Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Disneyland - A Break

Greetings, Jungle lovers!
Pecking out a post on this old Underwood.
The keys are sticking in this moist heat, greatly diminishing my words per minute and sapping my energy.
Perhaps I should take a hot tea.
Our British companions swear by it.
I suppose the goal is to get one's insides close in temperature to the outside.
This creates an illusion of "cooling off," when, in fact, you have merely "heated up."
Boiling a kettle over a camp fire in an Indian jungle is a treat.
Dry heat and smoke mingle with the sopping dankness to create a miniature hell.
The fire keeps the mosquitoes at bay---somewhat.
Wish I could catch a break.
A break.
That reminds me of many moments spent in tucked away break areas of the Park.

Adventure/Frontier Attractions cast members had several options, but perhaps the most convenient was the break area just outside the Adventure/Frontier offices located above the River Belle Terrace.
I remember pushing through the door to the back area, the wooden "gate" tucked between the Bengal Barbecue and the Riverbelle Terrace, and strolling through the narrow alley past kitchen carts and racks to the base of the stairs.  They were a bit rickety, with a wood railing, and they led up to the area office.
At the top of the stairs was a covered porch, with vending machines along the wall to the right, picnic tables to the left and the door to the offices straight ahead.
Beyond that door was the world of "Operations" and area managers.  Scheduling was done in there.  The schedulers never had to buy drinks when our crew went out after work.  Keep your scheduler happy, was my motto.  The person who had a role in assigning shifts was indeed a good friend to have.
Sure, there were seniority and union contract issues, but after those variables, the schedulers and the managers with whom they worked laid out the weekly calendar in every detail.
Want a closing shift?
Need a day off?
Last minute trade of a shift so you can make your final exam?
The scheduler could help---or hurt---you.
That is why I would walk past the vending machines, step through the door and say a cheery "Hello" to our friendly scheduler before turning around, heading back out onto the porch, and grabbing a Cherry Coke from the vending machine.
I would then sit down at an open picnic table or grab a seat with any of my friends who might have the same break schedule.
After hours on one's feet at the helm of a Jungle boat or loading passengers, those 15 minutes of break time were sublime.
I best recall the cold, damp nights in winter, bundled in my jacket and scarf, sitting in the break area over a cup of bad coffee or hot chocolate. 
Sometimes I would be the only one up there. 
It was cool.  I was in this little hidden world "backstage."
I could hear the Mark Twain's whistle and the Jungle's drums and animal sounds.
Down below, I could see the backstage area of the Golden Horsehoe and the dacning girls would click by in their heels and fishnets.  Ah.  It's good to be here!
Those cups of coffee in the cold nights still warm my memory.
My feet would get cold around mid-shift and that was it.
They would not warm up until I got a hot shower or bath on my return home.
No problem.
The worst day working at Disneyland beat just about anything else I had ever experienced.
So I would sit in the break area and let the steam from my cup warm my face.
I might get involved in some trite conversation, lighthearted joking or involved planning as to post-work activities with my comrades in nametags.
The time would fly.
A glance down at my watch would reveal that 14 minutes had passed!
Uh oh.
I would leap to my feet, bolt down the stairs, burst through the gate and hightail it through the heart of Adventureland back to the Jungle dock and my rotation.
Heaven help you if you took a long break!
The justice that would be meted out by the other skippers in your rotation was swift and severe.
It usually involved keeping you in your boat.
When the time would come for your dockmate to step in and take over the helm, he would not be there!
Or he would smile, along with another member of your rotation---and your lead!---as the two of them bumped each other to break after break while you were stuck in the boat for another trip (or six) through the Jungle!
Breathless, I would tap my fellow cast member on the shoulder as I made it back to the dock.
"You're bumped!  Enjoy your break!"
I am pretty sure he did.