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Whiplashed By Rain

Every summer my Father took me and my siblings to an amusement park. At the time of this incident, I was only about 14, and my brother and sister were one and three years younger than me, respectively.

One ride we had gone on as soon as my little sister was tall enough two years prior was the Skycoaster. It was a giant swing that hauled you up about 175 feet in the air and let you go, swinging. It was a ride that cost an additional fee, aside from admission, most likely due to the large number of employees required to operate the ride, and the cost of providing suits and bindings that attached to the ride to fit everyone. Still, it was pretty expensive for three people (about $80).

Two years after our first ride my siblings and I were very excited to go again. We were getting geared up, the equipment all strapped on and tightened. It was starting to get cloudy out and all of the other rides in the park started closing in the park due to expected thunderstorms coming our way. Except for our ride. We were ushered along by the park workers as they busily set up the ride. We whispered concerns to each other, but being kids we figured that they knew what we were doing. We are finally all strapped in and they start the machinery that pulls us up. It has started to rain at this point, and the rain starts pouring harder the further up we go. It was a long climb to the top, and by the time were reach the full height of the ride, a pretty good shower has started.

Well, my sister pulled the rip cord that let us loose and we went swinging trough the air. As anyone who has held their hand out of a window while going 70+ down a highway in the rain, raindrops hurt at very high speeds. And we were going fast. They stung all over our bodies while we were swinging, not excessively painful, but a real good sting. We were screaming and yelling out ?Ow!? and ?This hurts!? while swinging back and forth, my Dad recording with his cam-recorder all the while. We were very thankful when the ride was over.

When we got out of all the equipment and told my Dad our experience, he immediately requested a refund, saying that the employees should have stopped the ride at the first sign or rain (they had as soon as we got off). They refused, and my Dad asked for a manager.

Now there are two things that my Dad gets really worked up over, and that is people who get in the way of his kids, and bad customer service. Well, the manager comes over and again refuses a refund. My Dad exploded and began yelling (no profanities, but my Dad angry is a scary thing). Not so good etiquette on his part. I walk over to them (we were huddled under a shelter to get out of the rain) to see what all the commotion is about. My Dad is saying how we were screaming on the ride, and said how it had hurt. I even held out my arm with red spots from the rain on them as proof (which he seemingly ignored). The manager simply stated that our screams were screams of joy and excitement.

My jaw dropped. I can understand screaming on this ride, but when I stand in front of you and tell you that your ride hurt me, and instead you insist I was having fun!? I know I was only 14, but I was still quite competent and aware of my feelings. After scooping my jaw off the floor I insisted that my Dad replay the recording of us. Sure enough, my Dad had recorded my brother screaming out, “This hurts!”, very audibly. The manager could not refuse this proof, and refunded my Dad his money.

It still upsets me that this man would dismiss me and my claims of being in pain so easily.   0514-10

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Voice of Reason May 19, 2010, 6:24 am

    Thank goodness you were vindicated. What a struggle.

  • jan May 19, 2010, 6:54 am

    Mistakes were made all around. The ride should have been shut down and your money refunded as soon as the other park rides started shutting down. Your father should have stopped you from getting on the ride and gotten the refund then. Your father, while understandably upset over his children getting hurt, should have been more calm and the manager should not have dismissed the request so quickly.

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience.

  • Joanne May 19, 2010, 7:22 am

    I don’t understand. It was raining – hard – why would you want to go up on this ride anyway? Were there other people on the ride too? I’m sorry you had a bad time, but honestly, how could the people on the ground distinguish your cries of pain from 175 feet in the air?? Common sense was called for here, if not by teenagers then by your father.

  • Casey May 19, 2010, 7:29 am

    Being told how I feel is a pet peeve, as I’m sure it is with most people. I wonder if your father suffered from the same trust of the park workers as you did? Why didn’t he come get you down? I hope it taught him a lesson, as well as you and your siblings. Don’t trust someone against your better judgment just because they look like they should know what they’re doing!

  • Goldfish May 19, 2010, 7:39 am

    So, if you were calling out that the ride was hurting you loud enough to be recorded on the webcam, why didn’t your dad react on it immediately and request the ride to be stopped? Surely there must be a safe way to stop a ride in case of emergencies.

  • Caitlin May 19, 2010, 8:09 am

    Yikes, I know exactly which ride you are talking about. It was very lucky your dad had that video camera. Your dad also sounds a lot like my dad, haha.

  • PrincessSimmi May 19, 2010, 8:22 am

    Ouch! I’m sorry you and your siblings had to go through that- some people have no clue.

  • Nicole May 19, 2010, 8:33 am

    Are you from Pittsburgh? I know exactly what amusement park you are talking about!

    I can’t believe someone would discount someone’s feelings – poor customer service there.

  • Ruth May 19, 2010, 8:55 am

    This makes me even more grateful for an experience I had when I was little. I loved Ferris wheels and my parents thought I might like this one wheel that would reverse direction. I was about 5 and when we started going backwards I had a meltdown, I can still remember how terrified I was (though I hadn’t thought about it in years until I read this article). Fortunately, when I started screaming, the operators stopped the ride to let me and my mom off and then started it up so everyone else got to enjoy their full time.

    That’s excellent customer service.

  • Gloria Shiner May 19, 2010, 9:07 am

    This isn’t a breach of etiquette, it’s a safety violation. On the other hand, if other rides were being shut down, why would your father let you ride on that one? He, as a parent, bears some of the responsibility for your safety. A total refund was generous.

  • DGS May 19, 2010, 9:15 am

    While I can certainly understand and sympathize that your feelings were dismissed, and that you and your siblings were frightened, in inclement weather, the park should have stopped the rides for safety reasons and not allowed anyone on that ride. Also while it is understandable that your Father was upset, he should not have lost his temper like that and simply reasoned with the manager in a calm and polite fashion. (And perhaps, having heard his son scream in pain, he might have gone to the manager and requested that the ride be stopped due to his kids’ safety being compromised).

  • mommaknowsbest May 19, 2010, 9:32 am

    Why is this submission even on etiquettehell.com? This has nothing to do with manners and civility. This is about a business, a product, a service, and some grown men with no common sense in their heads to get children out of the rain. These men were ignorant buffoons –your dad for letting you get on that ride when it was starting to rain and then have the audacity to stand there and tape it–even after hearing the yells of “it hurts” and then demanding money back for a ride you obviously asked for and got—and then the manager for allowing rides to continue in the rain, especially one that obviously hurts when it rains.

  • SarahLovesFabric May 19, 2010, 9:33 am

    A similar thing happened to me at a “kiddie park” when I was about 9. I was on a “scrambler” type ride where you sit in a little car that gets whipped around at high speeds. The teenaged operator didn’t check my door, which apparently had not latched properly, and it flew open while the ride was in motion. It took me a few revolutions to get my mom’s attention (she was understandably distracted by my younger sisters), but as soon as she registered my distress, she got the operator to stop the ride. His response? “She was still having a good time. That’s why she was screaming.” Idiot.

  • Nicole May 19, 2010, 9:38 am

    A little further explanation of the ride – I agree that the ride should have been stopped once the rain started falling and the other rides of the park were shut down.

    However, the nature of this particular ‘ride’ is such – you pay a fee in addition to the normal park fee to ride this ride and are given a time that you are going to ride it (they oftentimes sell out of slots for this ride).

    Once the rip cord is pulled, there is no way to stop the ride – the three individuals are packed together and are on a major cord that swings them back and forth until they slow down (think – swing) and then the workers are able to stop them using poles, etc. to bring them back down. Oh yeah, and this ride also goes over water.

  • Tetris May 19, 2010, 9:39 am

    I can believe it. If that manager was accustomed to customers trying to get a refund for no good reason – say, parents claiming that it’s obvious the kids didn’t have fun since they were screaming – maybe he started with his standard refutations, realizing to late thatthe claim was actually valid? The crying-wolf-effect.

    Also, I don’t quite see the manager discounting the OP’s feelings. I see the manager discounting the OP’s father’s representation of OP’s feelings. Dismissing somebody’s feeling to their face is unspeakably rude, but here we have one degree of separation. (And the reason I reason this way is that I agree with the OP that a 14-year-old is old enough to speak for himself regarding how he feels! With a five-year-old it would have been a different matter.)

    This is not to say that I think the manager did the right thing. I think he should have said something like “most kids scream on the rides, but most of the time it’s because of excitement” rather than blankly stating “it was for excitement”. And then I think he should have asked the kids about their version.

  • Lizajane May 19, 2010, 10:52 am

    I agree with Voice of Reason.

  • phoenix May 19, 2010, 10:53 am

    From the way the story was told, it sounds like the dad was telling what the OP felt, then the OP showed the marks and spoke for themselves only later, so probably the park manager was getting the “parent is *saying* their child was unhappy to get out of paying” vibe. It’s an unfair application in this case, but park workers very very quickly learn to tune out parents saying that kids didn’t enjoy a ride and want a refund. Usually while Mommy is saying how a ride traumatized little Jimmy and she demands a refund, little Jimmy is telling everyone how much fun he had.

    Not excusing this instance at all, by the way. It isn’t clear when the OP started speaking for herself, but the manager should have realized early on that the ride shouldn’t have run and the complaint was real. But I think the manager was suffering from a knee-jerk reaction more than outright maliciousness.

  • LovleAnjel May 19, 2010, 11:06 am

    To the other posters– this is a bungee-style attraction that holds three people in a harness. The people are pulled up & back, stretching the bungee chord out. The riders pull a ripchord to release the bungee, which swings them back and forth in diminishing arcs until it stops. Once the ripchord is pulled, there is no way to safely stop the bungee from swinging, you have to wait for gravity to do its work. So even if the children were screaming in pain, there was little the dad or employees could do until the bungee slowed down a lot.

    The park should have refunded or given them a raincheck and shut the attraction down at the first sign of rain. This is a major liability & I am very shocked that the park either doesn’t have a policy for rain or that the employees do not follow it. I understand the employees needing a manager, they have very little power to do anything but operate the attraction. The manager should have listened to the children and father, apologized, and given the refund without that much of a struggle (“My child was in pain and has welts” is very different from “they were scared so we need our money back”). Having happy returning customers is more important than being “right”.

  • Runia May 19, 2010, 11:26 am

    I think your father should have realised that rain at high speeds could get unpleasant. I mean, as you’re writing this, you’re an adult- and you obviously know and accept that being hit by rain drops while going very fast can be painful. It’s not hard to understand and it’s common sense- being hit by anything will make it more painful the faster you’re going, kind of like riding a bike and getting your face hit by a twig or some such. Your father, having been an adult back then, shouldn’t have let you on the ride in the first place.

  • Rosey May 19, 2010, 12:48 pm

    Joanne, the LW says quite clearly that their voices and cries were distinguishable on the video camera, so why would you not expect the people who were running the ride to understand them?

    That being said, I agree that it makes no sense that her father heard them, knew they were in pain, and apparently did not do anything to stop the ride.

  • ladycrim May 19, 2010, 1:08 pm

    Goldfish: if it’s the ride I’m thinking of, it’s essentially a swinging bungee cord and not mechanical. I’m not sure there is a way to stop it once it’s started.

  • Jayne May 19, 2010, 2:16 pm

    The father should have taken some responsibility and not allowed his kids to be on the ride in inclement weather. Just because you don’t enjoy a ride doesn’t mean you get an automatic refund – otherwise everyone would try to get away without paying. And most ride employees probably see that all the time.

    Perhaps if the father had acted with civility and manners, the park employees would have been more willing to refund the ride admission fee. Getting in the employees faces and yelling does not win you any friends, even if there is no profanity.

    Other than to showcase a rude father and perhaps clueless employees, I have no idea why this story was even posted.

  • AS May 19, 2010, 5:37 pm

    I am very sorry to hear you and your siblings struggle. It was very unfortunate, and honestly sucks.

    But that said, I am not sure the employees can be held too much at fault. When it starts getting cloudy, there is no way of predicting how long it would be before it starts pouring. It seems like you were the last customers and it hadn’t started raining already when you were on the lift. Hence, they took the risk to continue with the ride and then close. Parks will lose a lot of revenue if they close for a rain forecast. As lot of people said, if your father thought it might not be right to go on with the ride, he could have told the park to stop. I think that it was nice of the manager to refund the cost after he realized that the ride actually hurt, and your father wasn’t just trying to fish a free ride! They no doubt did a potentially risky thing, and maybe they can change their rules eventually (as many commentators pointed out, the staff don’t have much say on whether the ride should go on or not). But I don’t see much of an etiquette blunder on the part of the manager, and maybe if your father could have kept his calm talking to the staff.

  • Calliope May 19, 2010, 9:26 pm

    You said this happened when you were fourteen, and that it still upsets you. I presume you’re an adult now. Your father shouldn’t have let you on the ride in the rain, and the park shouldn’t have run the ride in the rain, but all told, you just got stung by some raindrops. I’d advise you to get over it.

  • Alexandra May 20, 2010, 1:20 am


    This was so not about the rain welts.

    The OP clearly states that what was upsetting, was being told that s/he felt differently than s/he actually did.

    That isn’t just rude — it’s controlling, and an attempt to make an individual powerless. I’m sure having suffered pain due to that person’s decisions may have mad him/her even more vulnerable to the situation — a borderline abusive dynamic. (I’m going to slap you, and tell you that you deserve it/liked it.) The way in which the employees responded, completely dismissed the children’s self-worth.

    Maybe not something to dwell on years down the road, but it’s understandable that remnants of the hurt, pain, shock, and feeling of powerlessness still exist.

  • Lizajane May 20, 2010, 9:26 am


    Really, the fact that her feelings were dismissed by someone she didn’t even know should cause her hurt, pain (redundant), shock and feeling(s) of powerlessness after all these years?

    I could understand that argument if it were ongoing or even if it were a one-time thing by someone she knew and trusted. I might still get torqued off for a minute every time I thought about it, but I certainly would not continue to feel powerless. That’s OPs choice.

  • Calliope May 20, 2010, 12:44 pm


    I just think people are taking this way too seriously. Yes, the manager was rude, but to me, it seems far more likely that his motive was to save money, not to control the LW and make her feel powerless. To be honest, I find comparisons between the LW’s story and domestic abuse, which seems to be what you’re getting at, to be incredibly offensive.
    There may be more to the story than rain welts, but I don’t see anything here that should still be upsetting years later. One person, a stranger, was rude to the LW. After that, the LW went home, and she never had to see the offending stranger again. If I were still upset about every time an adult treated me rudely and dismissively when I was a child, I couldn’t afford the therapy bills.

  • Kimberly May 22, 2010, 12:06 am

    If the park refunded money every time someone complained, they’d be out of business pretty quickly.

  • Patty May 22, 2010, 12:00 pm

    I’m sorry you still have hurt feelings over this incident, but to me no one used simple common sense in this. You, at 14 had the common sense to know that if the sky looks like rain and other rides are closing down…you should not go on that ride. Your father, same thing. The people that run the ride, know how long it takes to ride the ride and the fact that once it starts IT CAN’T BE STOPPED!

    And I quote “We were getting geared up, the equipment all strapped on and tightened. It was starting to get cloudy out and all of the other rides in the park started closing in the park due to expected thunderstorms coming our way. Except for our ride.” Why did you continue to get geared up? I would’ve turned around and gone another time. It’s not the ended of the world.

    I’m sorry, I would NOT have refunded your money. But, if I was running that ride, I also would’ve closed it down with the other rides.

  • Ginger September 2, 2010, 11:21 pm

    ONG – what a horrible experience for you. I’m glad you got your money back. It’s amazing the lies that will come out of a manager’s mouth just to save some money. Wouldn’t you rather refund the money and have the family continue to come back to the amusement park, or piss them off and have them bad-mouth the place to everyone? That loses more money. But at least you were given the money back.

    This reminds me of a time when I was about 6 and there was a class trip to am amusement park. It was made for kids and had baby rides and kid rides. I went on the roller coaster (a small one) with other kids and my mom (a chaperone). The coaster was unusually fast for a kiddie ride, so when the coaster slowed near the operator, gearing up for the 2nd go-round, my mom leaned over and asked if the ride could be slowed down since I was scared. The operator said yes. He then proceeded to SPEED UP the coaster! Horrible! I was terrified! I’m sure other kids were too. If he couldn’t slow it down, he should have said something, not say yes! This was a kids’ amusement park…I’m sure there are frightened children all the time. This employee should have been reprimanded for intentionally frightening a child.

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