The Perils of Pretentious Co-workers

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GILBERTO CARDENAS/New University

My first job was a memorable one. Six Flags Magic Mountain is probably among the most exciting ways to earn a paycheck. Shouting kids, screaming adults, terrifying roller coasters and some of the best co-workers a person could ask for.

But there were definitely some speed bumps, the biggest one of which being Mary, the most obnoxious co-worker I have ever been forced to deal with.

I started my job at Six Flags in “Bugs Bunny Land,” the kiddie area that we fondly referred to as BBW, and I loved it. Most of the people I worked with were fun, except for Mary who was just plain mean.

Mary always had her eyes set on working her way up to a lead position, then to a supervisor and beyond. Now, I am no rocket scientist but when you put a self-centered person in charge of more than about 30 people, chances are something bad is bound to happen. And it did. Hilariously.

In our area there were about 50 overall people, 25 for the morning shift and 25 for the evening shift. Three leads were assigned to make sure everything ran smoothly, which included juggling breaks and lunches. The area couldn’t be closed down at any time.

When only one lead was scheduled to work they had to put another person in charge to take their break. This varied day-to-day but no one thirsted for this “behind the desk” position more than Mary. Unfortunately for her, she was never very good at it. Her inability to take advice from anyone else and lack of concern for people who had not had a break in hours led to three people missing their breaks and going into overtime.

When our leads got back they were livid. Mary was banned from doing breaks and it looked like her aspirations were shot.

She found a way around it by sucking up to our supervisors.

After crafting some outrageous story about how one of our leads was “picking on her,” Mary was allowed to move to “Log Jammer,” the larger, higher-maintenance ride she needed in order to advance.

Few mourned her switch. In the four months she worked in BBW, she had alienated almost every person she had come into contact with. She was nice to people’s faces but snobby behind their backs. We traded the snide remarks she made about everyone like they were the hottest Pokemon cards.

With her away, things were looking brighter. The rides seemed cleaner, the kids seemed happier and even the leads were more lenient. With her out of the way, I was able to get more training and quickly became a supervisor favorite. I was moved to “Goliath” (a large rollercoaster) in addition to being put in charge of breaks and lunches as well as paperwork and safety checks.

Meanwhile, Mary was given similar responsibilities over at “Log Jammer.” Things seemed fine until my supervisor approached me with a lead application only a year after I had started working and six months before I planned to leave for Irvine. I had to turn down this opportunity, and it went to the next person on the list, Mary, whose application had been in the office since her sixth month.

You would think with her goal achieved, Mary would have settled down a bit but, unsurprisingly, the power went to her head. In the six months that she was a lead, I had never heard more disgruntled workers complaining or seen more write-ups being issued.

Mary confronted me one day in person. She had heard that I was talking about her to other workers. I told her that I had heard much of the same thing when we both worked in BBW many months ago. She explained that it was inappropriate of me to say anything against her now that she was a lead. The threat was well received but given very little interest, I knew it would never change anything that had happened between us.

My last day at Six Flags was tearful. I sent my last train in the station and hugged everyone there while texting goodbye to those who were not. I came back after turning in my uniform to take one last safety ride with a friend and as I got off I realized something — I  would miss Mary.

For all her bossiness, self-centeredness and mean attitude, Mary showed me how not to treat the people I work with. And that lesson is worth more than any promotion ever could be.

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