#12 In Roads-Mark


I’m happily skipping through the amusement park with a waffle cone ice cream. The carousel was fun and I was headed out to go on some of the other rides before I realized they were all for kids. No tall people allowed. The signs hanging on the fence outside each ride explained: “You have to be no taller than Peter Rabbit’s ears to ride this ride.” I decided to test the rules and went to the ride that was at the far end of the park.

“I really want to ride the train,” I tell the kid at the controls. He looks at me with a smile, leans over and looks at the sign, then looks back at me as if I’m an idiot. “I know what it says, but there’s no one around and you look bored and I really do want to ride the train.” Without a word, he motions to the sign and shrugs. Mark doesn’t want to tell me no but he has no intention of letting me in the gate. “I’ll give you five bucks,” I tell him. He ignores me.

“This is your first job isn’t it?” I ask while working on the melting cone. He sighs a deep sigh as he figures out I’m not going to go away. “Yes, first job and first day,” comes the reply. He’s blushing and I realize he’s shy. I ask how he likes it and he says it’s ok, he spent a lot of time at the park as a child because he used to come down to eat the ice cream. I ask what other kind of stuff there was to do for kids in town. He looks to the sky as if searching for an answer among the clouds and shrugs. “I don’t know, there’s a rec hall that was pretty cool. It’s a nice place, I went there a lot.” I ask about the rivers and fishing or swimming or any of the places I’d think a boy would like to hang out but he shakes his head. He tells me he’s 17 and grew up in North Platte and he likes the town ok. I ask if I can take his picture and this seems to please him.

“You’re not going to let me ride the train, are you?” I smile. “Nope,” comes the answer. I shake his hand and tell him he’s a good employee. I thank him for his patience. He smiles and waves goodbye then returns to his post at the gate and resumes guarding the train.


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