Monday, June 30, 2014

The Vomitpocalypse.

During the Holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) PCY has a ton of extra people residing in it. It gets packed. On the plus side during the holidays, its really easy to get plenty of food. In addition to all the extra feedings, there are a ton of smaller groups/families that cook up a bunch of food, park in front of PCY, and pass it out till its gone.(Its gone fast) Its a good experience for all, the usual sight is a family SUV that rolls up with about 100 prepared meals in styrofaom containers. Usually the food is pretty awesome, and very welcome. However, one of these trucks giving out food was either run by a sociopath or just had shitty cleaning standards. It was tacos, I remember distinctly because I was one of the people from this particular truck.

That night around midnight people started getting ill. A TON of people started getting ill. Like, 100 people or so were getting violently ill. There were people vomiting everywhere. People were rushing to the bathroom, or the nearest trashcan, or sometimes just standing over the storm drain and puking directly in it. Most people made it somewhere, but as the night wore plenty either didn't make it, or were too exhausted from constant heaving to move. Diarrhea was also part of this sickness outbreak, and when there weren't enough toilets available in the bathroom, people either improvised or they shit themselves. It was disgusting, and the messes were appearing faster than they could be cleaned up. I was lucky in that I was one of the first to get sick and got my puking out of the way early. So by the time things were getting really bad I was down to the dry heaves. (The stress however caused me to go psychotic and I started hallucinating badly, but that is a story for another time.)

By the time the sun came up, there was vomit all over the courtyard. The whole place reeked. There were spots all over from people not making it, various people had been awoken in the middle of the night from getting puked on, every trashcan had gallons of puke in it. The aroma wafting up from the stormdrain was indescribable. But that was nothing compared to what awaited me in the mens room.

There was vomit and shit just fucking everywhere. On the toilets, in the urinals, dried on the walls, in mixed puddles on the floors. It was inches deep in some parts of the restroom. It was hard to walk without stepping in it. There was not one single fixture out of 30 or so that was anything like useable, and people were still getting sick. The stench was just overwhelming. If my stomach hadn't already been empty I'd have probably vomited just from walking in there.

Somehow though, the staff got it cleaned up and life was back to normal within about 3 hours. I don't think the staff at PCY gets enough credit for what they deal with at times.

Friday, June 20, 2014

To the thinker sitting in Darkness(The Rustbelt)

To the thinker sitting in Darkness(The Rustbelt)

I call out to you, my fellows trapped in the suffocating ignorance of the culture of the Rustbelt. I cry out to you my brothers and sisters of suffering. Painters, Poets, Philosophers, Lyricists, Social Workers, Artists, Wordsmiths, Dancers, Singers, Musicians. People with something to say and people wishing to hear it spoken. People whom feel deep in their bones their must be more than working to live and living to work! I call out to you all! For you are my fellows, my source of hope and my source of agony both. Like you I stare into the abyss of myself and wrestle with despair and bliss. I too feel the song but can't hear the music, I know the rhythm but can't speak the words. Our longing is expressed in as many forms as there are people, but no matter the form it takes we all share one thing in common, we are thinkers.

And I call you by our true title, thinker.

Thinkers we are and thinkers we are damned for being. For we find ourselves often trapped within a vortex of vilest shit that condemns us for being on the one hand, and forces us to accept it as Mother and Father on the other. Our only source of sustenance is this reeking vile excrement that we are told is better than a home cooked meal, and like an addict we believe we must poison ourselves over and over again in order to live. This shit and this vortex have names, and though we have never been taught them, we must learn them now. For like in the old days of exorcisms learning the name of the demon gives us power to combat it. The shit in which we struggle to not drown is called "anti-intellectualism", and the vortex itself, the playground upon which we petulantly act out our petty roles is the "Rustbelt".

We thinkers have within us a drive, a desire to grow and improve a vital part of ourselves that we cherish more than life itself. Our art, our craft, our words, our expression, our way of life and our unending desire for something better. We give birth to things within the deepest holy of holies of our very souls and we seek to bring those from our depths out into the physical world. To show both the world and ourselves who it is that we really are. For us titles are meaningless, jobs a mere source of sustenance and names a hindrance. Our true name can only be whispered when our soul is free to sing. Our meaning in existence only felt when our art flows from that part of us which we will never understand.

We crave growth, we crave expression, we crave expansion and interaction. But most of all we seek. Not one of us knows what we seek, and we all choose different ways of expressing our quest and showing our journey, but nonetheless we are seekers. We are thinkers, one and all.

I have heard your cries, your moans of agony as you struggle to retain your soul amidst the anti-intellectual horrorstorm that has become the culture of the rust belt. I have felt your pain as you are attacked for daring to know a single fact that doesn't appear as a bubble in a youtube video. I too have deep scars given to me for the sin of being actually different, not different like the fools who've made a uniform out of hot topic clothing, but actually, truly different. I have read your Facebook status's as you vent your rage at being poorer for having gone to work after someone dine-n-dashed on you. I know all too well the cold hatred that sets in as you labor on your cherished craft only to have some toolbag interrupt you to ask "But how are you going to make money off this?"

You are not alone. I know that you must feel that way, isolated, assaulted, misunderstood and stereotyped. You think yourself crazy and fight the growing despair that comes with being told over and over that you are a failure, that you are flawed. You have heard it so many times in so many ways that you have become tired of defending yourself from the charge, even to yourself. The mocking voices chip away at your soul as you seek some solace, some purchase to rest upon for even a moment. I say again to you, you are not alone. You are battered, you are lying on the floor bleeding and struggling for breath, clumps of your hair floating in pools of your own blood, but you are not dead yet, and you are not alone.

I say to you that the sliver of hope that you have nourished is true. You are not the flawed one, the culture around you is. You are not a failure, you have been failed. And while you have made plenty of mistakes and rightly suffered the consequences of those, you have been made to suffer what you deserved times ten by the very fact that you have refused to relinquish possession of your soul.

I say to you, my fellow thinkers whom sit in the darkness of the Rustbelt, my arrows are aimed not at you, but at the very ideas the rust belt has come to embrace. In drawing my string taught I shall aim my words not at people, but at cultures and ideas. It is then in this vein that I shall target Ohio, not merely because it is what I know best, but because it is the most concentrated home of the vicious idiocy that has come to typify both the rust belt and conservatism in America.

Is that fair? If you've read this far I suspect that you are already well past the point of caring.

Surely someone will point out the obvious reality that not *EVERYTHING* I say applies to every single person in Ohio, that elements of what I criticize can be found all over the country. Others will contend that elements of what I rebuke can be found all over America. But these are such obviouss truth that attempting to use them as a counter argument is an Ouroboros of self defeating stupidity that I shan't even bother with it except to mock the fool who speaks it. To even utter the words aloud is to admit a fundamental ignorance of the world that is beyond my capability, or interest, to correct. Of course I cannot in one single polemic grasp at the breadth of the whole problem, so I must limit myself to the most target rich environment I can find. And that environment has the name "Ohio".

For there is only one Rust Belt anti-intellectualism, and Ohio is its prophet.

Let us consider first the plight of the working thinker in Ohio. For in Ohio being a thinker at work is not only unpopular, it is dangerous. Not to the establishment, but to the thinker. For should the fact that you possess a nuanced understanding of the world ever slip out at work a thinker will quickly find themselves hopelessly unemployable.

I once went to an interview for a job at Circle K. They wanted someone to work nights in a dangerous location (Kenmore Blvd) and I was desperate for anything, so I showed up eagerly, ready to accept the job even fully knowing I would detest every waking moment of it. I interviewed well; the manager was impressed, she wanted me to start right away and went to make my training schedule, all I needed to do was fill out some paperwork and complete a questionnaire on the computer. Happily I did so, relieved to be so close to receiving a steady (if miserably tiny) income. The test was simple enough, a few personality questions and some basic math skills. I finished it easily and sent it off.

And then I learned that because I had indicated that I felt that I worked best alone I was automatically denied. For the crime of possessing self direction and the unforgivable idiocy of admitting to it I could not be employed, and could not re-apply for 90 days. Yes fellow thinkers, I let my guard down for a moment that day and the rust belt culture sniffed me out. A job at the very bottom of society with the very lowest of wages was denied me because I was "unqualified" to push buttons and try to upsell customers on fructose water. I possessed the slightest hint of nuance in my mind and that was intolerable, the manager was crushed because she really needed someone to work but the test said no, he is unemployable. What could she do? I was asked to leave the premises but assured if I answered the test differently in 90 days I would be hired if the spot was still open.

That is my story but I'm sure each and every one of you has one like it. You keep your guard up and try to act like you are just another obedient PINO. A Person In Name Only, your lone goal in life to make money for your corporate masters, overjoyed at the prospect that the very moment you let your guard down you will have what little dignity you have hidden away ripped from you. How many of you have lost employment over something completely meaningless to your job skills, and then sunk into despair? How many of you have endured the jeers and barbs of your family for your "failure"? How many times have you despaired of ever "making something of yourself" when even the most base of jobs insist that you are undeserving of even so lowly a position as asking your betters if they want fries with that? I know your pain and I feel your agony. I know too how my words burrow into you like a needle into an abscess, painful at first, but as the toxin starts to drain you begin to regain hope.

And here let my words, my arrows, fall upon my chosen target of Ohio like so many raindrops. For no one really lives in Ohio, they merely exist. And when residents of Ohio die it is decades before they have ceased to draw breath.

You thinkers in Ohio know the hunger but you haven't tasted the feast. You are surrounded by people who can rattle off a dozen Ricky Bobby quotes but have no idea who Nietzsche is. They have detailed, nuanced opinions about the Cleveland Browns but don't know who Joe Biden is. When you ask them who they are voting for they react with hostile confusion, like you just shouted at them in moonspeak. No amount of willpower can make an Oak Tree grow in the Sahara and no amount of education or desire can nourish a thinker in Ohio.

The sign over the Highway as one crosses over the Ohio river reads "Welcome to Ohio, the Heart of it All". If that sign were to be truthful it would read "Welcome to Ohio, Through me you enter into the State of woes, Through me you enter into eternal pain, Through me you enter into the population of loss. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here." Every job application in Ohio should have a checkbox that reads "I agree that meal breaks are ++ungood to the bottom line and if my employer gives me one during my 20 hour shift I should shower them in gratitude." Every employee handbook in Ohio should be subtitled Hard Work Sets you Free!

"The light of a single candle chases away an entire room full of darkness" some fool has no doubt told you before, nodding at the sageness of their own wisdom. Of course, the room isn't filled with darkness, its filled with muddy polluted water from the Cuyahoga river. And of course the problem of not being able to see in the murk is secondary to the fact that you are fucking drowning. They insist that you merely need force yourself to be a bit more optimistic, that you just aren't "trying hard enough yet", when the real problem is that your arms are tiring and you are desperate for a moments rest.

If one seeks to have drama in the workplace in Ohio all one need do is walk into the office Monday morning with the barest hint of a contented smile on your lips. This meager sense of hope will be treated by your co-workers as a direct challenge, and entirely without your knowledge they will have conspired to wipe out that tiny glimmer of soul before your lunch break. By Tuesday night you will be drinking again. By Thursday night the irrational and vicious stupidity of your fellow employees will have you associating the name "Smith & Wesson" not with guns, but with sweet blessed release.

You carry out food to sneering people whom consider themselves your betters. People whom got a job because of Daddy but don't hesitate to tell you about how much harder they work than you. Grey hairs that look down their noses at you for taking the easy route in life. Why, back in their day they worked part time in order to pay for their small studio apartment while they saved up enough to pay their way through school. Imagine their hardship, you know nothing of such struggles. With a wave of their hand they dismiss you to your deserved fate as they discuss their troubles amongst their friends. They wonder at how you can look so ragged and worn down when you can't possibly know stress like they have. Why, just last week their precious Mr. Frumples had a nasty case of the sniffles and they rushed him off to the vet. The whole situation cost them thousands of dollars and now their Caribbean Cruise might be delayed. Oh how they stare at you, envious of your clearly carefree existence. All of this happens while you try to ignore your humanity and smile through the hunger pangs, serving them food you cannot possibly afford.

How many times have you had to suppress the urge to slap someone when they mention "Mexican Food" and "Taco Bell" in the same breath without a trace of irony? How many of you have felt a wave of depression roll through your body as some smug boomer pats their round belly contentedly, saying "I ate at Golden Corral today, had a gooooood meal."? Your muscles clench while you refrain from correcting them with the truth, which would read thusly:

"I shoveled bland forkful after bland forkful of flavorless aromaless mush into my mouth while congratulating myself on being able to afford such extravagance. I watched an unsupervised child dip a whole chicken leg into the chocolate fountain between bites,  then toss it under a table when he didn't like it anymore. I tried the same thing myself and that kid doesn't know what he was missing, chocolate covered chicken is delicious! Oops, time for my insulin."

There are those in Ohio whom work tirelessly to remedy the situation, to create a healthy community of artists and intellectuals. But how can this be done when you are surrounded by a culture that is actively hostile to the very idea of community resources? How can you form this community of artists and intellectuals when the only ones whom care are yourselves? How can you build something that none of you has ever seen or experienced yourselves? The thinking community in Ohio has died long before most of us even came of age, how can you be the beating heart of a desiccated corpse? Only dry bones and a few rotted scraps of sinew are left on the corpse and yet you seek to try and animate it into dancing. I say to you leave, go somewhere where your efforts are not so fruitless, where you toss not your pearls before swine.

I remember well the contrast of my present days to me days in Ohio. I remember the thinking of those that surrounded me and how terribly vacuous, empty of all empathy and meaning, their jeers were to me. It is a common affliction in the rust belt when one tries to develop oneself.

Your peers look at all the work you have poured into developing your mind, into creating your art. They sigh with exasperation and tell you that if you only put that kind of energy into your job on the factory floor why, your corporate masters would surely notice your dedication. You would be promoted within only a few years! Getting twice the responsibility and work for a $0.38 an hour raise, the high life! Why did you spend so much time and energy in this project when it hasn't made you any money? You should be like them they firmly insist, speaking to you like you are a stubborn, spoiled child. Let the light behind your eyes wink out and seek satisfaction in life from the approval of your boss. Why, just think of the pride you will feel when your numbers are 1.38% higher than your coworkers! You'll be feeling more fulfilled than you ever knew you could! Surely the path to happiness lies in proving how much more obedient you are than your peers. And when you disagree they snap at you, raising their voice and demanding to know when you will finally stop being immature and accept "The Real World".

Clearly, there is just no hope for you. Why oh why do they even bother at all?

The choice a thinker in Ohio faces is a dire one, either uproot everything and risk starting over in a new state, hoping conditions there are better; or die a martyr's death, uncelebrated, hated, misunderstood, and worst of all, belittled for even having cared enough to try. It is true that the thinkers that remain in Ohio are offering the cure for the condition, cold water in a desert wasteland, but as you cannot force a horse to drink you cannot convince rust belt culture that it is suffocating itself.

For myself I say that I am better a homeless man in San Antonio than I ever was employed and struggling in Ohio. For here in this city there is art, and food, and music, and culture in abundance. Even living on the street I can still attend free performances of traditional dance, enter vast art galleries on their monthly free days, and enjoy the merits of a downtown library six stories tall. Here the food is flavorful and potent, the tea sweet, and the people kind. The level of intellectual stimulation and artistic satisfaction available in San Antonio to me, a homeless man, cannot be had for any price in any city in Ohio.

It is the nature of thinkers to struggle forever, both with themselves and with their environment. An artist of any form will always have pain in their life so long as their art wishes to remain relevant. If we are to accept the inevitability of this conflict, why not choose to have this fight on a sandy Caribbean beach instead of a fetid swamp? Why not choose a place where at the very least you can take a rest when you need, to have friends apply cool salves to your wounds while you catch your breath? In Ohio the thinker will have to function as both warrior against himself and doctor to their own rapidly festering wounds, is this truly preferable? Why have this fight in a place where not only will you have to contend with the pain this process brings, but risk sepsis and gangrene as well?

Ask yourself, how many aspiring thinkers have you known whom lost this internal fight not necessarily because they were weak, but because the environment they were in never allowed them to heal? How many potential great minds and talented artists have you watched succumb to madness, despair or addiction? How many have you seen blow their minds out either with drugs or a colt .45? Do you not think they could have been saved, could have gone on to become great contributors in their own right if they had been given a reasonable respite when they needed one? How often have you heard someone express the sentiment that they "deserved it" for daring to push their own boundaries and falling off the balance beam in the process?

I left Ohio because my grip on sanity was slipping and though I knew I needed help there was just none available to me. Believe me, I looked, there was nothing. I spent literal months obsessed with the idea of killing myself, able to think of nothing else while I forced a smile on my face and spoke in a cheery manner to yet another customer. I pushed myself to make numbers all the while I felt a pang of intense envy every time I heard about someone dying on the news. I had given everything I could and my mind had been pushed to its limits and beyond in my struggle to not only learn to think, but to survive the openly hostile environment I found myself in. I had nothing left to give and when I had lost the ability to function at all in life, when I reached out for help as my last gasp before the waves rolled over my head for the final time, I found that the meager charity available in Ohio made the Orphanages in Oliver Twist look downright pleasant.

As a desperate last act I cashed my last pay check and bought a bus ticket to San Antonio, my lone hope being a homeless shelter with mental health assistance I had learned about on the internet. If that didn't work out I fully intended to kill myself.

I got lucky.

I found help.

I got better.

And though my current mental stability and peace of mind are heavily a result of the work I have put into myself since that fateful day, and though I do not regret making that decision, I detest. *DETEST* that I, or anyone else for that matter, was ever put into that position. No one, not even people I personally hate, should ever be forced to make such decisions. Yeah, I got better. But that would have never happened if I hadn't gotten lucky first. Had I remained in Ohio I would surely have died in a ditch somewhere, screaming at demons only I could see.

My personal story is not a testament to the "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality that is so prevalent in Ohio, it is a direct refutation of it.

The Schizophrenic mind, as seen from the inside looking out.

So living with two competing views of reality is going to be hard to describe. What it is, what it feels like, and how it all works, and how I hold it together is still something of a mystery even to me. These viewpoints on reality are not only incompatible, they are very nearly diametrically opposed. Furthermore, both views fear each other. As was demonstrated very strongly to me in past events, which viewpoint is dominant determines my behavior to a rather startling degree. (Actually to a degree that makes me very uncomfortable) There is no persistently dominant one, they switch seemingly of their own accord and on their own schedule, I am not consciously aware of the change. It is almost as if there are two different Prester John's at times. However, it isn't necessarily as clear cut as that, as the less dominant viewpoint has a tendency to occasionally intrude itself very very rudely, which is an incredibly stressful experience. I'll start first by describing in detail what each of these views are, and then how they interact.

1.) The Mundane

Although there are two distinct worldviews in my head, fortunately they do not have specific names. (And oh thank you god for that) So here I shall give them names to simplify communication. The first mindset is what I will call The Mundane. In this worldview I am Prester John, mentally ill man in my early 30's with a very checkered past. I came from an extremely psychologically abusive/poverty stricken childhood. I have spent most of my adult life trying to escape from my upbringing, to understand and overcome the many deficiencies it left in me. I have made many mistakes, held many very strange beliefs, and done many odd things over the years. All of it can be explained as untreated Mental Illness that started in my mid teens and progressed from there.

I am currently getting real help for my issues for the first time in my life and recognize that this will be a lifelong issue that I will need to learn to cope with. In many areas of my life, owing to a combination of my bizarre childhood and my Mental Illness, I am no more developed than a teenager. I am working as best as I can to rectify those deficiencies and to cope with my condition. My political views are fairly left leaning and I am generally optimistic about the future of the Human Race. I feel a strong desire to improve myself and become able to function in normal society.

2.) The Mystical

I shall call the second worldview The Mystical. In this worldview I am Prester John, highly evolved soul who came to earth to help the Human Race overcome the external influences which currently rule it. (The Illuminati, whom are yes, probably 4th Dimensional blood drinking reptilian aliens, but I'm not entirely sure. In either case, they sure as fuck aren't human.) My soul is not natively human, as it developed through its incarnation cycle on a different world with a different race vastly more sophisticated and more developed than Humans on Earth. I have been through relatively few human incarnations. This makes it difficult for me to interact with people, as they simply are not evolved enough to understand me, and I haven't learned how to simplify myself enough to be readily accepted.

My childhood was carefully planned for me and like the rest of my life has been under intense micro-management from my Guides. I have an extremely important role to play in the events unfolding on this planet, and I have been put through a rigorous and accelerated curriculum to prepare me. I am currently failing. My reach may have exceeded my grasp. My human body has proven to be too frail for the struggles I have put it through, I have been unable to force it to continue onwards. I broke an energetic circuit somewhere in my Manipura Chakra and my healing arts have proven inadequate to treat it. I am currently being a coward by taking my medication. (Psych meds have been designed by the Illuminati to target the Pineal gland, or 3rd eye, which is what allows humans access to higher realms of consciousness.) As a result I am probably going to be passed over for my Grand Destiny soon and will slink down into mundane nothingness, a failure of a life that wasted a human body that could have been better used by a soul capable of getting the job done.

In many areas of my life, owing to being at least 100 years ahead of my time, the uninvolved people around me misinterpret either my intentions or my reasons and attack me out of fear of the unknown. My political views can be summed up as "I'm pissed I'm not living in a worldwide version of The Venus Project and I'm even more pissed that the people around me are completely unprepared to entertain the notion of such a world. I am not optimistic about the future of the Human Race. Society is getting ready to collapse and I can't wait to watch it all burn. (I understand the condition of the planet is not entirely the fault of Humans, but I'll be damned if a large majority of them aren't practically begging for it.) I feel a strong desire to smash the current power structures in society and help replace them with something more evolved.

There we go, whoo, writing that was exhausting. That is literally the first time I have ever written down the belief system that comprises The Mystical. It is actually a massive relief to get it all out in the open. Now, a few things before we really start to delve in deep here. I have always had both worldviews to some extent ever since at least my early teens, if not earlier. Both views have developed considerably over the years. In each worldview I would say that many themes have remained consistent, but details have changed dramatically, particularly in the case of the The Mystical (If there is interest I could post a description of an earlier incarnation of the The Mystical, which if anything was considerably more bizarre than the present one.) There is a reason why I spent so much more time writing about The Mystical, and that is because it has been the dominant worldview for the majority of my life. In one form or another, I have long held it close as "the truth". It has dictated my actions greatly, as I have always followed the instructions I was given. (Either by my guide, or in earlier versions..........Enoch. Yes that Enoch.) On the other hand, I have several times retreated completely from the mystical worldview and embraced a completely materialistic worldview. During my most notable and intense Manic Phase I became a Libertarian. Somehow, believing that I was a Randian Superman made me a WORSE person than when I believed I had a grand destiny to become a super powerful warrior. (I guess what I'm saying is fuck Libertarianism forever)

One further note, each worldview has a couple of important variations depending on what symptoms of my mental illness I am experiencing at that time. In Schizoaffective, the Schizophrenic symptoms and the Mood Disorder(Bipolar type 2 in my case) symptoms can occur separately, or together, creating a wonderful cornucopia of unpredictable behaviours. The mood disorder can be either Manic or Depressed, which is fairly self explanatory. The Schizophrenia in my case takes three main forms, seeing the connections between apparently unconnected things (that only I can see) experiencing that I have psychic powers, or outright visual/auditory hallucinations. Generally the Shizophrenic symptoms work on a severity level, where if I am having visual/auditory hallucinations, then I am damn sure using my psychic powers to suss out the connections between major players in world politics so that I know where to steer the future.

This makes for essentially three important (but to others totally unseen) factors that have dictated my behavior over the years. Either I was in a mundane or mystical dominant worldview, and then it was like rolling dice for where my symptoms where at the time. Under the right circumstances, this could go my way and I could pull off something pretty impressive. And then I could wake up the next day, the dice coming up with a different result for my symptoms, and now I can't even come close to matching the previous performance. In short, this has made my behavior, and in particular my performance at jobs over the years rather............inconsistent. For many years I beat myself up pretty hard over this. I always felt the fault lie in my motivation, so I would strive to find ways to motivate myself or just brute force willpower my way through.

Some examples:

I drove (and instructed) 18 wheelers for 2 years. During much of that time, I was in a totally mundane state of mind, manic like a motherfucker, and the Schizophrenia was mild, just a good "gut sense" that I would follow from time to time to avoid trouble. My performance was remarkable. I needed little sleep. I was excited to get up every day and work, I loved the challenge. I purposefully took the highest risk/reward loads I could and I ran illegal as all fuck. (Let me emphasize the illegal part. My log books were an immaculately kept lie) My company loved me, I was a top 3 performer out of 800 drivers in my division every week. I only slept 3-4 hours a day and would wake up and vault out of bed. Food was always amazing. I loved life, I felt like a little God. I was living proof that with a little hard work and dedication you could make it in this country no matter what your background was.

and then I woke up one morning and it started to get different

I stayed in my completely mundane worldview, but my symptoms changed. The non stop Mania started to give way to Depression. My Schizophrenia went from "gut sense" to full blown hallucinations of demons attacking me. I started to under perform. I started to make mistakes. I started missing deadlines and making bad judgement calls. I didn't have the energy I used to have. I needed way more than 4 hours of sleep, and it  took me an hour to get moving in the morning. I just couldn't do it anymore, despite the fact that I really really wanted to. I tried everything to try and recapture my motivation, my boundless, endless source of strength and energy. I started to become terrified of the truck and dread every moment I had to drive. I lost all my nerve. In short order I racked up speeding tickets in 3 different states and tore down a bank sign, my only at fault accident. Each of the tickets I could have fought, I would certainly have won at least 2 of them, but I just couldn't muster the strength. I shut down. The tickets passed through courts without contest. With only a few days before my CDL was going to be suspended I turned in my keys in disgrace. I had gone from golden child to abject failure in only 6 weeks.

Another example of how this works would be the time I spent as a webcam tarot reader, a modern version of the old "Dial A Psychic" hustle. At the time I was very much into the mystical mindset, and I was slightly (but not badly manic). Getting the job seemed like a natural thing to do for someone with my psychic talents, and for a while I did enjoy it and made good money. The schedule of the job also suited me, because me hours were from whenever I felt like to whenever I felt like. I tried to keep a rough schedule, but it was always a relief that I could just decide not to work if I wanted too. (Pretty much everyone involved in the psychic industry is pretty goddamned flaky so an irregular schedule doesn't even raise an eyebrow.)

Mania in my experience is usually triggered by environmental factors. My first day as a webcam psychic I got pretty lucky and got a ton of customers. I made a couple hundred bucks in around 4 hours. The next morning I was manic, eager to launch my career as a successful psychic. I was planning into the future, fantasizing about what my lifestyle would be like with a steady, large income. I had natural talent, all I needed  was to build a brand and really get my name out there. I made a twitter account, started a new blog, and made a separate facebook account just for my new psychic persona. I did very well on cam for the first week or so, and in my spare time I worked on my social media. I was constantly thinking of ways I could expand myself and get my name out there. I made advertisements on craigslist, I contacted local psychic fairs, anything I could do to get myself out there. It was all coming together for me. I had finally found my calling. I felt great and started taking long walks by the lake just because I had the energy.

Then the Mania faded.

It faded fast this time, literally overnight. One day, I'm feeling great. I had made good money, had garnered a number of twitter followers, and was working on an ambitious series of articles for my blog. I stayed up late writing, and went to bed content and happy with myself, excited for the morning to come so I could resume working on my blog.

I woke up much later than usual, and the first thing I thought of was my blog. But instead of excited I felt deep anxiety about it, I didn't want to write at all. I shrugged my shoulders and figured today was as good a day as any to take a day off from my social media activities. I felt really tired, and the thought of cooking my breakfast just seemed not worth the effort, so I didn't eat. I dawdled all day online, not really doing much of anything, I didn't even feel like playing WoW, it seemed like too much effort. As the day wore on a sense of dread started to come over me. I could feel it intensely in my stomach, something was wrong, but I had no idea what. As the hour approached that I normally got on cam the feeling of dread only intensified. By the time I sat down to log in and turn the camera on, I was feeling such dread and anxiety that I was nauseous. I put these feelings aside and forced myself to go online with a fake smile and upbeatness I really didn't feel. I did very poorly, made little money, and logged off early.

I took the next day off, figuring I had been working really hard lately and just needed some time to recharge my batteries.

A day off turned into a week. A week I did literally nothing that accomplished anything. I didn't even play videogames or watch movies, I just sat at my computer. I would half read something, get bored, and then switch to reading something else. Or I would start a flash game up, and after 10 minutes get bored. I couldn't find anything to occupy my attention for more than five minutes. I took frequent naps, and sometimes just lay in bed. All the while I was starting to feel intense guilt over abandoning my social media and my job. Every day the shame and guilt got worse, until I finally forced myself to go back online.

I did terrible. Despite working more hours than normal, I had almost no customers. And worse, it seemed like my psychic powers were all gone, I felt like a giant fraud the entire time. During the few readings I did give it was agony. The entire time I felt like a giant fraud. I wasn't psychic, no one was psychic. I was just exploiting the trust of gullible people who just wanted someone to tell them it would all be okay. I couldn't shake that feeling that I was a giant phony. What the fuck was I doing trying to portray myself as some sort of light energy working psychic? I couldn't even look at a my social media, because it was all a giant fake and I felt deeply ashamed for ever having made it. This went on for a few more weeks, my feelings of being a phony growing worse and worse, my customer base dwindling down till even my regulars never came by, and I just gave up. Forcing myself to log on was a mighty struggle of willpower that would begin early in the morning. By the time my appointed our came to work I was a stressed wreck, desperately trying to hide my real feelings about what I was doing. As soon as I logged off for the night I instantly started dreading doing it all over again tomorrow. In the end I just abandoned the entire thing.

The truck driving and online psychic are two pretty typical examples from my life. I could explain many more examples but the pattern stays roughly the same. Start new thing, do very well at new thing, feel great, like a living god with an inevitably successful future. Then wake up one morning and all my energy is gone. No amount of willpower allows me to produce results like I had been. What work I manage to do is of poor, substandard quality. Then, after a brutal struggle with myself to keep going on, I abandon the entire effort. I feel such great relief the moment I decide to walk away. Relief that is slowly replaced by shame because I have let people down again with my failure. After a couple of weeks I don't think about the project at all anymore and just pretend it never existed.

One thing about these two rival viewpoints is that they are both entirely internally consistent. Either one can justify itself logically, albeit not rationally. They both also feel the same to me. One is not inherently more valid than the other, at least internally. I can recognize how irrational the mystical viewpoint is, but is only because I've learned how regular people think over the years. Without that, I would never for a moment consider that there might be something wrong with the worldview. I have no problem whatsoever behaving as if it is entirely the truth, it is never questioned. And when in the mystical mindset I will occasionally think of the mundane mindset and feel a pang of guilt over how naive that thinking is, how simplistic. I must have really been a coward to have backed down from the "REAL TRUTH". Conversely, when in the mundane mindset if I think back on my life all I see is a repeating pattern of irrational behavior and choices that frankly, I am horrified at. As a result, by and large I don't think back on it. When in one mindset thinking about the other one just feels painful, so I don't do it. I am only able to do so now because of the aid of medication, and it is still quite taxing. Even the act of recognizing that there are two rival mindsets is difficult, I have to draw the line mentally. Under normal (non-medicated) circumstances I would barely be able to process that there are two contradictory mindsets in me, for the most part there is nothing inside that alerts me to the conflict. I absolutely experience a ton of anxiety as a result of this split mindedness, and to some extent both are always vying for my attention. Until I was medicated I was never even ware of this source of anxiety, or this source of internal stress.

Moreover, when I switch from one mindset to another I am not really aware of it. There is nothing inside me that seems to change. It just happens. I do not notice any difference. No alarms go off, nothing at all seems to change inside. Even though my behavior, desires, and reactions to things have radically changed it does not seem strange to me in the slightest. The transition is always smooth and unremarkable. I am just going forwards, just like I always have. It is the same with all my symptoms really, even the manic/depressive. I never notice anything strange when I'm manic, I'm just being my awesome self. When I'm depressed I wonder why the fuck I can't seem to get motivated, because I really really really want to get back to being my awesome self. (Realistically, I could compare my past obsession with becoming manic to a drug addiction.)

The only way I have come to recognize that two separate viewpoints exist is because I am a very careful observer. I at least would note that the reactions of people around me would sometimes change dramatically, and I was genuinely puzzled by it. Only by many mistakes over the years and careful self reflection did it ever occur to me that the problem was ME, not everyone else. The first time the possibility that I was the one causing people to behave differently towards me was quite a startling revelation, it had never really occurred to me before. Later, through therapy I came to realize that the two differing mindsets existed, and that they switched over time. Only recently because of going off meds for three weeks did I come to realize that I DO NOT HAVE CONTROL over which viewpoint is dictating my behavior. In those three weeks I reverted fully back to the mystical mindset, as well as having several rather sharp manic episodes.

Now I have noted before that depending on a combination of dominant mindset and presenting symptoms, my behavior changes. I will now try to describe why it changes.

Keep in mind that when a change occurs, either presenting symptoms or mindset, it happens on a subconscious level, I am not really aware of it. I'm going out for a walk in the park today because I feel great and have the energy to do so. I always do this when I have energy. I am sitting here reading for 5 hours a day because it is vitally important, I always do this. I don't realize that I am behaving differently, nothing seems to feel at all different inside me. Paradoxically, the internal landscape *HAS* changed dramatically. The reasons for the behavior changes is because everything inside has indeed changed. I am just totally unaware of it, even though the alterations are significant.

The mystical mindset for example, views the world as unevolved, ignorant, threatening, and hell bent on self destruction. When in the mystical mindset I feel a strong compulsion to try and convince the world of the need to evolve their understanding, specifically everyone needs to understand things the way I do. As a result I have at times been a ranting madmen talking about conspiracy theories to anyone who would sit still for five seconds. I also feel compelled to obsessively research conspiracy theories. I will listen to "higher" music, Enya, Enigma, Deep forest, and the like. I also feel an immense and ever present sense of dread. I just know deep inside with every fiber of my being that something terrible is about to happen and I have got to try and do something about it. There is no choice for an evolved being like me, I can't simply stand aside and watch as the children play with gasoline. Other main points with the mystical mindset is its intolerance of repetition or drudgery. The mere idea of doing the exact same thing over and over for 8 hours is terror inducing. I must have stimulation, I must have new things to think about, I must have new experiences. If everyone else was as evolved as I am they would see that too. Keeping schedules is also noticeably harder in the mystical mindset, and there is a great deal of anxiety as a result of this. The last thing to note about the mystical mindset is the absolute certainty that I am doing the right thing, that I must find a way to fix the world, to make people understand why they should all be more like me. Hand in hand with this certainty is the knowledge that I am an alien presence on this planet, this is not my home, I do not belong here. My future is not in my hands, my guides arrange every experience that comes my way. I receive instructions on what to do next in the form of strong intuitions, or knowings. I do not question what I regard as the instructions from my guides/higher self, I just do it. It is all connected, it all has a reason, I am merely being lead to non stop trials to help me to see that. The terrible future is coming, the thing that I have known ever since my youth that would happen, will happen soon. I must prepare. I must follow my instructions so that I can be ready to help as many people as I can survive the coming ordeal.

As a result of all this, I behave very differently in the mystical mindset. Even my appetite changes, as I constantly indulge in overeating as a way of escaping the stress of the world's imminent demise.

The mundane mindset by contrast, is much calmer, and generally more productive. Working a job is considerably easier (although still very difficult to do long term), I am interested in academic subjects but spend less time reading. I go out more, socialize more, I pride myself on keeping to schedules. I am ambitious, I want to learn new skills, I have some goals for the future, some ideas about how I would like to live my life. The world is a strange place but I can learn to understand much of it. Things and events simply happen, they simply are. There is no grand overarching spiderweb of connections. I do not have special perception that other people don't, in fact I don't even worry about that. I just wanna get through my shift and go out and have a good time. The exception to much of this would be if a good manic fit hits while I am in the mundane mindset. In which case, I will become obsessed with achieving success in something great. I don't do anything without it being part of some master plan to propel me into either the world stage or wealth beyond my dreams. I try to learn whatever skills I think I need as fast as possible and become super critical about the slightest perceived flaw. Other than that, when in the mundane mindset I am a pretty regular guy. I have more stories about crazy shit I've been involved with/done than most, but I do not advertise this fact nearly as much.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

....and I hope they stay dead.

It is Sunday morning, and I am standing in line in the basement of Travis Park Methodist church. The basement walls are unsmoothed stone, the original foundation of the building dating back to the 1800's. It is here that for the past 15 years a hot breakfast has been served to the homeless. Pancakes, eggs, fruit, hot coffee and cold milk, it is one of the best meals of the week for my fellow brothers and sisters of the street.

The line is long and wraps around the outer walls of the basement. As always it is packed, around 200 homeless have come. The mood is upbeat and pleasent, as it normally is. For the most part folk are polite and patient, the opposite of what one would expect considering how haggard (and sometimes smelly) many of the attendees are. Here a schizophrenic woman, normally barely capable of a regular conversation, plucks away at a piano and improvises a haunting yet beautiful melody. There a group of 8 or so individuals sits at a long row of tables painting, their artwork over the years adorning the otherwise bare walls in a truly unique art gallery. Here sits a group of teenagers chatting loudly about pokemon, there sits a lone veteran savoring his first cup of coffee.

As I stand in the slow moving line I pull out the book tucked under my arm and begin to read. Just before I enter the cafeteria one of the Pastors of the church waits with a friendly handshake a list of prayer requests. Graying hair and neatly trimmed beard, he is affable, his handshake firm and his concern for his fellow man genuine. Spotting my book he asks "Good book?" I close the book and show him the title. THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM. He grins ear to ear.

"Good" he says in his gentle baritone, and with a look of supreme satisfaction continues "And I hope it stays that way."

This has often been my experience with the majority of Christians whom work with the poor and homeless in San Antonio. A complete rejection of modern conservatism and its approach to otherizing the poor. I had never believed that there were truly people whom actually did follow the teachings of Jesus until I came here. Time and again, my cynicism has given way as an outstretched hand, a warm smile, and a plate of hot food were offered by the most genuine people I have ever personally met.

No matter what the Paul Ryan's and David Brat's of the world might believe, and no matter how delusional the Tea Party might be in its modern version of "right thinking", Christians whom truly serve the poor and whom truly believe in the teachings of a man named Jesus do exist. And here in San Antonio at least, they are a growing majority.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Haven for Hope; Members Side

Families entering the Members Side dining hall for Lunch.

Compared to Prospects Courtyard, the Transformational Campus, or "Members Side" is a whole different experience. I cannot stress how night and day the difference is. Members side has a variety of living programs housed within it, but it is typically dormitory style housing. You are indoors in a very nice air conditioned building, the food is a much higher, fresher quality (although the portions are somehow even smaller than PCY) There are flower beds and grassy areas for the children to play on (about 175 children in total live there with their parents), a very nice non-denominational chapel for worship, computer labs, classrooms, even a small workout facility. The atmosphere is very like that of a college campus, just one where everyone there happens to be homeless.

There are a multitude of services available to people on Members Side. On members side you are also assigned a case manager, but one whom you meet with once a week. Your case manager has alot of resources, and can connect you with various people/programs to get your needs met. Need help filling out your FAFSA? They have people for that. Need a laptop to go to online school? They have a program to get you one free. Need a suit for a job interview? Got you covered. Bus tickets to go to the foodstamp office? Done. Want to go to school to become a Dental assistant? They have a free on site training program. All told there are I believe 87 separate charities involved with Haven for Hope, most of them on the members side. There are a number of government programs that interface there as well, although I really couldn't guess at the number.

There are also a huge number of additional resources and perks available to people on members side. Every Monday Night Starbucks donates a shitload of free coffee and pastry. There are multiple yoga classes, meditation groups, bible studies, free transportation to local art museums, and therapy groups. The whole place is also remarkably open minded and not-at-all-like-the-rest-of-Texas when it comes to religion. The Chapel is purposefully devoid of symbolism related to any specific religion. There are a number of different religious communities on campus, even a group of Muslims who host a monthly "come learn about Islam" group in the chapel.

Member Side is generally open to residents of PCY, with a few requirements. You must have a valid ID and have been a resident of San Antonio for at least one year. Your record cannot include any sexual crimes or domestic violence convictions. You must also be clean of drugs and alcohol unless you are entering the "Recovery" program, which is really its own separate unit that happens to use the same chow hall. You get drug tested before admittance to Members Side, and get breathalyzed for THC/alcohol every time you enter. You are also subject to random drug tests at your case workers discretion. You must also be working steadily on a plan that you and your case worker create to get you an income and independence. It is typically expected to take two years for this process to occur.

Most people get into Members Side through the waiting list. The waiting list is typically around 2-3 weeks for men and about a week for women, though this can vary depending on the time of year. (The list is often longer around Christmas for example.) Some people get right on in to Members Side though, for instance families with children automatically get admitted on the spot(or put up in a hotel until a spot is available), as well as a few others who get referred from other agencies, but I'm not real familiar with the details of how that works.

Life at Haven for Hope; Prospects Courtyard.

Prospects Courtyard by day.

Haven for Hope is really two separate homeless shelters, despite all the programs being housed on the same property. The main division is between the Prospects Courtyard (Hereafter refereed to as PCY because that is what everyone calls it) and the "Transformational Campus", which is generally called simply Members Side. PCY is more akin to what most would expect from a typical homeless shelter. The concept behind PCY is that anyone, in any condition, from any location around the world, can show up at PCY and get 3 meals a day as well as a place to sleep, (almost) no questions asked. Members side is for people whom have qualified for one of the various programs available and is designed to give an individual the tools needed to get a place of their own and never become homeless again. I lived in PCY for about 10 rather hellish weeks, and have lived in Members Side since mid December. I will describe each separately.

PCY is.....hard to describe. It is a place to go to get off the streets, and is marginally better than living on the streets. (However, it is not unheard of for people to use PCY for meals/some of the services and sleep elsewhere). Again, the whole idea of PCY is that anyone in any condition can show up without a shred of documentation and receive food and a place to sleep. They will not turn anyone away. PCY is one of the few homeless shelters in America where it is permitted to be under the influence of drugs/alcohol. As long as you aren't causing a disturbance, the guards and staff won't bother you. However, drugs/alcohol themselves are absolutely not tolerated inside of PCY. As a result of this policy, you get alot of people with serious addictions living in PCY. You also get alot of people with serious mental illness living in PCY.

Living in PCY is rough. Some it is by design, some of it is by necessity, and some of it is because of the nature of the community it attracts. PCY provides 3 meals a day and occasionally an afternoon snack. The meals however, tend to be on the small side, and by the time you receive them, cold. PCY also provides a place to sleep, however the sleeping arrangements are a bit unorthodox. Each evening thick foam mats are passed out and the bulk of the residents sleep outside, on concrete. (PCY is almost entirely concrete, there is no grass anywhere.) Residents with a medical reason sleep inside, but also on mats on concrete. The mats themselves aren't too bad actually, all things considered they are high quality and reasonably comfortable. That is, if you are in reasonable physical health. Secondary "medical mats" are issued to those who need them.

There are a variety of services to residents of PCY that aren't housed directly in PCY but around the block near the entrance to Member Side. There is a medical clinic nearby where you can get a medical checkup, have prescriptions prescribed and filled, and get things like basic blood work done. The clinic is done on a scale relative to your income, so totally free of charge for those like me who have no income at all, or very cheap for those with some form of income. There is a warehouse full of donated clothing. Once every two months a resident of PCY may go to the warehouse and pick out two full outfits (2 pairs of socks, 2 shirts, 2 pants, a belt, a hat, a pair of shoes, etc) There is a dental clinic where a resident of PCY may have one service performed free of charge, and an Eyecare clinic with a similar arrangement. Each resident of PCY is also assigned a caseworker whom has a variety of resources available to them to help you get back on your feet. Each resident of PCY can also receive free weekly (or sometimes twice a week) counseling sessions through a program that connects residents with student interns from the nearby UTSA. There are also a number of programs available to help people with addiction/mental health issues, but I'm really only familiar with the mental health programs.

As far as what life inside of PCY is like, its rough. There is no sugar coating it. Security is heavy, and for good reason.You have to pass through a metal detector every time you enter and your bags will be searched.  This is because fights are very, very common in PCY. Most are just verbal shouting matches, but many often escalate into physical confrontations. When you are in PCY you are distinctly aware that you are surrounded by people who will not hesitate to strike you given the slightest provocation. Despite the fact that the guards usually break these up within thirty seconds, they are a near daily part of the environment. (One thing I want to note here is that I have often been impressed with the restraint shown by the guards when they are subduing someone.) There is also every shade of mental illness imaginable, from people who just want to talk about conspiracy theories to people who are literally arguing with invisible demons.

Getting anything done in PCY is often frustrating and time consuming. You aren't permitted to have any form of medication in your possession, so you have to turn it in at the guard shack. Three times a day the medical area opens up to distribute meds, with guards watching you to make sure you aren't pocketing any of your own pills. It typically takes a half hour to get through the line for every meal. The restrooms and showers have only the barest considerations for privacy, and despite being literally pressure washed three times a day, are often pretty disgusting. Getting your laundry done is an all day affair. Laundry service starts at 8:00am, but the list for getting your laundry done opens up at 4:00 am, and is usually full by 6:00 am. So if you want to get laundry done, you wake up real early to get on the list, and then hang around all day waiting for your name to get called. It eats up a day unless you are one of the very first on the list. On the whole its a depressing place, and living there can eat at you.

It does however, most of the time, beat living on the streets.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cedar Point is a steaming pile of shit company.

What follows is something of a historical piece. This was written by myself in late September of 2011. At the time it was an accurate reflection of both working and living conditions for Cedar Point Employees. The original form of this article spread surprisingly far across the internet and did result in some improvements in the treatment of Employee's, largely as a result of a letter writing campaign. Shortly after this was written I parted ways with Cedar Point permanently and since then haven't had any real contact with Cedar Point. There is a new C.E.O. whom may have improved conditions, but I really have no idea.

I am walking out of the shadows and claiming credit on this one for a few personal reasons, as well as for the fact that Cedar Point has recently been in the news and I am sure there is some curiosity about what sort of employee conditions could lead to a situation where 16 Employee's were recently arrested for rioting.

During the period I wrote this I was still an employee of Cedar Point (mostly because it was either that or homelessness) and fearing for my job I put in place several deliberate pieces of misinformation to keep what one upper manager once described as the "Eye of Sauron" of human resources from discovering the source. I was succesful in this, and did manage to coordinate for better conditions from inside the park as well. With the exception of a few spelling errors I have left the text entirely intact. I leave it to the reader to decide the credibility of this account for himself.

Just like the title says, Cedar Point is a steaming pile of shit company, home office of a steaming pile of shit corporation known as Cedar Fair LLC. Cedar Faire owns around 20 amusements parks around the country, but it is Cedar Point that is their home and their flagship. It is also by far the worst place to work at of all their parks. Cedar Point has degenerated from what was a pretty cool place for a college student to earn some money during Summer into an almost farcical capitalist dystopia. The company has developed an attitude that it owns its employee's, body and soul, and they are imminently disposable. People are expected to be able to work any amount of hours under any conditions without experiencing fatigue. Upper management has grown completely out of touch with its employee's, and indeed reality. There is a genuine belief amongst some of the higher ups that the reason they are having so many problems filling jobs is because the economy is improving. It never occurs to them that perhaps people don't like working 13 hour shifts 6 days a week in the wind/sun/rain, or that people don't want to live in conditions that are in some cases only moderately better than a refugee camp. They never really consider that perhaps if they paid at least minimum wage, or offered overtime compensation, perhaps their turnover would be less. No, instead they instruct their managers to impress upon the employee's how cool it is to work at Cedar Point, or how great a completed contract looks on your resume since (This is a literal quote from a VP) "Everyone knows how hard it is to work here, so when other major companies see our name on a resume they know they have a good candidate in front of them."

Not everyone who worked there will agree with this statement, and they would be right in doing so. Despite its many flaws, it is still possible to have a pretty cool time at Cedar Point, but this depends greatly upon the specific job/work location you get, and who your managers are. Some people will genuinely have the summer of their life working there, although this number is much smaller than it once was. Others will by the company propaganda hook line and sinker, truly believing they are lucky to be able to work at such a fantastic place. Some wear it as a mark of pride that they are enduring the conditions with a smile, snidely looking down on any who raise objections to conditions as "weak" or "whiners". Some will develop a bizarre sort of Stockholm syndrome and freak out at the suggestion that perhaps all is not well at never never land. But most will simply perform their duties and grunt through it. Jobs are hard to come by, especially in North Western Ohio, and Cedar Point does offer a steady income and relatively cheap housing. For people who cannot complete their college degree's for one reason or another, it becomes sort of a holdover.

Now, a brief note about me. I worked at Cedar Point for over 5 years, but I do not wish to reveal my identity. I bounced around several departments and eventually rose to a position where I sat in staff meetings that the VP's occasionally attended. I am still pretty well known there, and funnily enough, liked. I will tell as much as I can without painting a target onto my identity. This does sadly mean I have to withhold some pretty good stories, but I have a good reason. After I put this thread up its pretty likely they will find it, and they will immediately start an investigation to determine who I am. Their corporate culture is such that if they do determine who I am, it would be trouble for my family/friends still working there. This is a company that will literally fire you for posting anything that could be construed as derogatory to them or another employee on facebook, and they do have a dedicated squad whose sole job is to trawl the internet looking for any reference/mention of them, as well as to browse through employee facebooks. Even innocuous "I hate this place/my manager" type wall posts that don't even name names have been known to get people fired. So with that, I will tread carefully, but I intend to tell as much as I can.

First off, Cedar Point wasn't always a steaming pile of poo poo. Up until around six years ago (when things started on the downhill path) it was actually a pretty decent place to earn a tidy sum over the summer before going back to college. CP paid wages of about $1.30-$2.00 over minimum wage, and on top of that there was a bonus for completing your contract. The bonus was typically 1 dollar per hour worked over the course of your contract. More if you worked during the "Halloweekends" (Special weekend only days during fall from late august till Halloween) This usually meant around a thousand dollars or so for an employee who stayed all season, and was an incredibly strong motivator at the end of a season. Staffing traditionally falls to a low point towards the end of a season, people wind up working longer hours with fewer breaks, and usually the last 2-3 weeks are done with no days off. However, starting really in 2007 things began to change. Let me break it all down.

Pile of shit 1: Wages

Ohio has traditionally had one of the lowest minimum wages, hanging at around $5.45 an hour for years until the federal government raised the minimum wage. Cedar Point's response to this was to take the increases out of the bonus. When the minimum wage was raised by 50 cents, they cut the bonus by 50 cents. When the minimum wage was raised again, they cut the bonus down to a paltry 35 cents. Eventually equilibrium was reached at $7.30 an hour, 5 cents below minimum wage, with no bonus. Cedar Point is able to do this because they classify as many of their employee's as possible as "seasonal". Meaning no minimum wage laws, and no overtime laws. They will classify anyone they can as seasonal, even employee's whom work 40+ hours a week year round. Sometimes this is accomplished by shifting employee's around between jobs during the year, other times it is just simply done and not a word is said.

Prior to this there was a variety of payrates for different jobs around the park, now there is one payrate, $7.30 an hour. The only way to improve this is to get promoted, but promotions only bring more headaches and no real increase in income. For example, a "Team Leader" (person in charge of an entire store or ride) only makes 15 cents more than his subordinates. An "Assistant Team Leader" only makes 10 cents more, and only during "in charge time" when the Team Leader is away from the location. Otherwise they earn the same $7.30 as everyone else. If you are one of the talented lucky ones who gets a salaried position (takes 5-6 years for most positions) you are in little better shape, as once the amount of hours you work is factored in, you are only making around $8.50 an hour)It is not uncommon for an employee with a particularly heavy schedule get bigger paychecks than managers whom are 3-4 layers of promotion above them. This pattern continues right until you hit the VP/CEO level, at which point the pay becomes extravagant.

Cedar Faire SEC filings posted:

Chief Executive Officer Dick Kinzel, presiding over his last annual shareholders' meeting, introduced his successor, former Disney executive Matthew Ouimet. Ouimet, 53, has been named president and will add CEO duties when Kinzel retires Jan. 3.

Ouimet, who joined Cedar Fair last month, was not among the officers included in the executive compensation vote. However, an SEC filing shows his base salary is $750,000. That's less than Kinzel's $1.3 million base salary, but Ouimet also will get an annual cash bonus of up to $750,000.

Ouimet also will receive an initial stock award valued at $1 million. Beginning in 2012, he'll be eligible for annual stock awards of up to $1.1 million, supplemental compensation of $50,000, four weeks' vacation and health, disability and life insurance benefits.

Cedar Fair is covering costs associated with the Ouimet family's move to Ohio from Los Angeles. Among them: transportation for a dog and a horse and a third vehicle; loan origination fees; temporary housing for up to three months, with the option to use the company's furnished condo in Huron; and extension of time for relocation from six months to 18 months.

Kinzel's retirement package, meanwhile, is dependent on the price of Cedar Fair's stock when he exits the company. If he had retired last year, his stock, pension and health benefit package would have totaled $8.7 million.

As an added bit of extra capitalist irony, the bus that brings employee's into the park also drives past Mr. Kinzel's 3.5 million dollar mansion that sits on the peninsula right next to the point.

Pile of shit 2: Working conditions.
Working conditions at Cedar Point vary greatly depending upon which department you are in, and sometimes between work locations. Rides is a good example. A ride such as Raptor really isn't too bad to work at, although there is only a single position at which you may sit for a period (controls) you are sheltered from the sun/rain, and at an elevated position where there is a nice breeze most days. Kiddie Kingdom on the other hand is an experience most people find to be hellish,(which is why it usually staffed by the foreigners with the weakest English skills, or people who have screwed up and are being given a last chance to keep their job) At Kiddie Kingdom there is no shelter from the rain or the sun, and in Ohio Summers you get plenty of both. You must remain standing at all times (Park Policy is that you can NEVER be seen sitting by a guest) and if there is no one at your ride you must clean. It doesn't matter whether it needs to be done or not, you must remain constantly in motion and cleaning. You are not permitted to talk to your nearby co-workers. (This is why if you go there you will see some very depressed looking people with a rag in one hand walking in a slow circle cleaning the top rung of the divider bars for their ride) Even worse though is the music. Its collection of "kids music" on a 90 minute loop, some of the songs playing back to back, literally the exact same song twice in a row. Although there are some tolerable songs like "You are a Pirate", most of them are things like kids bop versions of Achy Breaky heart or Macarena. Even worse than that is the buzzers. Many of the kiddie rides have little buzzers that simulate horn noises. Most of the kids will simply hold them down for the entire ride, creating a cacophony of unpleasantness that has been known to cause eye twitching in audio sensitive people. At least the kids themselves aren't usually too bad, the parents are another matter. Its especially distressing for the foreigners when they are dealing with an irate overprotective mother whom is freaking out about something, since they generally have no understanding of American Bourgeois, or for lack of a better term, "privileged white folk", compounded by their weak English skills.

Other departments are known for being terrible no matter what work location you get. The biggest offender is accommodations. Their turnover rate is spectacularly high, and for good reason. 14+ hour shifts are common, and 18 hour shifts not unheard of. Because Cedar Points attitude is that you will work exactly as much or as little as they need you, you can wind up nearly starving if the hotels are low on counts for a couple weeks, followed suddenly by 18 hour shifts and no days off for a month at a time. This causes people who can afford to quit (American's primarily) to leave, meaning the remaining crew has to take up the slack. This often creates a feedback loop that is nearly impossible to break out of, and it happens every year. The stereotype for room cleaners is exhausted looking Asian and Russian women, because those are the foreigners whom are least able to renege on their contract. (I remember one poor girl from an Eastern Bloc country who broke down in tears when her parents told her they would pay for her to come home right away, despite the fact that it would put the family in a bit of a hardship. But she was so miserable she couldn't even contemplate working there anymore, and she was overjoyed that her parents were willing to rescue her from America. Let that sink in for a moment.)

Breaks are another issue at Cedar Point. The standard for most departments is a 1 hour break (or two thirty minute breaks) for an O-C. (Open to Close shift) An O-C varies between departments, but typically runs from around 8:30 am to 11:30 pm, and in some cases longer. Sweeps for example arrive two hours before the park opens and leave two hours after it closes. On days where the park closes at 10:00pm, this translates into a shift of 8:00am to 12:00am. Despite the length of this day, they still get the same amount of breaks. In many locations you cannot simply use the bathroom whenever you want, you may only do so on your breaks. Breaks are also your only chance to refill your water bottle without making a special request. When employee numbers get low, breaks get cut. Towards the end of a season, I've seen people worked for 20 hours with a single 45 minute break. Ride operators at least are given an extra half hours worth of breaks in consideration of working in a safety related position, and the park does have a policy of not working ride operators past 80 hours a week. During the early or later parts of the season its not unheard of for major rides to have to be shut down because the entire crew has hit 80 hours.

Steaming Pile of shit 3: The exploitation of Foreigners.

Every year at Cedar Point (and many other parks) a large contingent of foreign workers are employed. It would be unfair to say that all of these workers are abused in some way, however, when they arrive they find themselves in a completely imbalanced situation and they are frequent targets of exploitation. These workers come here on a treaty (whose name escapes me and Google isn't helping much either) that allows to a visa under some sort of work exchange program. They are recruited in their home countries by one of several companies who handle this sort of thing. They pay a fee to the company (whom also gets a fee from Cedar Point), sign a contract agreeing to work for Cedar Point for a specified period (breaking this contract carries a heavy financial penalty), and purchase their plane ticket. Some pre-purchase their plane ticket home, most do not. Its very important to note that many of them are counting on their earnings in order to be able to get back home. Very often they have been misled as to how much money they will make. (I don't know if the company that recruited them tells them or just strongly implies this, but I have heard from dozens of them that they thought the minimum wage in America was around $15-$20 per hour.)

Most of them come from some sort of middle class background (relative to their country of origin) and are studying a degree (business is the most common) that makes use of knowing the English language. They come to America expecting to be able to earn what is for them a fabulous amount of money while practicing their English and experiencing American culture. Most of the time what they get is something else entirely.

First off, Cedar Point has these people by the balls. Not only are they living in a foreign land with a culture that is often bizarre too them, they are running smack into brutal American Capitalism. In the first place their wages are lower (I think $6.45 per hour 5.23 per hour now confirmed), and they are contractually bound to finish out their time of employment. Cedar Point provides them housing as well as employment. If they quit or are fired they incur immediate financial penalties for breaking the contract, and they find themselves suddenly homeless. The way the treaty works is they are only allowed to leave the country during a designated period, if they want to leave earlier it incurs further financial penalties. For most of them it was a heroic effort just to afford getting here, and they need to earn a ton of money to get back. When they learn what their actual wages will be they are often crushed, having been told to expect around triple what they will actually earn. So no matter what conditions or tasks they are given, they generally do them while smiling (at least to your face) and will ask for more hours.

To be fair the majority do earn enough and do manage to sneak in a couple weeks touring the country before they go home, but during their time at Cedar Point they are worked liked machines and held up as the standard we should all be at. (I remember a manager of one of the kitchens screaming at a cook who wasn't producing fast enough that if he didn't shape up he was "gonna get one of them Asian's in here to do your job. He'll produce twice as much and thank me for it.") They often take the cheapest housing available to them and live in little cloisters by ethnicity. They often don't get near as much exposure to English as they would like, as they are often grouped together at work and live together in company housing. Many of them also wind up with a weird perspective of America. They often have bought into "American Exceptionalism" long before they get here and develop a weird sort of Stockholme syndrome shortly after they arrive. I remember one girl in particular (A very pretty dark haired girl from an Eastern Bloc country) whom I saw had a bandage on her left arm from her fingertips to almost her elbow. When I asked her about it she said she had slipped and fallen and her arm had plunged into the Elephant Ear machine. She then told me with pride how she had finished out her workday after getting it bandaged up. (Her arm was covered in mild second degree burns) When I asked her why she had done this, she told me it was "Because that's how American's work. There must be a reason why America is so rich, I think now after being here its maybe everyone works so hard." I later learned she wasn't the only person to have slipped and fallen into the Elephant Ear machine, merely one of the most injured. Apparently one of her other coworkers (A black girl from Detroit) had the week before done the same thing and refused to go to first aid until the blisters on her arm had started breaking. This Eastern Bloc girl had learned from that example well.

It should be noted that much of what a foreign worker experiences at Cedar Point depends on what job they are assigned. They do not fidn out what they will be doing until they get here, and they are doled out to the various departments on an as needed basis. In general, the ones with good English skills are put in positions where they will interact with guests and thusly get treated a bit better. The ones with poor English skills often wind up cooking or cleaning rooms, and this is where some of the nightmarish abuse occurs. (I remember once walking into the back breakroom of one of the hotels. There was a sign posted there that said "There are no more days off for anyone until further notice, so DO NOT ASK." Everyone there was working 18 hour shifts, with a lucky handful per day getting 12 hours shifts.) The foreign workers though are always treated as machines no matter where they are. If there is anyone who is going to get screwed over, its the foreigner on your crew that will get it first. Someone's gotta work an extra 4 hours tonight? Its gonna be the foreigner. The company screwed up and over hired? The foreigners get their hours cut first. (They are guaranteed at least 40 by the contract they sign when they come over but most do not know this or do not know how to get it enforced. I've known a few who were getting only around 15 hours a week and come home ticket time were contemplating prostitution.) They never complain anywhere near where the company can hear, but many of them wind up dissatisfied/disillusioned.

There is one particular incident of this that stands out in my mind. During the 2008 season Cedar Point had massively over hired and was in the middle of the worst slump in attendance since like 1986. Departments were struggling to spread the scant hours around as much as possible to keep everyone going, many people were only getting around 25 hours a week and turnover was getting pretty bad. The foreigners were, unfortunately, at the bottom of the list for getting hours simply because they wouldn't simply leave. Usually, there are always a few foreigners begging for extra hours and moonlighting doing night trash or sweeping or something like that. This time however, there was nothing extra to give them and there were literally roaming groups that would make rounds between every department asking for extra hours every day. I was sitting in a meeting of department heads (There was a VP in attendance as well) and the issue of the foreigners begging for more hours came up. One of the managers instructed all her department heads "When you get a foreigner asking for extra hours, give them an extra hours form, have them fill it out, and as soon as they walk away just throw it out." When asked by one of her subordinates if they shouldn't at least tell them there were no more hours she said "No, that only causes problems for HR. When they ask HR what to do about their limited hours, HR tells them to ask us. If we tell them there are no more hours than CP can be found in violation of the contract. This way we get much fewer problems for everyone." (On a personal note, this story in particular and the fact that I never called this woman out for this has stuck in my craw ever since)

Another thing the Foreigners often have a difficult time adjusting too is our Police culture. In most of the rest of the world (Even Turkey or the Eastern Bloc) Police treat you with respect and speak to you politely. At Cedar Point the police are demigods with the right to enter your home and conduct a search at whim, and they will shout at you (particularly the foreigners) for the smallest of infractions. I have seen police scream at Foreigners for bouncing a basketball in the parking lot (not allowed), I have seen several police go and break up a pick up game of soccer that some Latin American's had formed. The sudden anger and absolute authority of the Police is something that many, many foreigners have a hard time understanding and are often caught completely off gaurd by it. They also don't understand how one group of Police can be okay with something and another group comes down on them like a ton of bricks. The idea that there can be such inconsistency in enforcement, or that once one police officer says something it becomes law despite precedent, is really hard for many of them to grasp. 

Steaming Pile of shit The Fourth: Housing 
Cedar Point is located in Sandusky Ohio, a fairly rural area of the country with no nearby population centers to speak of. Requiring a seasonal workforce of around 3000+, Cedar Point is therefore forced to recruit from well outside its local boundaries. These migrant workers require housing, so Cedar Point offers Company housing to its employee's. The housing has never been great,but it was pretty cheap. Years ago the attitude amongst employee's was "You get what you pay for". Then starting three years ago the board made a conscious decision to turn the employee housing into a profit generator, and the housing went from pretty drat cheap to debate-ably cheaper then getting a cheap apartment/house in town. Cedar Point has also turned Employee Housing into something of a soft Police State where you have no rights and must have your company ID (papers) on you at all times. Lets get into specifics.This combined even lead one group of FUNraisers (more on those later) to nickname the commons "Auschwitz".

There are 3 Main areas where employee's live. 

1.) "The Commons": This is where the majority of employee's live, and also where the employee convenience store and rec center is located. The commons is generally regarded as a dangerous/bad place by those who live in the other area's.

2.) "Bayside": Two converted apartment buildings and a small cloister of buildings where some of the execs live. These are generally regarded as the ideal places to live, but the rules are much more strictly enforced.

3.) Cedars/Golds Dorm: Technically two separate buildings but they are close to each other and on point. Very popular with the foreigners as they are the cheapest housing available. They are also very old, generally run down, and do not permit air conditioning. Cedars does not have locking doors, so theft is especially rampant. Golds is Female only and where most of the female foreigners live. (I'll be honest, its like a promised land of exotic women.)

The Commons 

Like all Cedar Point Employee housing the commons has tight security. There is a single entrance/exit point with a guard booth, and you are required to get your badge scanned to go in. If you for some reason do not have your badge on you, you cannot get in. The only way around this is if your Supervisor can be reached at their work number to confirm you are still an employee. If its late at night, too bad, you spend the night either outside or you pay 100 bucks for a room at one of the hotels. This is strictly enforced now.

The entire commons area is ringed by a 6 foot Tall barbed wire fence. There are security cameras and roaming patrols of police. Every year there are multiple rapes, stabbings, and even the odd shooting. Theft is extremely common, as are burglaries. Drugs at least, are relatively rare but still obtainable.

There are two types of living quarters available in The Commons. The first, and the one that by far the majority of employee's live in, are what are called Dorm-rooms. A Dorm-room is a single, 10x18ish room. It has two bunkbeds, 3 lockers, 2 Dressers, 1 desk, 1 chair, 1 TV (If your lucky) and an air conditioner. There are communal restrooms/showers on each floor. Four people will be assigned into each Dorm-Room, and its kind of a crapshoot who you get and if they have a schedule compatible with yours. While it is possible to switch rooms with someone, you have to get approval first and it usually takes a few days. (Approval is not always granted though and housing maintains that they are not obligated to tell you why) This is a popular choice for housing because it is the *ONLY* one where you can have an air conditioner in your bedroom. All other housing options either disallow air conditioners outright or only allow them in small communal areas and not in the bedroom's. The cost for this is $45 dollars per week, per person. It works out to $720 per month for a SINGLE ROOM, or about $4 per month per square foot. (I would be interested in what low end apartments go for in major cities on a square foot basis, as I suspect its comparable.) This video here should give you a pretty good idea of what a dorm-room is like. Note to the company spooks trying to track my identity down, I don't know who any of the people in this video are, so don't blame them if they are still employed at CP.

Living in commons dorms is not particularly easy. The space you see in that video is what you get. You are not permitted any devices that can be used to cook food, as they are a fire hazard. (In fact, nearly everything has been ruled a fire hazard, including plug in air fresheners) Their are communal microwaves on the first floor of each buildings, and that is what you may use. Hotplates, microwaves, and even electric tea kettles are all contraband, and being caught in possession of them can mean confiscation/termination, it can even lead to your roommates getting punished for not turning you in. You are permitted a small fridge however. So your choices for eating are generally either eating out(Sandusky is an expensive town because it is a resort town, ordering delivery, peanut butter/Raman, or buying something from the Employee Store. The prices at the Employee Store are quite elevated, despite it being a pretty busy store. There is also a Subway inside the Employee Rec Center, however the prices are again elevated and even the $5 Footlongs deal is not offered. This makes it a somewhat complicated affair to feed yourself without going spending a great deal of money.

The other main living option at The Commons are what are called apartments. The apartments are all identical. Five Bedrooms joined by a single hallway leading into a communal living room area. The communal living room area has 1 couch,1 cushioned chair, a small table, a single large fridge, an ancient television, a sink, a 4 burner stovetop(no oven), and an air conditioner. The five bedrooms hold 18 people collectively and are each smaller than a dorm-room. There are also two bathrooms to be shared amongst 18 people, and the cleaning of them is left entirely up to the rooms occupants. This naturally, leads to a constant source of conflict. This video shows the inside of the common area of an Apartment. (Again, I do not know any of the people in this video) The cost for an Apartment is I believe $38 dollars per person, per week. These are popular with some people because they are slightly cheaper, and with the ability to lock your bedroom door, it is a bit easier to prevent theft. Also, you can cook here, and if you trust everybody enough, actually store your food in the big fridge. The foreigners from Asia in particular are known for bunching up in one of these. The bedrooms also offer a bit of personal space for getting a game system or something of that nature.


Bayside is by far, BY FAR, the preferred living quarters in Cedar Point. Getting into a Bayside apartment is something that is often viewed as a privilege that must be earned. There are two buildings. The 700 and the 800 building. The 800 building is nicer, and almost like a legitimate tiny apartment. The 700 building however is still fantastic by Cedar Point standards. Each apartment hold 5-8 people in either 2 or 3 bedrooms, has its own private bathroom and a kitchenette. (WITH AN OVEN!This is a big deal) The living room is also considerably more spacious than the ones in a Commons apartment. Competition for spots at Bayside is pretty fierce, and are generally reserved for either team leaders/middle managers or their pet employee's. A few do get in if they are early enough in the season and in the right/place time though. Cost is $29 per week. (Sorry, couldn't find a video for this one) The 800 building is even nicer with larger rooms and newer furniture/carpet, but most of it is pre-served for special employee's whom simply cannot be a part of the regular population (The Police, Performers for the Ice Show, etc.) There are a few downsides to Bayside though. If you want air conditioning, it is only allowed in the living room, and you must buy the air conditioner yourself. Everyone's rent goes up slightly to cover the extra electricity used, and you have to pay the carpenters to install it. Also, the rules tend to be much more strictly enforced (Except for the cops, cuz those guys can't be punished and they know it. Its not uncommon to see an officer wheeling a Keg into the building) There are also tons of little irritating rules, like only being allowed a single 6 pack of beer, (no wine or other types of liquor permitted, only beer) and if one of your roommates is underage and steals your beer then you can be charged with providing to a minor, even if you are not home at the time.

Cedars/Golds Domritories 

I don't know too much about these, having only visited them occasionally, but they are much like the Commons apartments, only much much crappier. They are the cheapest of the cheap living accommodations. (around $17-$20 per week) There is no air conditioning, there are no locks on the doors, all the furniture/carpet is old and beaten, and both places have an air of old Soviet Bloc housing. The also do not have any common areas, pretty much only tiny bedrooms and communal showers/bathrooms. (This was told to me by multiple people who grew up in Eastern Bloc countries) These are located right on the point though and represent a very easy way to get to/from work, cutting the hassle of the obscene traffic or the employee bus at the end of the day. These are very, very popular with the foreigners, or the extremely cheap. Eating here is done primarily at the employee cafe, as its right within walking distance and the only other food available is at the Company restaurants, and you do not get any sort of discount there. (And the prices are beyond retarded, 3.75 for a coke, 15 dollars for a hamburger.)
I wasn't able to find a video of these either.

I thought since some of my personal anecdotes have been pretty popular I would make a post of nothing but stories. These are all things I witnessed firsthand. (As I'm typing these it really does feel a bit like opening a vein, I had forgotten how much some of these pissed me off.)

Medical Related
Cedar Points culture is such that anyone with a medical issue is automatically considered to be either lazy or a faker just trying to get out of a shift. There is a first aid station for guests and employee's, but going there is kind of chancy as an employee (you need your supervisors permission, sometimes in writing to visit them during your shift) They will automatically assume you are lying and most of the time offer you cough drops and a cup of water. If they are feeling generous they might let you lie down for 20 minutes. There is also a "doctors office" (I literally gagged in real life saying that).

I have tried to describe this doctors office for twenty minutes now and I get angry every time. Management talks it up it as something great for the employee's, a real benefit. Evidence of how much they care and how good you have it. Let me just give you the cold facts. It is a two room affair located inside the Cedars building. It generally has a 3-4 day waiting list, so for anything like a flu/cold your generally already over it by the time you can get in.

The doctor can give you painkillers and do some mild prescriptions, but that's about it. For anything more than that you will be referred to one of the local medical clinics. And this is the real pisser.

All of the local medical clinics have a special policy for Cedar Point Employee's. For anything non life threatening you must pay them $100 up front to be seen You read that right. Poor, sick employee's who can't work and don't know whats wrong with them need to pay cash up front in order to be seen by a real doctor. After that they must pay up front for treatment unless the Hospital expects it to be covered by Cedar Point for some reason. This has created many situations in which Employee's know something is really wrong with them but they don't have the money to get treated, so they just struggle through as best they can until they collapse.

Assorted First Aid Horror Stories 
First Aid had a literally official policy of being suspect of any Employee who came in with a complaint. While it is true that they do get quite a few people faking an illness to either get out of a shift or go home early, very often those with legitimate problems get treated like liars. Only the very obviously ill or bleeding get taken seriously. First Aid also has a policy that an injury or illness has to be pretty significant in order to be sent home. Pain isn't viewed as a legitimate reason not to work, only risk of further significant injury.

Once while having a deep cut bandaged up in First Aid one of the nurses noticed the blisters on my feet and asked if they hurt. I told her they did a bit, but I was used to it and didn't need any help. She told me "That's good your so used to walking. I had a girl in here yesterday who this is her first real job. She's never walked or stood so much and after two days the poor thing had a 4 inch blister on her heel. I felt terrible but I couldn't send her home. The blister wasn't going to cause her anything but pain so all I could do was give her some Aspirin and tell her to suck it up."

A member of the Maverick crew started work one day complying of being exhausted and nauseated. Now, because of the way the train sits in the station checking Harnesses on Maverick is actually a pretty physical process. You have to move very quickly, and perform a bowing action (essentially bowing down nearly far enough to touch your toes) several times per train. It was an extremely hot and humid day. Three hours into his shift this crew member rushes to the side of the station and vomits. He is sent to First Aid, although begrudgingly because they had to stop breaks in order to do it. First aid gives a 10 minute break, two cups of water, 2 cough drops, has him walk across the park to wardrobe to get a fresh shirt, and then send him right back into position.

Another ride operator suffered a full grand mal seizure while in position. First aid gave her a 40 minute break, and then sent her back into position with the caveat that she had to sit for the rest of the day. She was sent to the entrance where she finished out her shift.

Blaming the victim 
Heat and rain aren't the only environmental enemies at Cedar Point. Early or late in the season Ohio's weather can be very chaotic and Cold and wind can be a big problem, and the temperature can drop unexpectedly. There was a ride operator working at one the major rides that sits right on the shore. Despite being pretty early in the season the morning had started off quite warm so he was in his regular uniform. About 2 hours into his shift though a weather front blew in and the temperature dropped rapidly as the wind really kicked up. By chance this happened just as this crew member rotated into a position that focused the wind into a natural wind tunnel. He was being blasted with cold air and was unable to get to his locker to get his warmer clothing, and the TL refused to shut the ride down or delay a launch in order to allow him to do so. So he stood and shivered for a half hour until he was very visibly violently shivering. The TL in this case unfortunately had not been trained to recognize signs of hypothermia or shock, so did not think the crew member was in any real distress. After a half hour the shivering ride operator was rotated into the control booth which was at least sheltered from the wind. However, after five minutes in the booth he made an "operational" (A mistake that delays the launch of a train) and was kicked out of the booth and back into the wind. 5 minutes later he stepped into the booth, blacked out and proceeded to have a seizure. He was ambulanced off to First Aid, where he was monitored for a few hours. The end result was that he was written up and given a "step" of counseling (4 steps is termination) as well as reassigned to a different ride. Now you might be wondering how you can write someone up for making a procedural error when they are hypothermic and only minutes away from blacking out. Well, the justification was that since he hadn't eaten in two days, (He was broke and hadn't received his first check yet) he had failed to maintain his health and that his medical distress was really his fault. If he had eaten then the cold wouldn't have caused him nearly the problems.

My Foot hurts 
An employee who worked at one of the stores had worn his current pair of shoes down, so he went to Wardrobe and purchased a new pair of shoes from the Company. This new pair of shoes had a small defect in the heel and a sliver of plastic was poking through. But this employee decided to just bear with it and keep working. They were terribly short staffed at this point, and this Employee was working 16 hour days. His life was basically work/collapse work/collapse. His foot begins to hurt, but for several days the Employee does his best to ignore it.

Around the third day of this foot pain the Employee is caught by a manager leaning against a desk. (Store employee's are not permitted to sit, and are not permitted to lean in any place where a guest might see them.) Despite the fact that the store was empty of guests at the time, he manager writes this Employee up and gives him a step. The employee states that he was only leaning because his foot was causing him so much pain. the manager then tells the Employee "Well then go to first aid and get checked out so they can send your right back here because its nothing you crybaby." The employee goes to First Aid. When they pull his shoe off the sweet smell of rotting flesh fills the room. His foot was necrotic.

The immediately send the employee over to the doctors office, whom cleans the wound, prescribes some serious antibiotics, and basically freaks out. (He almsot had to wear a mask to treat the wound) The Doctor writes a note stating that either the Employ is off the schedule for 7 days, or he can only work 8 hour shifts, must be permitted to sit the entire time, and must keep his foot elevated the entire time. He must also see first aid to have the dressing changed three items per day, whether he is working or not. The Employee complies and leaves a note with his department and with the safety department and heads home. He is told by a junior night manager not to come in the next morning.

The next day the senior manage is seriously upset. She calls the Employee demanding he come in and work his scheduled 16 hour shift. He refuses, and states he has a note. The manager claims she never got the note and demands he come in. He refuses and tells her to take it up with safety. She calls safety and states that her department never received any note. Safety faxes her over a copy. She states that her departments position is that the employee is still fit to work his regular shift. This starts of an escalating chain of phone calls until the Doctor catches wind of it. The Doctor personally visits this manager and proceeds to lose his poo poo at her publicly. The issue is dropped, but the employee is ultimately blacklisted over the affair. 

I just feel weak all the time 

There was an acquaintance of mine who worked as a cook at one of the higher end restaurants. She was a pretty typical party girl. Shortly into her third year she started to feel weak pretty constantly. The CP Doctor told her to go to one of the medical clinics in town, but this was also during a famine period of hours, so she really didn't have the money. She tried to muddle through it as best as she could. For a while she was the first to be sent home, and she more or less made just enough to feed herself and pay her rent. As the months drug on she had good days and bad days. Sometimes she would even have a good week, only to overdo it and wind up nearly bedridden again. Eventually, as the season drug on they got busy again but she was simply unable to keep up. Her co-workers all suspected her of faking. This girl truly felt horrible guilt that she couldn't keep pace with her Co-workers and used to say things like "When I'm better I"ll be able to work hard and make this up to you" when her co-workers were forced to pick up her slack. "When I'm better" became something of a mantra for her, and I heard her say it often. Despite her intentions, She was still the first to be sent home, which caused deep resentment amongst her co-workers. Several times she collapsed at her station, but she would always come back and finish her shift after a 20 minute stint of water and painkillers at First Aid. Eventually the season ended and she went home. But she still didn't get better. Her family pretty quickly took her to see a doctor. She was diagnosed with Leukemia.

But I paid my bills 
Cedar Point does in fact offer a weak medical plan. It is overpriced for the very limited coverage you do get, and if you read the fine print there are many ways that you could be denied. But the plan is there, and some do take advantage of it.

There was an employee's who was one of the few year round employee's who had taken the medical plan. He developed a herniated disc and felt pretty grateful that he had the foresight to get the medical insurance. That is until he actually tried to get the insurance plan to pay out. The insurance company had no record of receiving any payments for his policy. It came out in court that on multiple occasions Cedar Point had registered Employee's for this medical plan, taken the payments out of their checks, and then forgotten to actually pay the insurance company. The stink over this is still ongoing.