I used to work at Legoland. Believe me when I say it was the WORST. JOB. EVER. I’m already not a kid person…but wait, there’s more! If you clocked in more than three minutes early, you were written up. If you clocked in more than three minutes late, you were written up. So basically this meant I’d need to get there upwards of 15 minutes early (as you can never plan on the traffic in San Diego) and then just wait to clock in. There’d always be a little line of us waiting…if it was a busier shift, there’d be a long line of us. The people at the front of the line would start clocking in at exactly 3 minutes to the hour, and if any people started taking their time about it, or, god forbid, make a mistake with their crazy-ass punch codes, the people at the end of the line would start grumbling and heckling–because regardless of how long the people in front of them take, if they clock in more than three minutes late….. You get the picture.
The same time standard applies to lunch breaks. If you worked out in retail ‘carts’ like I did–which is basically their name for the kiosks you are bombarded with every time you step off of a ride that try their mightiest to deplete your bank balance with MUST HAVES to complete your ENTIRE EXPERIENCE or you have FAILED AT VACATION–you sometimes got a break, and sometimes did not. It depended on many factors (the weather in the Amazon Basin, the position of the stars as relative to planetary alignments..), but mostly as to whether or not the manager felt like getting off his/her ass and actually walking (*gasp!*) to your location to cover for you. If you were especially lucky, you’d work at one of the carts that was far far far away from any of the two designated break areas, which were, of course, fenced in to prevent escape. You’d then spend 10 minutes walking to a break area, and, allowing for a 10 minute walk back, you’d have a whole 10 minutes to try to focus on anything other than quitting your job. The second you managed to do that, you’d have to hurry hurry hurry back to your post, lest you be more than three minutes late!
The uniforms were ill-fitting, uglier than a circus clown on crack, and vile besides. The first pair of pants issued to me had holes in the crotch coupled with the knowledge that you were nestling your sweaty summer junk in the same place so very many other people had nestled their sweaty summer junk. It didn’t matter how many times you washed the shirt with a boatload of detergent, it still smelled like stale sweat. I always wore another shirt underneath to keep as much of it as possible from touching my skin. But I especially enjoyed how the company threatened that if you didn’t turn in the uniform upon termination of your employment, they’d charge you for it. Who in the hell would want to keep it?
I worked mostly on the photo bus, as I was one of the only employees child-like enough in stature to fit inside; however, even I could not stretch out to my full height of 5’1″ without cracking my head on the ceiling, so I’d spend my days hunched over like So-Cal Quasimodo. Here, I’d take a picture of a kid for $5, and it would get made into a little laminated driver’s license. The camera would take two pictures per polaroid sheet, and the second picture cost $2. If the parents didn’t want a second license, the picture was thrown away. I cannot tell you how many bloody times parents asked me to give them the second picture for free. The logic trail goes something like this: “Hey, what’s that other picture for?” “If you want a second license, you can have it for $2.” “hmm..well what if I don’t want it?” “Then I throw it away.” “If you’re going to just throw it away, why can’t you give it to me?” “Because it costs $2.” “But you’re just going to throw it away!” etc etc.
Sometimes these conversations would go on for what seemed like forever. What I couldn’t tell these parents is that as tiny as the photo bus was, Legoland managed to cram in 3 surveillance cameras to make sure I wasn’t stealing from the register, or, even worse, giving away pictures that were destined for bigger and better things (like the landfill).
It was also very important that employees never refer to the products as ‘Legos’. They emphasized that ‘Lego’ was the company and ‘bricks’ were the product, so they were correctly referred to as ‘Lego Bricks’. Get caught calling them anything else on three separate occasions, and you could kiss your job goodbye. Even if the customers called them ‘Legos’, you could never fall into their vernacular–instead, you must gently correct and instruct them like that obnoxious nerd in high school that everyone hated who was constantly sneering about grammar.
Much like Office Space, I had somewhere around eight different bosses, except I never met approximately six of them. I believe this was done on purpose, so that these mystery bosses could pretend to be customers and try to get me to give away second pictures or catch me saying ‘Legos’ so they could write me up. They never fooled me, though–for as much as I hated the job, I was a good employee. But still…they HAD to enjoy giving disciplinary action and terminating employees. Otherwise, why would they try so hard to make employee’s lives miserable?
On slow days, I used to fantasize about jumping the tiny protective fence and rampaging through miniland like Godzilla. Whole cities would crumble beneath my crushing feet of destruction! None would be spared–tiny lego men, women, and children would ALL fall victims to my RAGE ATTACK.
…Actually, I still fantasize about it.