For a journalism subject last semester, I (as I usually do) left myself two days to finish an assignment that should’ve really had a few weeks of preparation. So in an enormous hurry I remembered a rather odd, awkward incident, knowing that the sources would be easy to come across. Plus, it would only take a couple of hours to write. Needless to say, I failed this piece of assessment.
But that doesn’t matter as much as the fact that I’m still quite fond of the article. Judge for yourselves (and I’m not using that term loosely):
ANYTHING BUT A JOY RIDE
By Philip McGann
It was a relatively warm day for mid-winter. It seemed like it would be a fun day all around, filled with friends, fun, frivolity, rides, thrills, spills, overpriced food and occasional nausea. But after we knew better; August 12, 2009 was a day that we agreed never to speak of again. In fact, for a friend and I, the words “log-ride” still induce a sensation similar to a post-traumatic shell-shock.
For the purposes of this article, my friend wished to remain unnamed. So, of course, in the interests of friendship (and not to mention journalistic integrity), this article will abstain from the use of his name. So, throughout the article my friend will be titled Mr Patrick… No, on second thought, people can be traced a lot more easily through last names than first. So, throughout the article my friend will be titled Ralph.
So, as Ralph recounted, “one day a bunch of us decided to go to Dreamworld… I can’t remember how many of us were actually on the log ride.” At this point, Peta (a witness to the Log Ride event) reminded him that “we had two girls and two guys in each one, except your one had three guys.” Ralph continued: “Anyway, it was an odd number. So in the end there either had to be three or one on the log.” Peta quickly pointed out that the logs can seat “three or four people,” to which Ralph replied, “three or four children,” in a rage-filled tone. He was clearly distraught. “Anyway, one of the rides is called the Log Ride. So it’s basically a small log, just carved out, and it’s got two seats; key word: two seats.”
Ralph continued, “the log goes around on a semi-romantic cruise, and climaxes with a-” At this point I had to pull him up on his choice of words. What he meant to say though, was that the ride apexes with a brief 50 kilometre-an-hour plunge down a stream. On the Dreamworld website, they advertise it as such: “Splash down at the Rocky Hollow aboard hollowed-out logs as they traverse the watercourse. Climb the aqueduct and plunge down the ramp at 50 km/h.” Apparently, the logs aren’t as “hollowed out” as the integrity of the Dreamworld staff.
Ralph continued: “All the other rides had two guys or girls in them, and then they got to the end and there was only me, Phil and Mattias left.” Mattias is a Swedish person. “And so we went up to the log, and the lady who was operating it told us that all three of us had to get in. And we were like: ‘okay, this is awkward.’ Because, as I said, it really only seats two adults.”
In regards to this clear breach of the Personal Space Act of 1972 (may not be legally binding act), I decided to hit the sausage at its source. I called the Dreamworld Complaints Department, where “Lauren” was unlucky enough to take the call. I jumped the gates:
“Why, when we were three full-grown men, were we put into one log? Is this a general practice at Dreamworld?”
She stumbled, clearly taken aback with the gravity of this injustice. “Was your problem that there were too many people in the log?”
“Did you say anything at the time, about you all being in the same log?”
I paused, for dramatic effect. “Not really.” I started to feel sorry for this poor “Lauren,” so I changed my tack. “Could you tell me how big the actual seats are?”
“Yeah, I’d have to contact the engineering department, but I could e-mail the details to you if you like.”
Since the phone-call four days ago, no e-mail has yet been sent. Dreamworld clearly has something to hide. Though, rest assured, I’m not done with “Lauren” yet.
Anyway, after being forced into this holocaust of awkwardness (no, that’s not an extreme term), the situation just got worse and worse. Once told to get into the log, Ralph recounted that “we realised: ‘Okay this means that two of us are gonna be sitting together in a very enclosed space. It’s gonna be awkward.’ So we played scissors, paper, rock to determine who would be the guy who got to sit by himself. Mattias, the lucky Swede won.” The bitterness that was seeping through the words “lucky Swede” cannot be done justice in this article. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only justice not being upheld in this article.
Ralph explained the awkwardness in more detail. Not that it was necessary, but he’s a science student, so you’ll have to excuse him. “Now it was awkward because of the way the seats are arranged. To be sitting properly, the person at the back, who happened to be Phil-” Mr D, another housemate, entered the room at this point. “-So I was the one in the front, and Phil had his legs wrapped around me.” Mr D commented, quite acutely, that “I think I walked in at a bad time.”
Ralph ignored Mr D’s comment and went on. “And then the lady over the loud speaker told us to get closer together. And Mattias was all: ‘whoopsidoodle, you guys need to cuddle up a bit more.’ And saying various Swedish insults.” I wasn’t able to find a translation for the term “whoopsidoodle,” though I think we can safely assume it’s a Swedish term of contempt.
“Mrs R”, another member of the 12/08/09 Dreamworld group, who was incidentally (and luckily) in the log in front of us, recalls the situation. “Phil and Ralph cautiously slipped into the log, one snuggled up behind the other. It was a hilarious sight with their long gangly legs stretched or tucked up beneath them, not to mention the uncomfortable look on their faces. Finally, we were off. Unfortunately [Mrs L] and I didn’t get to witness the ride of these guys as we were in front of them.” As they say though, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Though Mrs R wasn’t privy to the witnessing of the incident, there were people who were; dozens of random spectators. As Ralph recalled: “We were going along, and there was this section like a balcony, where people walking past could just look over. And there was basically a group of people just sitting there watching us.” At the time I assumed that Tiger Island was on a break, and the crowd had decided to watch something a little less natural.
“We were just pleading with them, saying ‘we don’t normally do this. We didn’t want it to be like this’… And they were just judging us with their eyes.” I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is the worst form of judging.
According to recent professional, highly reputable (yet for the purposes of this article, anonymous) studies, the average Western male needs 60 centimetres on either side, 70 centimetres in front and 40 centimetres behind in order to feel comfortable. In this incident, there were zero inches of personal space on either side, zero inches of personal space in front, and zero inches of personal space behind my friend and I. This is quite a large difference from the ideal circumstance.
After the apex of the ride, a camera was positioned in such a way as to capture the moment. Although in this case, it was more of a Kojak moment than a Kodak moment, as Ralph and I were photographed with grimaces of unpleasantness, rather than cheers of excitement. If only the Dreamworld photographs weren’t ridiculously expensive, I would have been able to purchase one as an evidence of this atrocity.
After the “plunge down the aqueduct,” Ralph and I got drenched from the splash-back. We got out of the ride wet, embarrassed, dejected. The ride caused us more terror than The Tower of Terror, our dignity more of a sudden drop than The Giant Drop, and our sense of personal gravitas more disquiet than The Claw.
Though after all that, we still live to tell the story of what happened on the Log Ride on August 12, 2009. I’m not proud of it, I don’t have fond memories of it, but in the consideration of the well-being of society I thought it’d be worthwhile to tell it, so nobody else would have to go through the trauma that Ralph and I have gone through.