This is a little long, but I have been on vacation having fun visiting with relatives. This is about one of our Workamper jobs, which was fun but ended badly.
Congratulations and Best Wishes to the New Managers, Sandy, and Greg. As “hands-on” managers, you plan on “hitting the ground running” with your new policies. This Park will surely mirror all the Theme Parks across this great country. As former Activity Directors, we have observed up close and personal how you will transform our laid-back hardworking, friendly atmosphere we managed to create. It will become the preferred rigid structured entertainment environment that appears to be the standard for other up-scale theme parks.
One can clearly see the high regard you hold for the workampers. How much you appreciate their co-operation during this two-month time of turmoil. You are determined to completely re-organize the park. You will surely elevate it to the proper standards that workampers and guests have come to expect of other well-oiled corporate enterprises.
If you didn’t catch the sarcasm above, read on.
In July of 2013, we were hired as Activity Directors with a specified salary of $2500.00 a month. However, you had to work a full year to receive that amount as the pay was calculated by the new math, i.e., 2500 X 12 months divided by 26 pay periods. We appreciated that after a discussion with the owner of the park, our pay was adjusted
We were asked to arrive in February of 2014, a month early, to help organize and become familiar with the camp and the department. We drove 1000 miles (we figure .50 cents a mile for travel between jobs) at the cost of approx. $500.00. We arrived to find everyone we talked to was depressed and negative and found the department (and I use that term loosely), and the park was in chaos!
We had a contract stating that we were on the salary. The interim manager said we would have to work 8 hours a week to pay for the site until the beginning of the next month. After looking at the condition of the department, we decided to start work immediately. We had a contract, so all would be taken care of. Wrong! We never got paid for that week of work.
When we asked for help and information on what was expected as activities, we were told to “make it up as you go along”! Thanks a lot!
Two of the big sellers for the park were the painting of teeShirts and little ceramic figurines. There was no inventory of the ceramics and tee shirts! The teeshirts were thrown in boxes and plastic bins, not sealed, and most had mice droppings in them. We inventoried everything and prepared a spreadsheet on our computers as the “office” no computers were set up for us. The files were jumbled together in one two-drawer file cabinet and several boxes. Our office was a bare room with a trench down the middle. Internet reception was only available by the back door in the rec room.
We also had no help hired. We were it!! We begged to have a couple that was promised management of the store and were waiting for work anywhere. Fran and Paula came to work for us and were wonderfully hard-working workampers. They helped us organize the paint for the ceramics, which was stored in a closet with no light. None of the cans were labeled as to the color. We (all four of us) hand shook each of the gallon cans and marked them properly. We organized the equipment and ordered small plastic containers to pour small amounts on palates.
We met the Regional Manager, and he showed us the huge new addition added to the existing structure. We were told that our job was to move everything from the old rec center into the new addition. We set up tables for breakfast and lunches in the old room. Not a small task! But we did it in plenty of time for the first guests to arrive. He informed us that we could just stack the t-shirts on the shelves under the desk. We tried to tell him that it would be impossible to keep them separate once the season started. Thankfully he left to do bigger and better things.
By this time, our patience had worn so thin that we tendered our resignation. We hated to leave but killing ourselves for people that did not appreciate us was not on our list of “wants!” However, the new manager convinced us to stay on, and we agreed after meeting with the owner. The conditions were that we get computers, internet, the trench in our office would be filled, and for heaven’s sake, our credit cards. And to their credit, it was done, albeit at a snail’s pace.
We only had two days off, and that was when we quit again and regrettably came back. It seems like every week, there were new “responsibilities” added to our duties. They added on the following, we were responsible for cleaning the building and taking the trash to the dumpster in our Golf Cart that was issued to us, which by the way, made a terrible noise. We later found out that one of the back wheels was installed backward and was never fixed. We also had to change the sign at the parks opening every week to the new weekly theme. Oh, and the real deal-killer came when they informed us that we were responsible for mowing our sites, and we told them that “it ain’t happening, baby!” And it didn’t! The day we finally left, the foot-tall clover was rather pretty.
All the White tables and chairs were scrubbed, and all the ugly stained black plastic was replaced with semi-clear plastic. The floors, walls, and kitchen were scrubbed and organized, and the dining area was set with colorful table cloths. Fran and Paula had owned a park before, volunteered to organize the kitchen, and did a bang-up job! They had Ice Cream and cookies every week. They cooked hotdogs, hamburgers, and fries. Weekly they gave us a list of what they needed to keep the kitchen running.
Another thing that we were responsible for was keeping the theme animals (men inside pretending they were animals. It was hot and muggy; we made sure the ice packs stayed frozen so they did not collapse from heatstroke. Someone had to ferry them around in the squeaky golf cart. We must have taken a million pictures of people standing next to them. There was a short storytime, where one of them would read to children.
We were given several dozen stuffed huge bear claw pillows that didn’t sell and told to use them any way we wanted to. So we got the kids to put one in each hand and have races with a friend holding their feet by their waists and walking on the bear claws. It was a huge hit! Parents took hundreds of pictures of the races.
Our biggest hit was the Train Robbery! There was an adorable colorful Theme train with a real steam engine; we had a Captain that drove it around the park. We bought cowboy hats, toy guns, and bandanas for all the kids and staged a train robbery.
When we finally got our Credit Cards, we haunted every Walmart in the area and purchased resin shelves to store the tee shirts under the shelf. This kept them clean and easier to find, labeled as to size and design.
We purchased resin containers with drawers for our office to store the ceramic statues on the new resin shelving. This saved the worker from running upstairs to get new stock.
We were close to opening day, and we didn’t have hardly any tee-shirts or ceramics. The owner came in, and we talked to him; he asked what we needed to be ready for opening day. I told him my little Credit Card would not even be a drop in the bucket to cover the cost of ceramics and teeshirts. He told me to call my orders in and tell them to contact him, and he would give them his Credit Card, so I did. The interim manager had a shit-fit when the big semi came in with our order. But we were ready for the Opening, and it was a rousing success!
We had a visit from the National Supervisors after the manager quit and an Interim Manager arrived. All sounded well as the Interim Manager seemed to “be happy with our efforts to get things done. He told us that new managers were coming and that they were “hands-on.”
Then the other shoe dropped!!
The new Managers showed up! Hands-on was an understatement! We were told that we were being “demoted” to Lead Activities. And we would no longer be able to wear the Polo shirts we were issued but would wear tee shirts with a name tag placed on the opposite side of the Company logo. In addition, we were required to wear khaki slacks & white tennis shoes. No big issue there, but there was no compensation for purchasing them. The grumbling from employees got louder every day.
But the “you know what hit the fan” moment came when they told us that we would shut down the Activity Center from Monday to Friday until the end of May. The work we did on the website has to be changed to the “accepted standard” wording; in other words, “no creativity needed.” All the workers would be reduced to work for site or other work “might be” found in other departments.
The “hands-on” new managers could not see all the hard work we accomplished and had many demands for change. They set up interviews with every employee. The day they “interviewed” us, they found fault with everything we had done. So we decided to tender our resignation. I was always disappointed that I never heard from the owner; he had our numbers. Welcome to corporate America! We, and our two hard-working workamper, more than earned our pay, and I still have a hard time accepting the attitude of the new Managers.