JZ Blogger

Kindness in the Roller Coaster
fredag, juni 20, 2008, 8:33
Filed under: General Blogging

Yesterday, we (Christa, her brother Cohen, their mom, Christa’s friend Frida, my sister Caroline and I) went to Särkänniemi, an amusement park in Tammerfors (aka. Tampere in Finnish) here in Finland. A great day, with lots of fun!

Being one of the largest (if not the largest, not sure… larger than Borgbacken in Helsinki, anyway) amusement parks in Finland, and having heard great words about the park in advance, my expectations on the park itself were high. A bit too high, unfortunately. There were some cool rides, and especially one roller coaster in which you lie down rather than sit was new to me. The others, however, were smaller versions of rides I’ve been to elsewhere (and as always when talking about these subjects, I can’t help but comparing things to the largest park in our part of the world: Heide Park in northern Germany).

But hey, don’t get me wrong now. Särkänniemi was great! And with good company, things always get even better still (no matter the size of the park). And good company I had. My sister and I have a tradition to make even the slowest ride a screaming adventure, and with all the others being like-minded, everyone joined in on the fun. With such an enhanced and energetic atmosphere, who cares if the only ride is a small carousel (which obviously wasn’t the case her, tough 😛 )?

Add to this my recent interest in doing random acts of kindness, something which was frequently done yesterday. It all started when we were screaming on the top of our lungs at ”the ship” (you know, the Viking ship that swings back and forth), followed by a round of applause once the ride was over (seriously, the ride isn’t that exciting, but we wanted to cheer everyone else up who looked bored on the ride). The result of our sore throats: a laughing and well-entertained ride operator. After that, it became out goal to spread joy to all the otherwise seemingly bored employees of the park.

Here’s a list of all the people we made smile:

  1. ”The Ship” operator – The guy who started it all! We raised our arms and screamed in a crowd of ”boring Finns”, he gave us a laugh and a smile in return.
  2. Pizza place employees – While waiting for our orders at a pizza place, we placed our numbered signs (those used by the staff to get the correct order to the correct table) on top of each other. The signs (we had three of them) were rather large, so the tower was tall. Most of the staff walking past looking for the number related to the order they were carrying gave us a smile and a quiet giggle as they eyed the signs looking for their number (while others gave us a weird look). Even though that wasn’t our goal (the tower was build solely for our own pleasure while waiting), it surely must count as making someone’s day a tad bit more interesting.
  3. Second operator of ”The Ship” – While the first one started it all, the second one (a shift later) was the one benefitting the most from our actions. This time we really tried to ”make his day”. And I believe we succeeded. More screaming and applauding, this time even when we weren’t on the ride ourselves. We also asked him to pose with us and have his picture taken with us, which further added to the fun. As we left, he waved, and later in the day when he left to go home he was smiling and waving at us even though we weren’t riding the ship any longer. And hey, the other park visitors being (un)fortunate enough to be on the ride the same time as we also got themselves a good laugh.
  4. Woman at the ”pull a string, win every time”-stand – We all went to this win-every-time stand, looking casual like any other customer. Caroline bought a round, and the rest of us were watching as she picked a string and pulled it. As the prize popped up, we all started applauding and cheering her! The woman working by the stand got herself a surprise, especially as Caroline bent forward to hug and thank her. Of course, this was all planned. The woman appeared happy and laughed and smiled. So what was the actual prize? A small, useless dolphin, which we later gave to the above mentioned ship operator. Money well spent.
  5. Water ride operator – Another one of our planned actions involved an operator by a water ride. The plan was to give her a hug after the ride, which we all did. The operator, however, looked more scared than pleasantly surprised. When we asked if we could take her picture, she refused. Still, she did smile, and as the park was closing later on and we passed her as she was leaving her station, she did give us a shy smile of recognition. I bet we still made her day a tad bit different!
  6. Candy woman – Caroline had the idea of buying candy only to give it to the person you just bought it from. We tried this and went for a ”get six candy bars for 2€” offer. One of the bars went to the woman we bought it from, and she did look genuinely happy and positively surprised. She did, however, ask us not to publish the picture we took of her on the internet. So I won’t.
  7. Bus driver – A kind female bus driver with surprisingly good English took us from Särkänniemi to the train station. She was the first to receive one of the five remaining candy bars. Another positive surprise followed by a genuine smile.
  8. Singing hippies – By the train station, two girls were sitting on the pavement singing along with a radio. It sounded dreadful! However, they looked happy and their spirit affected everyone passing them, so we decided to give them a candy bar. We also took the opportunity to comment on their ”lovely singing”. As we left, we heard them talking and laughing, most likely about what had just happened.
  9. Ticket conductor – On the train, we gave the ticket conductor another one of our candy bars. She (surprisingly many female workers in the field of public transportation) appeared puzzled at first, not really understanding what we were giving her, but later she thanked us as it all became evident to her. Perhaps not the most thrilled person of the day, but still she did give the next traveler whose ticket she asked to see and extra welcoming smile.
  10. Ourselves – On our journey of spreading joy to others, we ourselves were probably the ones benefitting the most from it all. It’s great how someone else’s happy reaction to your actions can make you feel a lot better!

So there you have it. A great day, with many great smiles. Särkänniemi will never be the same without us 😀


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