It was the Summer of 2002 (best summer ever!). I was the "Checker" on the Kali turntable. (The Checker makes sure everyone is seated and buckled in before the raft leaves the turntable and free floats into the flume. Believe it or not, putting on a seat belt is a nearly impossible idea for some guests to grasp. Sad but true.) Being the peak of the Florida summer, we were all drenched in sweat and doing whatever we could to keep our pixie dust and maintain a fun atmosphere. It is this one moment on this one day that will forever hold the title of being THE funniest Kali River Rapids moment EVER!
My dearest friend, Robin, was one of the crew assigned to loading rafts. We had a family waiting to get some extra assistance at our "wheelchair dock". Being the awesome duo that we were, we flawlessly maneuvered an empty raft into position so that Robin could load the guests. Everything seemed to be going well. Seemed to be.
Once settled and ready for their white water rafting adventure, Robin flipped the switch and released our eager guests. As they floated away something unusual happened. Apparently the "parking brake" was never applied, and a wheelchair covered with belongings was now en route to the flume. Before Robin could stop it, it was gone!
The chair quickly sank, leaving behind hats, waterbottles, etc.... to float on the surface. Seeing as we were both trainers that took our jobs seriously, you'd think we would have handled this differently! While Robin grabbed a net and begin retrieval of the floaters, I called up to our "tower" aka "base" area to have maintence come pull the chair from the water. (Thank goodness it was just a Disney rental!!) Sounds all fine and mature, right? Wrong! The entire time we did this we were literally falling over in laughter. We could barely speak. Here we were, two cast members that should always be setting a good example, but instead we are laughing too hard to even function.
Fast forward about 6 minutes when our rafters return. We weren't sure how they were going to feel considering without a doubt they saw what unfolded. Still trying to contain our laughter, they were now upon us. "Hey," says the 20 something grandson, "have you seen Grandma? We left her in the wheelchair!"
Phew! They found the humor in it too -- and there was grandma just cracking up over it all! What a relief! Really, they were a fun great group of guests. I am so thankful they chose to laugh instead of yell!
**Meanwhile, unbeknown to Robin and I, something else funny was occurring. Dawn, our man-eater cast member in the tower had radioed our manager to tell them what had happened. Instead of switching over to our private frequency (60B! Ha, I still remember!), over the park-wide station she said: "We have a wheelchair in the flume. I repeat, there is a wheelchair in the flume." It is now important to note that as a park full of cast members heard this announcement, they did not realize it was an unoccupied chair! For all they knew we had a disabled person sinking to the bottom of the Chakranadi River!
For weeks would we continue to be teased. The most common joke? "Hey, we need a wheelchair - oh, go and check the Kali flume!"
Maybe it is a "you had to be there" moment. I am sooooooo glad I was there! It was priceless!
(The picture to the right is not me. It is not Robin. It is actually my friend Mengkha. BUT the raft she is cleaning is in our wheelchair dock, where this entire fiasco took place. Ah, good times!)