Each year at the middle school where I worked for twenty years, we had a student health assessment day in which students were checked for basic health issues. With the help of our local hospital staff, students were checked for their flexibility, hand strength, heart rates and other health indicators using basic, non-invasive tests. As part of that assessment I annually assisted with heights and weights. After checking the weights of about a hundred kids – I found myself getting bored and started messing with the students. Middle schoolers can be difficult to deal with but they are also fun to mess with because they are so gullible. As the students stepped onto the scales I would ask that they hold their breath as I recorded their weights. Without hesitation they would inhale real big and wait until I said they could breathe. When that got boring I asked that they stand on their tip toes. Sometimes I would say we needed them to step on the scale and face the other direction. It was hard for me to not laugh out loud. Those were fun days.
But, here is another good example. During my tenure at the school, I secured my bus driver license and would occasionally drive students to various events and activities. Each year I would take a group to a campground for a day long retreat. The drive included a very steep hill that required the bus to climb on our return trip. School buses tend to move very slow up a steep hill and I convinced the students to lean forward in their seats to help the bus negotiate the climb. It was a hoot watching them in my rear view mirror follow my directions without question. The serious look on their faces and the silence on the bus while they leaned forward was indication that they really believed they were making a difference. Finally, one of them would notice me laughing and realize I was playing a joke on them. Gosh, I almost miss those days.
People will follow directions – sometimes to a fault. There was an episode of one of our favorite shows, “The Office”, in which the company boss, Michael Scott, and his idiot assistant, Dwight Shrute, go on a sales call using directions provided by their GPS. Following those directions to the letter – they drove right into a lake. As funny and idiotic as that is – I have to admit that, although I hope I would never follow directions to that degree, I am prone to do as people say – sometimes without question. A good example of that was this past weekend during the most hilarious boat ride of our lives.
“It’s A Small World” is probably the most obnoxious of all Disney attractions. This classic boat ride has been around since Disneyland opened and as one of the original attractions – will probably never be removed. Some people love it. Some believe it would be better if each rider was given three softballs to throw at the evil little figures that sing non-stop. While at Disneyland last weekend – two other couples who we came to know while in Loma Linda (Amy and her boyfriend, Mark, Marcello and Martha) joined Lisa and I on this mind-numbing ride. After a long day in the parks it seemed like a good way to take a break and rest our tired legs. As we lined up to board the vehicles, the Disney “Cast Member” instructed all six of us to enter the boat via lines “4” and “5”. Okay – those were the directions and so like good cattle – we mooed our way through the turnstiles obediently.
After we were seated, having squeezed our fat asses into these two small rows, we realized the comedy of the moment. Only a few other people were in the boat and they sat in the front two rows. Between us and them was one empty row and we realized the cast member had made a mistake in loading our boat. We had room for one row per couple – but here we were pressed into the two back rows – looking like idiots.
As soon as the boat left the docking area and the round-headed dolls began singing their obnoxious song, we felt the front of the boat raise out of the water. I would think that one of the important aspects to working this ride is understanding basic theories of water distribution. To say the least – our boat was not ‘weight distributed’ evenly. None of us are really small, light-weights and as soon as the water started rising just outside our seats, Martha screamed, Lisa grabbed my arm and the few people in the front of the boat turned around to see what the commotion was. They had to notice we were much lower in the water than they were. We continued down the long-winding canal laughing and screaming at our predicament. One of our friends, Mark, is a rather large, muscular guy and it was toward his side of the boat that water rose steadily. We tried leaning in the opposite direction to even out the weight distribution – but it did little good in leveling out our boat. In the meantime we could hardly see anything ahead of us as the front of the boat had lifted enough to block a clear view of anything to the front.
“It’s a world of laughter – a world of tears…,” over and over the song played as we tried everything we could to stay afloat – I even suggested that we use my old bus trick and lean forward and we laughed even harder. Finally, we neared the end and (wouldn’t you know it) the ride broke down. We could see the unloading area just around the corner – but all the boats were stopped for reasons we never understood. We continued to laugh, squirm and lean away from the rising water while waiting to be set free. In the meantime the evil little devil dolls kept singing,
“It’s a world where boats sink and people cry – If we don’t stay afloat then we all may die.”
At one point I offered one of the cast members ten bucks if they would let me get out. That only provoked a frown from the worker but everyone in our boat cracked up – including the strangers in the front of the boat who we were about five feet in the air.
Well – all good things must come to an end and finally, mercifully, thankfully, we pried ourselves loose from the boat and walked free. We were alive! The rest of the night we all had the song ringing in our head.
I think it finally stopped playing in my head sometime Tuesday afternoon.
Sometimes it is good to follow directions. Ask anybody who has ever put together a child’s toy. Better follow those instructions or something just won’t work. But, there may be times in life that a person needs to question things. We should have asked why we were being seated in those two back rows. It should have been apparent to at least one of us that we had enough poundage in our group to warrant a boat all to ourselves.
Next time you go to Disney – ride “It’s a Small World”. But, I suggest you sit in the front and take some softballs. The view is much better up there.
Have a magical day!