Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shooting Tourists

Life was slow at times when I was a sophomore in college.  My friend Dave and I broke up the monotony by driving to Tampa twice a month to enjoy ourselves at Busch Gardens.  Let me explain.  That year, Busch Gardens offered a special deal.  If you purchased one admission to the park, you could return as many times as you wanted absolutely free.  They handed out these little ID cards with your picture on it (I was able to convince the picture lady to let me pose for mine, I was able to get a butt slap action photo as my means of identification).  So we went once at the beginning of the year and several times more for only gas money.  We would drive down on Friday night and stay with Dave's family or some friends, go to the park on Saturday then again for a half day on Sunday before returning to Gainesville.  (I have another post coming regarding one of these trips)

Now most patrons of the park ride the roller coasters and partake in the other attractions.  Dave and I enjoyed those rides on our first trip.  But one can only ride the Kumba so many times.  Every trip to Busch Gardens (aside from first one) was solely for one purpose.  Dave and I would spend several hours (literally) enhancing the experience of the Congo River Rapids by pumping quarters into the huge squirt gun machines and drenching complete strangers.  Sure we would stop for lunch, and occasionally ride the Kumba, but we spent nearly the entire time manning the water cannons.  At the time, I was delivering pizzas a couple days a week.  I could accumulate hundreds of quarters in a few weeks at work from all the "keep the change" transactions.  Each one would translate into a few sopping wet tourists.

Dave and I acquired such skill in shooting tourists (as we liked to call it) that people started to take notice.  We could look upstream and determine exactly which person in the raft would be in direct alignment with the gun once they reached us.  We would taunt the people on the ride knowing full well that they would be soaked in a few seconds.  For example:  "Hey you in the Hawaiian shirt, get ready!"or "Hey beer mug necklace, you're about to get wet!"  Busch Gardens sold hats in the likeness of various zoo animals, so my personal favorite was "Hey elephant head, I'm coming for you buddy!"  Some of the people on the ride would yell back, some wouldn't, some would try to move out of the way, some thought we were bluffing, they all got wet.  

Our water projectile expertise and comedic antics drew quite a crowd.  We had strangers giving us quarters and pointing out when their family or friend's raft was coming.  Mostly we were receiving money from elderly people who could not go on the ride themselves but couldn't resist getting their grandkids wet.  Inexperienced shooters could not trust 25 cents to fate, so they depended on us for accurate timing.  Even staff members would come by for a laugh or two.  By the end of the day, we would be entertaining a large group of spectators.  Anheuser Busch should have been paying us.

My proudest moment came on our last visit.  It was the end of a successful day, the park was closing and Dave an I were waiting by the exit for a few friends who came with us (they wasted their time riding coasters all day).  As we sat there surveying the passing crowd for our friends, we witnessed several people staring at us either dripping excessively, carrying their socks over their shoulders to dry them out, or angry young females in need of a blow dryer.  One particular teenage girl leaned over to her mother and said "those are the two guys I was telling you about" as she walked past.  The mother gave me a menacing look, I was beaming with pride.  I just raised my hand, mimicked a gun with my fingers, took aim, winked at her and smiled.

1 comment:

  1. I really wish you would post more. These all make me laugh till I cry!