Recently, my wife and I took our kids to a theme park for younger children. I made two observations — besides how expensive it is to take a family with several children to even a “lower-priced” park, and how convenient it can be, at times, to have two cell phones.
There were two differences between this park and most others, both of which made it better for our family — over and above the match between the ages of our children and the available rides. Number one, it had a dress code which was a few steps up from the parks with water rides. And number two, the median age of a ride attendant was more than three times what I had learned to expect.
At most parks, at least as I remember (and now I have to admit to myself how long it has been since I stepped into anything with “Six Flags” in its name), the average attendant is just out of high school. At this park, the average attendant was just out of the work force and into retirement. They were grandfathers!
I mentioned this to one of them, who was taking his lunch break when we stopped for ours. He offered an explanation: there is an adult retirement community about five minutes from the park, for residents aged fifty-five and above. The park gets a reliable and responsible workforce, while the retirees get non-taxing work to fill their days.
But it wasn’t just a matter of having “something to do.” Most teenage park attendants are getting their first jobs, and not at all anxious to remember that they were, but a few short years ago, the kids shrieking with delight on something as mundane as a Merry-Go-Round. These folks, on the other hand, were seeing the faces of their grandchildren. They were all smiling and having a great time giving rides to the kids, and it made a difference fit for one of those “priceless” Visa commercials. The workers were getting far more out of their jobs than a salary, and it was a pleasure to watch.