So as I was saying, there were my children, stranded atop the highest point of a roller coaster ride, while I was waiting on the ground below, thinking about buying a weiner hat to wear on my final visit to the merry-go-round. If I was going to be pitifully wimpy and have to tolerate the taunts of my family, at least I was going to do it in style.
When I realized the roller coaster wasn't moving, my first thought was not one of fear or concern or even basic motherly compassion. No, what I wanted to do was gather up a bunch of palm fronds and lay them out on the ground in large letter shapes so my helpless, frightened children could read, "I TOLD YOU SO. MAYBE NOW YOU'LL LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER."
But my mother-in-law was giving me the hairy eyeball, so I dutifully walked over to the ride entrance and asked the ride attendant what was happening. I swear the employees working at these amusement parks just climbed out of the womb yesterday. Anyway. She gave me a pink lip-glossed smile and said, quite casually, "Oh, the lifting mechanism is broken. The mechanics will probably be able to fix it." Which of course is Amusement Park Employee Code for, "Your kids' lives are in mortal danger. Go have an eight dollar soft drink and try not to think about suing us."
So we waited. And waited. Finally we heard a robotic voice say, "Clear the lift! Clear the lift!" We onlookers held our collective breath, expecting to see the roller coaster cars go rocketing forward (or possibly backward) at any moment. Nope. No movement except in the weiner hat hut, where someone was trying on the companion dill pickle sunglasses.
After a while, we heard the robotic voice again say, "Clear the lift! Clear the lift!" I was beginning to wonder if the maintenance guys were just a couple of Roombas in tool belts. The ride designer/engineer was probably vacationing in Europe (seeing as how all the Europeans were at the amusement park that day), and he left Roomba Pete and Roomba Ray in charge for the week.
Well, the Roomba boys finally got things working again and my kids finished out the ride without further incident. My husband says the children were stuck for only 15-20 minutes, not four hours as I previously reported. Whatever. It seemed like four hours. But I have to say the wait was worth it when my fourteen year old daughter ran out of the exit chute and into my arms, pleading, "I want to ride the merry-go-round."