I’m sure most people believe a theme park is one of the safest places on earth, but it’s the only place I’ve ever been mugged. I realize that sounds absurd, but it’s true. (And I’ve been to New York!)
Years ago, as a sixteen-year-old girl, I visited a famed park for the first time. Awed by the advancements and amusements, I was having one of the greatest days of my life. Wandering around with my family, I entered a gift shop and bought a reversible cap that was white on one side and decorated in theme park paraphernalia on the other.
Happy with my purchase, I decided to wear it, and I’d just stepped out of the store when I felt a large hand on my head. My new hat was whisked away in an instant, and I glanced up to behold a strange-looking character–a mule over six feet tall–running away with my cap! All I could do was watch it vanish into the crowd.
Since I was still outside the gift shop, I marched right back in and told the clerk, “One of your mascots stole the hat I just bought!” She smiled good-naturedly, as if this happened occasionally. Believing my story, she handed me another hat and I started outside, wary of anyone else who might want to snatch my souvenir.
I’m happy to report that I had no more trouble with muggers during that trip, but I’ve often thought about the incident, wondering what the mascot’s motivation was. As I remember that mule-like character disappearing into the throng of people, I wonder if he wanted to create a scene: A theme park mascot being chased by a teenaged girl.
If that was his goal, it failed. For one thing, the mule was swallowed by the crowd far too quickly for anyone to chase him. Also, I refused to be further degraded by running after a mascot with a good portion of the park watching. And what would I have done if I’d caught up with him? He was at least half a foot taller than I was.
All these years later, I still have that second cap, which evokes many memories, including the theft of my newly-bought souvenir.