Chicago TV station busts carnival ride ops for texting on the job

Posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009 10:52 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The CBS affiliate in Chicago caught ride operators ignoring safety procedures repeatedly. What did they catch them doing? They were texting. And texting. And texting on their cell phones.

Read more and see the video from WBBM/Chicago.

[Ed. note: While there was obvious unsafe behavior here, we're mostly posting this because of the hilarious minor league reporting and editorializing by the station. "Ticket to Danger?" Seriously? -J]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 10:58 AM

"Operators are supposed to be watching the ride to insure your safety."

Even better when a "journalist" doesn't know the difference between ensure and insure.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 11:09 AM

Someone is trying to get a gig on Dateline NBC..

I love "scare tactic journalism"

And if you have been to any of the traveling carnivals, the ride ops texting is truly the least of your worries.

Last edited by ridemcoaster, Tuesday, September 1, 2009 11:11 AM
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 11:23 AM

Agree with above. It's not safe, but I have seen texting by ride operators at every park I have been to this year- maybe sans Cedar Point.

Last edited by DejaVuNitro, Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:23 PM
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:15 PM

Back in the day, this idiot jumped on a moving swinging ship with me. Then again, we had a camera too, so who am I to talk? Silly carnies.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:51 PM

Not since Dorothy Hamill have I seen such a smart haircut.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:53 PM

Carnies texting? GASP! I've never seen THAT before!!!

;)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 1:02 PM

ridemcoaster said:
Someone is trying to get a gig on Dateline NBC..

I love "scare tactic journalism"

And if you have been to any of the traveling carnivals, the ride ops texting is truly the least of your worries.

Yeah, I love the tone of these articles--- "Thank God we were there to save everyone!" Maybe they'll move up and start checking out the ops on the country's mass transit systems?

I'm also not sure what the woman who thought she was sliding out from the WipeOut near Philly has to do with this story.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 1:24 PM

Well, that certainly is the ticket to danger, if I ever saw one.

I've done a lot of carnival riding and have witnessed a lot of things. Stepping way over there for a smoke, talking on the phone, climbing under the ride to perform repairs, jumping on the ride, jumping off the ride, making out with girls, going way over there to grab some lunch, sitting down to eat lunch- all of this while the ride was operating.

And these are not the least of our worries when it comes to carnies. ooops... I mean Showmen.

A few years ago, probably around fair time, our paper ran an interest story about the life of a carny. It's a sad life, really, and to work it is almost like owing your soul to the company store. Your wage is small, and you pay the company back for your bunk and food. Unless you are the driver, you aren't paid for hours on the road or "dark" nights. So at best it's a break even proposition and most of the guys get trapped into it with not much of a way out. It's little wonder who you see there, or why they are miserable, bored, and lackadaisical on the job.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 1:26 PM

Jeff said:
Back in the day, this idiot jumped on a moving swinging ship with me. Then again, we had a camera too, so who am I to talk? Silly carnies.

Looking Good Mr. Carter..

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 2:58 PM

While the tone of the story may be a tad over dramatic, I am glad this type of behavior is being exposed to the General Public. My hope is that it will lead to operators who are willing to stop these types of actions on their own.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 8:22 PM

I've seen a lot of dumb ride operators even outside of carnivals do crazy things (i.e. riding the Carolina Cyclone sitting on top of the harness in the nose car) similar to the things in the video you linked Jeff.

This type of behavior makes me very happy that these rides usually require no more thought than pressing a green button once every 3 or 4 minutes.

In the case of my example, the Darwin Awards are always there when common sense fails.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 9:27 PM

I have seen employies at cedarpoint and six flags texting while working.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009 10:21 PM

My father likes to tell the story of his experience on a Ferris wheel at a county fair decades ago. Allegedly the ride op left to go eat lunch for half an hour...with the ride running. The riders yelled and screamed endlessly, but they were drowned out by other ride noise.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009 3:02 AM

RatherGoodBear said:
I'm also not sure what the woman who thought she was sliding out from the WipeOut near Philly has to do with this story.

If the op at the fair in Chicago hadn't been busted texting then the woman in Philly would have been more secure...duh! It's a shame because this is a valid safety concern that could have been presented as such. But the extreme sensationalism and grabbing random fair issues nationwide to sell the story discredits it.

I do admit that I love, on an entertaining level, when journalism sounds like an old b-movie. There's no need for fair goers to stop by the spook house for a fright. Thanks to negligent on the job texting this year, each and every rider just might get a free ride.. into the mouth of terror!

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Thursday, September 3, 2009 12:44 AM

Umm...If the guy was watching the Whipeout ride instead of texting, he could have pressed the emergency stop button that his hand should have been hovering over throughout the cycle.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009 12:11 PM

Better yet, look at the related stories at the end. Imagine getting strapped in by one of these guys. ;)

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009 2:47 AM

Jeff said:
Then again, we had a camera too, so who am I to talk? Silly carnies.

Did I hear a "Holy Sh*t" in there? :)

Oh and Dirussos sausage is the best!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009 12:17 PM

I stopped by cedarpoint for a few hours on friday, and the ride operator for mean streak was texting while operating the ride.

I remember when I worked there, we were not allowed to have our cell phones with us while on the clock.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009 1:03 PM

LK, the story of the Wipeout in Philly-- which by the way, I could find no mention of on their website www.cbs3.com -- doesn't mention texting at all. Savini's story states:

"Spectacular Midways isn't the only amusement ride company with workers under the microscope.

In Pennsylvania, Maxine Holmes got scared when she started to slip outof a ride called the Wipe Out. She managed to strap herself in, but theordeal led to a CBS investigation by our sister station inPhiladelphia."

There is no mention when this episode happened, whether texting was involved, or how the stories are connected. The only common thread seems to be things that happened at carnivals that were reported by CBS affiliates. The reporter is trying to indicate a trend where there is none.

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