Dec 25 2012

Six Flags and the Flash Pass Should We allow a Caste System in our Amusement Parks?

Published by at 6:00 am under Uncategorized


Six Flags and the Flash Pass


Should we allow a caste system in amusement parks?


·        One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.  One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.  ~Chinese Proverb


·        Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.  ~George-Louis de Buffon


·        Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.  ~John Quincy Adams


·        Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.  ~Mac McCleary


·        How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake   mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? ~Paul Sweeney

  As I read these quotes, and the many like them, I bemoan the fact that I never had the opportunity to take counsel with any of these erudite gentlemen, so that I could learn from them the secret of this wonderful attribute. For when I ponder my own difficulties and daily frustrations, I have no doubt that their insight would have substantially improved my quality of living.  


Observe, if you will:


My barber, whom I have been visiting for the past ten years, gets a rather handsome holiday gift from me, come the proper season His secret? He has earned such high esteem in my eyes, simply because he is cognizant of the fact that it is difficult for me to sit for an extended amount of time, and he makes every effort to expedite the process.


One night while shopping   I gave serious contemplation toward calling security in Shoprite, because the gentleman in front of me had eleven items, and not the express line limit of ten. (If you get two bottles of Coke, is that one item or two?)


Remember, going back about a year and a half ago, when a few Jet Blue planes remained on the tarmac, for up to nine hours? The last time I took a flight, I realized that I no longer had a phobia of flying, rather now, a phobia of waiting.


I share all of this with you, my readers and dear friends, not to expose my Foibles

and Idiosyncrasies, but rather as a prelude to an observation I made, while on my families annual three day, end of summer getaway.


This year we chose Six Flags New England, a no brainer, since we had won tickets in a reading contest. As always, we stay in a beautiful hotel, which is important to the kids, and the huge discount I get from Priceline, makes it amenable to me too. They swim, have races to the ice machine, and as long as they stay young at heart, I won’t have to constantly come up with greater and more exciting destinations.


As we drove up to the park, the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the crowd levels did not look too bad, even though it looked as if it was going to be a gorgeous day. Being that we had tickets already, we were ushered straight into the park, and as I took in the scenes, I was mighty pleased with our itinerary for the day. I gazed around to see guest relations in front of me. There were two souvenir Shops to my right, a ticket window a stone’s throw away; and then I saw it, it was a small

Sign, hanging over the ticket window in an unobtrusive, yet clearly noticeable manner. The sign read quite simply “buy your flash pass here”


What was a flash pass? I wondered, perhaps it was one of those stations where        one goes to buy a picture that was taken of them when they rode the flume?


Or maybe the Flash Pass was a fancy version of a park map, designed to help guests navigate through its rides and attractions, lest they spend their visit perpetually asking for directions.


Much to my surprise, the Flash Pass was neither of these two of my conjectures,       but rather, a shockingly different concept, after all.


The concept as described, word for word by the Six Flags website.

“Pack in all the thrills and excitement you can with The Flash Pass. Six Flags’ virtual ride reservation system holds your place in line electronically, so you can spend more time having fun and less time waiting for our most popular attractions. When it’s almost time for your turn to ride, an alert is sent to your Flash Pass device. It’s that simple.

·        A Regular The Flash Pass allows you to enjoy your day at Six Flags by avoiding long lines at your favorite rides. With a Regular The Flash Pass, you wait as long as everyone else is waiting, but not in line— you can enjoy your free time elsewhere in the park.

With a GOLD Flash Pass, you enjoy a reduced wait time of up to 75%—allowing you to ride more and wait less.


·        Hmmm…what a novel idea! Don’t like to wait? Want to maximize your visit, which after all, you paid good money for?  Then just double or triple your entrance fee, and you will be off on your way to a guaranteed experience of non stop, spills and thrills!

Wow! Perfect for someone like me! If I can’t sit in a barber chair, how will I stand on lines that read “45 minutes from this point?”


 What a brilliant concept, this flash pass was. The park makes more money, I don’t have to wait, and the poor guy I cut in line, he is guaranteed to go next, as two “flash pass” customers aren’t allowed to ride back to back.

Then I got to thinking about what the implications might be, if we created for ourselves, a “Flash Pass society. While some of the applications are obviously far fetched, who would have though of an amusement park selling such passes, twenty years ago?

Patient A is lying on a gurney, in the middle of cardiac arrest. The Dr is trying valiantly to save him via the use of chest compressions. Just as it seems that the patient is coming to, in rushes an ambulance with a young man who has suffered three broken ribs, but is nonetheless conscious and healthy.

As the patient with the rib injury complains about his pain, and urges the Dr. to hurry, the Dr. reminds him, that he’s here because of a rough basketball game, while the patient on the table may become an organ donor within minutes, the rib patients, has had enough, so he painfully reaches into his pocket and retrieves – you got it – His Flash Pass.

Where else do we wait? Movies, Ballgames, Circus, Toll Booth?  Waiting has become an essential and timely part of our lives. Commuting, for example, is a glorified manner of waiting, we just “wait” until our mode of transport gets us to our destination.

Cutting lines, or getting preferential treatment, represents a value system that is an anathema to what Judaism stands for. It leads to Chaos, and eventually a breakdown in societal function.

Which is why when we see the Lord Almighty in the Torah, we find that he has little tolerance for division or strife. Our Rabbis tell us that each one of us is created in God’s image, and because of that, if one individual harms another, be it physical, emotional or in some other capacity – it is akin to destroying an artist’s painting – you have insulted the artist – who in this case is God. We are also told that our job in this world is to be God like – kind, merciful and just – and therefore when I do hurt someone, I have not complied with this other tenant either.

The Bible tells us that God told Noah to build an Ark, unless he felt like treading water. It took Noach 120 years to complete this massive construction, which according to the commentaries, was on display for so long. Unfortunately, the generation, instead of taking advantage of God’s magnanimous opportunity, they continued to sin, and became more decadent and immoral, day after day. Despite these actions, God relented, holding out hope that they would “hop on board” Finally the Bible tells us that the rains began, but the verses that immediately precede the unleashing of the flood, tell a shed a remarkable insight on God’s system of justice. The great and sagely commentator Rashi, remarks – that the verse immediately preceding the waters, states that the Jewish people were infested with corruption. Says Rashi, God had patience for other since, idol worship, immorality, etc. But when it comes to interpersonal matters, that we value ourselves more than we do others, that’s when he has had his fill, and it begins to pour.

Conversely, at the end of the portion, we are told of another, arguably more egregious sin, which perhaps should have also ruined the world.  The sinners who attempted to build a tower, to somehow “fight the Lord. In this case, the people are unified, which is exactly why their punishment was the name Bavel, or mixed up. No where, do we find, however, that God even contemplates wiping out mankind again, despite the fact that this was, arguably, a greater rebellion.

The main thing a Jew has to know is that there are no “flash passes” in life. There are no entitlements in this world, and if I lack something that others have, God is the ultimate accountant, and every portfolio will be straightened out in the long run. We are Jews, the people who do the most Chased, or kindness, than any nation in the world. Check the major hospitals in NYC on Friday afternoon, and you will find stocked refrigerators for patients and their families, not to mention hospitality, courtesy of the Sat mar Chasidim, Bikur Cholim and others. Thank goodness, we don’t know from it, but the amount of pure kindness and energy, not to mention funding, that goes into so many project is absolutely mind boggling.  For all that ails us, and for the areas in which we need to grow, there is something remarkable about the feeling of responsibility of one Jew to another. Rich, poor, well, or ill, ours’ is a nation that, like no other, tries to emulate God, and to realize that our fellow humans are his creations too. We are all worthy of this status, and no one has the right to take it from us.

There is no room for the “Flash Pass” in our parks of amusement.