread was  soggy but it worked better than the greasy burgers they were eating would have.

You are probably thinking, “Wow, what a rough/awful/stressful/crazy/fill-in-the-blank day you had.” But I wasn’t done yet. Not even close.

From there, we waiting in line for the log flume, only to learn that the ride had just broken. So we headed on to the rapids water ride. Signs warned about cell phones and stuff. I thought it’d surely be ok. I kept mine securily in the Roo Sport pouch that was tucked in the small of my back. Just to be safe, I went ahead and powered it off.

Near the end of the ride, the raft turned and I took the full brunt of a huge wave. The water rushed around me from the chest down. The Roo pouch puffed full of water. I began to worry.

As soon as I could exit, I extracted my soaking phone. It was attempting to power back on. I turned it off and looked for a place to dry it, the only place being the front top of my husband’s shirt.

That’s when stupid kicked in. If it wasn’t for a history of similar poor, I-knew-better decision making, I’d blame it on the nausea, the vomiting, and the sedative effect of the Dramamine. Maybe I will anyway. The boys wanted to ride the roller coasters some more and took off. I chose to watch them and their dad instead of joining them, my pants too soaked for me to want to sit in the rides.

Ooh! It’d be cool to video them, I thought to myself. And so I powered my phone back on. It was making little brief bumping vibrations but I started up the video camera anyway. It ran for 13 seconds and stopped. Annoyed, I started it back. 10 seconds and stop. Restart. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ride over. Oh, crap. What have I been doing?! I powered the phone off again. Took the case off and stared forlornly at the water that had been trapped in between. Started sucking water out of the headphones port, the micro-USB port, the speaker.

“Wow, that really does suck,” you might be thinking, but wait! There’s more.

We moved to another ride and my husband and I sat on a bench in the shade while the boys waited in line. Across the walkway from us was some landscaping with a smooth, flat section of clover in the sun. I stretched my Roo pouch on the clover to dry and then commented on my return that I’d have to keep my eye on it, especially since my credit cards and cash and driver’s license were in it.

“How many times are you going to tell this story and say ‘if only I’d taken my cards out of it.’?” my husband asked. After some hesitation, I walked back over to it and removed my valuables… but left the pouch where it was! It wasn’t even that wet.

A few minutes later, sure enough, I glanced that way and it was gone. I rushed down the walk, looking for anyone that might be holding it. I returned dejected and empty-handed. I loved that pouch.

I called this a roller coaster day, which means there must be ups as well as downs, otherwise it’d just be a horrible free fall. We enjoyed the boys having fun. We were amused when they actually managed to break the plates and win the pink square pigs they wanted in the carnival section. We had fun with the pictures. But there was one final crest before we left.

With limited hope, I walked in to the Customer Relations building just before we left. “I’ve been profoundly stupid today,” I started.

“Oh, I doubt that,” the lady countered with a gentle smile.

“Oh, trust me, I have,” I responded. “The most recent event was when I chose to lay my purple and black Roo pouch out in the sun to dry and it walked off. I’m hoping that maybe it was a good Samaritan that picked it up?”

“Did you have anything in it?” she asked, smiling more broadly.

“Why yes,” I said, still too drugged or beaten down to fully embrace the full significance of her question. “I had a number of receipts from here. One from the picture at the wooden roller coaster and one from the old timey picture place for $74.76 and, let’s see…”

“Did you eat a sandwich?”

“Yes I did,” I said, finally noticing her rifling through the receipts in my pouch behind the counter. “It cost the same as the roller coaster picture.”

She then told me as she handed it to me that the people who turned it in were concerned that someone had stripped it of its valuables and tossed it aside.

Well, I guess in a way, that’s exactly what happened. Although I had laid it out gently, not tossed it. And the phone? Well, the phone stayed off, spent some time in some rice until my research convinced me that wasn’t actually useful, then spent some time in the sun to help it dry out, and then journeyed home, where I powered it on and quickly got the pictures off. Time will tell if its survival was compete or just a temporary last breath.

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3 thoughts on “Roller Coaster Day

  1. Whew! That was a rough day! I know the exact spinning ride of which you speak. I had to be carried off of one to the nurse’s station years ago. I wasn’t right for over a week. It dislodged the odolithes in my inner ear and I had horrible vertigo. Glad you survived and that you got your little pouch back. I hope your phone works! 🙂 That rice trick has never worked for me!

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