It’s the end of the Georgia Cyclone…and I feel fine (7/26/2017)

Unlike many of my friends growing up, I didn’t have a season pass to Six Flags.

If something wasn’t in Athens, it was too far away, according to Mama.

And Mama was hyper-overprotective so, I couldn’t even go with my friends when I was invited.

I’d beg and plead for her to let me go.
“You won’t like it,” she told me simply.

How could she know what I would like when she wouldn’t let me see for myself?

I continued to beg and plead. She still said no.

My friends eventually quit asking me.
“Your Mama never lets you go with us,” was the explanation one friend was kind enough to offer.

“You take me,” I begged her.

Mama refused, citing first she didn’t know how to get there, where it was, or anything about Six Flags.

“Your mama is doing good to ride a Tilt-A-Whirl at the fair,” Granny said. “You sure don’t want her ridin’ no Scream Machine. She will be sick for days. Plus, she don’t do the sun. She’s allergic.”

My childhood was void of Six Flags until my Junior year and one of my best, dearest friends decided we had to rectify this.

The fact I had never been to Six Flags came up when she was saying how excited she was about the Georgia Cyclone.

Most people couldn’t understand how I was such an anomaly of childhood and even though she had known me for a few years, she could not fathom how I had not been to Six Flags.
“We will go Sunday!” she said, declaring we would do a double date.

I’ll admit; I was nervous. Some of those rides did look scary.

I somehow managed to stifle down the fear – I didn’t have to ride anything if I didn’t want to – but I couldn’t choke down the embarrassment.

The boy I was dating – and I use that term loosely as I don’t want to remember much if anything about that experience – conveniently left his wallet in his truck when we met my friend, Ashley, in Snellville.

He didn’t mention this fact until right as we pulled up at the gate.

I was so embarrassed. Were we going to have to turn around and go back, after we just drove what seemed like light years to get there?

Ashley and her boyfriend had to pay our way in; I am guessing she had surmised from her previous dealings with him that he was the kind of putz who would pull something like that.

Off we went to find rides.

I think anytime I try to enjoy some kind of outdoor event it has to be on the hottest day on Earth. It was sweltering.

I think the soles of my Keds melted at some point because my feet felt burned. Maybe it was because I was doing a lot of walking and I have always been a sit on my tater type of gal.

I didn’t ride most of the rides; I took one look and chickened out. I was fine with sitting – more than fine actually – while everyone else rode them though.

I also learned when you were at Six Flags you pretty much stayed there all day.

My “When are we getting there” questions morphed into “When are we leaving?”

And wouldn’t you know it? The one ride I did get brave enough to ride left me drenched.

To add insult to injury, the cheap little weasel didn’t want me to drift out of his sight, so he would hold on to the belt loop of my blue jean shorts.

I tried to pull away from him but he held tight like it was a leash and I eventually ended up slapping his hand away.

I was mortified.

It was 257 degrees; my clothes were soaking wet; I was pretty sure some kid threw up in my hair; and this greasy soon-to-be ex-mistake of mine was trying to keep me literally within arm’s length.

Was this why Mama told me I wouldn’t like Six Flags?

I tried to skip school the next day as I was recovering from the trauma. Ashley actually had to literally drag me out of bed and make me go, telling me the only way to get over someone holding my belt loops was to be amongst friends.

I never went back to Six Flags. I think I went to White Water once and I am pretty sure someone told me they were taking me to get donuts or something. Me and water parks go as well as Mama and the Tilt-A-Whirl.

The other day, I came across a news article that said the Georgia Cyclone was being taken out of commission this Sunday.

It made me think of my one foray to the theme park some 17 years ago.

“Mama, am I ever gonna go to Six Flags?” Cole asked after I announced the wooden roller coaster was being retired.

“Probably not,” I told him.

“You won’t like it. Just trust me.”

 

Everyone’s a critic (7/19/2017)

It seems like everyone’s a critic these days.

Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor have made it easy.

Just because someone has a keyboard and an opinion, they think it needs to be expressed.

It’s particularly easy when its anonymous. Keyboard warriors like to hide behind a fake name and complain and criticize others, in hopes of seeing the effect of their cruel words.

People seem to get a rush when they have had a less than stellar experience and can complain about it online.

Sadly, those types of comments are the ones that garner the most response, too.

Because the internet is not going to let someone post a complaint without everyone chiming in with their own two cents about it.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say….” Mama would begin.

“I know, I know. Don’t say anything at all.” How Granny got to speak was beyond me, because she never said anything nice. But Mama always urged me to not say anything that wasn’t nice and, I sincerely, earnestly try.

But people love to be critical and mean.

And it is something I just can’t comprehend.

Someone asked me recently if I took criticism well.

I told them it depends on the spirit in which it was given.

I’ve been around people who thought the best way to help someone was to tear them down, forgetting to ever build them back up.

Unfortunately, some of these people were in supervisory positions – how, I don’t know, because being critical to the point of soul crushing is not leadership.

But criticism, when it is given with the intention of being constructive and helping people change, can be helpful.

Still painful, nonetheless, but helpful.

If we haven’t been told how to correct a mistake the first time we make it, we don’t realize we’ve done anything wrong.

We think we are doing a good job – especially when we keep doing it and no one says anything.

When someone finally does say something, it stings. Horribly.

The even more frustrating part?

That uncomfortable space is where we grow.

It may not feel like it at first but it is.

I say this and I have the world’s thinnest skin.

But if someone is trying to help me improve, I appreciate the time it took for them to do it.

And in that awkward, uncomfortable space of hearing our flaws and missteps, we have to realize we are not being personally attacked but coached so we can do a better job.

It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t make us happy. It can be terrifying to hear we have messed up.

It can also be wonderful to hear what we’ve done right and hopefully if they are trying to help you, they should tell you what you did correctly.

“Do I even breathe right?” I remember asking someone who was particularly critical once.

“You do tend to sigh a lot,” the supervisor complained, which made me only sigh more.

Even though that was a particularly dry place to try to grow, it taught me how I wanted to be treated and how to treat people I worked with.

The sad thing is, there’s more people like this one out there – people who are trying to make others just as miserable as they are.

Instead of focusing on the areas that need improvement, I am going to focus on what they are doing right and hope that will be magnified.

And I am going to tell people too.

When I see something going right, I am going to call the manager to let them know. When I have a great experience, I am going to talk about that on Twitter.

No one likes a critic.

So I am going to start spreading praise like crazy and see how that goes.