“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
- Matthew 5:33-37
Let’s say you went to your local theme park. It could be any theme park anywhere in the country, but let’s say there was a section of the theme park that was called “Gotham.” When you arrived in Gotham, the “Joker” ride was temporarily not working (mechanical failure? Or they were short on staff due to the COVID stimulus, and no one wanted to work in the blazing heat?). Then you walk around the corner to the Riddler roller coaster. It was closed for the entire season due to “social distancing.” Let us not forget that no one was wearing a mask, and everyone was within inches of each other, even in the other roller coasters, but there was a sign, and I took a photo of the sign. Then you determine that of the seven people in your party, only two can qualify for the Batman roller coaster. Note: This is a generic theme park and any similarities to a park in northern Georgia that has a bunch of flags is merely coincidental. When the two of your party wait and wait and finally reach the front of the long line, the Batman roller coaster breaks down.
So, if you call an area of your theme park “Gotham”, but there is no Batman, Joker, or Riddler, can it truly be Gotham?
We paid full price for the tickets, expensive tickets, but we got only half of a Gotham. There was one ride that was a multiple villain ride. Then we had rides on the Poison Ivy ride, the Harley Quinn ride, and the Cat Woman ride. Each were similar to rides you might find in a county or state fair, but they made the grandchildren dizzy. They were happy. The one in the photograph is the Harley Quinn ride, which made the teen-ager extremely dizzy. The green superstructure above is the Riddler ride, closed for the season, and the blue superstructure in the distance is a loop in the Batman roller coaster.
We then got in a long line to have lunch. We paid dinner entrée prices for skimpy fast food servings and more for a small soft drink (or bottle of water) than we would pay for a mixed drink at a restaurant. It was that or go hungry. We got half the food we would normally get, and we shared. We were there for the rides, not the food.
And why was the line long? Everyone was buying a refillable souvenir cup, at over twenty dollars each. There was only one problem. When people arrived after waiting a half hour in line, they were told that if they did not buy over-priced food, they could not get their cup refilled. I did not see that in the small print, but we did not get the cups anyway.
And then, we learned that there was no way to pay cash. You could use cash to buy a pre-paid debit card, but the card was only good at the theme park. You could not get cash for what you did not use and nothing at the park was less than five dollars, so the theme park pocketed the difference. You expect the souvenirs to be overpriced, but…
And sixty dollars plus tax for an electric wheelchair seemed too much, but if my wife had to walk, we might have made it to only one small corner of the theme park before she collapsed. Maybe that was worth the price.
The two in our party that qualified for Batman finally rode the ride after they fixed the technical issue, and all but my son got to ride a different roller coaster. I rode no rides in the park and my wife only rode her expensive wheelchair. The teen-ager said that the flips and spiral spins of Batman caught up with him several hours after leaving the park. At least he had a glazed stare for a while. The ride that the younger children rode was designed for smaller people, and our son just did not fit. Okay, he fit, but it was painful. But that meant that the little ones got a roller coaster experience.
Since I was paying for most things in the theme park with my credit card, my son paid be nearly $200 for his share. And the strange looking ice cream was my wife’s treat, but we could have all eaten at a fast food place for much less. This was considered medicinal, as we were all overheated and about to collapse from heat exhaustion.
As I sat on a park bench watching the youngest ones get tossed around on a kiddie ride, I thought of the Pittsburgh airport Air Mall, of all things. Their rules may be different now, but each store in the mall had to agree to not raise prices for the captive audience at the Air Mall. Only ticketed passengers could shop at the Air Mall – within the secure area. If a store was caught raising their prices to take advantage of the captive audience, they would lose their lease and be kicked out. Other than an occasional book or a soft drink, since you cannot get through security with any large liquid container, I rarely shopped in the Air Mall. I got a pair of compression socks before my last trip to China. But I noticed a lot of stores that changed over the years, and I heard that the reason for the change in stores was often that the Air Mall meant what they said.
Yet, service to customers seems to be missing when the captive audience pays twice as much as they would outside the theme park. Then half the rides were closed because they could not staff the rides. Then some of the remaining rides broke down. It was less than a fifty-fifty proposition if any ride might be available, but we did not get any discount on the tickets, and then the rip-off of the pre-paid debit card that could only be used at the park, and you would never purchase the exact amount. The park always made money off the sale of the cards.
There is greed and then there is GREED. When we got home, we took the dogs that had been at a kennel (another expensive place) to the dog park, and we just might have had more fun – for free.
As for the Scripture, when you advertise rides that are closed for the season, you are misrepresenting the park. You are not telling the truth. And when you talk of everyone having their own truth so it doesn’t matter? That is pure garbage.
Even that said, when the children are six, nine, and thirteen, they will remember getting dizzy. They will remember the laughter. They will remember the smiles.
It’s the grumpy old grandfather that has to pay the credit card bill that remembers the other stuff.
And we may never come by here again. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. Let us enjoy the day.
As we arrived at the park that day, there was a light rain that stopped after we entered the park. The predicted thunderstorms did not come through until several hours after we left the park.
My wife asked me to stop the car after we all were buckled in for our return to the hotel. She gave God praise and thanked Him for allowing the thunderstorm to be delayed until the grandchildren had their fun. Yep, grumpy grandpa (Opa) looks at the price while sweet grandma (Oma) looks at the smiles.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.