Friends & neighbors, I have seen the heart of darkness. I have stared into the abyss. I have crossed the barren wastes of armageddon. I spent Saturday afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese and lived to tell the tale.
My beloved sister asked if we could have our shared birthday celebration at the home of Mr. Cheese. Because I love her dearly and knew that 18-month old Sainted Nephew Colton might have fun, I agreed. Hanging out with them, our parents & Sainted Wife was fun. The pizza was surprisingly edible (or at least didn't try & violently escape later) and Colt did seem to enjoy himself. So all that was good.
But the dead-eyed looks of existential angst on the faces of the employees was a sight to behold. The sheer desperation and agony at being forced to lead around some pour soul stuffed into a smelly mascot suit could just break your heart. I saw employees playing rock, paper, scissors to see who would clean up a wet bathroom (and with roughly 12,500 kids in the building, you couldn't have gotten me in one of those bathrooms at gunpoint.) We asked one of them who cleans up the munchkin habitrail that was so popular with the kids. The answer: "That's a fun job...sometimes it gets cleaned & sometimes it doesn't."
The teenagers I could understand. This was just a part time gig to make a little folding money. It was adults who worked there who broke my heart. You could see it in their faces...how did it come to this? Perhaps they turned to the bottle in their youth and this was all they could get. Perhaps they majored in Elizabethan poetry or Conversational Klingon in college. But how do you get up every single day knowing that all that lies ahead is 8 hours of screaming kids and animatronic rats? If it were me, I'd have to lock up all firearms and sharp objects.
So beware...count your blessings. The next time you're tempted to think that your job sucks & nothing could possibly be worse, say to yourself "It's not Chuck E. Cheese. It's not Chuck E. Cheese."
Unless it is...in which case, may God have mercy on your soul!