This week on “Undercover Boss,” the boss of a family of amusement parks goes undercover to figure out ways to make them better. As if that were possible. The episode did not conclude with him realizing that offering me lifetime free passes and travel to all of his parks would drastically improve the state of his business.
Herschend Family Entertainment is the largest family-owned theme park company in the country, and their vast network of FUN includes amusement parks, aquariums and… sightseeing tours. One of these things is not like the other… The big boss looks like a big boss, but I feel like his image would benefit from a name change and less mock turtlenecks.
Everyone, meet Joel Manby.
They’ve got 22 properties in nine states and he’s been CEO for eight years. He’s also got a nameplate on his desk that says Joelster, and as attractive as this man is, I think it’s patently obvious that he is a NERD. He’s also from Battle Creek, MI and hails from humble origins. Then they show us a picture of his childhood home, and I realize that he is not fucking kidding.
Apparently he shared a room with his brother, and as I’m about to roll my eyes at how sharing a bedroom does NOT make you poor, he reveals that his parents lived in the kitchen. Shit. My bitch is already crawling away from me with the force of an angry two-year-old, and it is waaaaay too early in the episode for that. I mean, at this point, all I’ve got are mock turtlenecks, and the man’s about to change clothes.
Joel explains that one of the things he remembers most about childhood is how very hard his father worked to make a living. He says he thinks it’s one reason why he’s kinda driven to make a good life for his own family. I repeat, he thinks it’s one reason why he’s kinda driven. This is so weird – he’s not self-aggrandizing, and I can’t locate any sort of God complex… I don’t know whether to ruffle his hair or poke him with a stick.
Joel’s somewhat subdued nature probably serves him well at home, where he outnumbered five to one in favor of vaginas. He’s got one wife and four daughters, one of which was a result of an uncharacteristic tequila bender on research trip to Vietnam.
Took everyone a minute to warm up to her, but now she’s just another member of the family. Happy Ending!
Nah, just kiddin’, they adopted her. Seriously, the guy has no skeletons. It’s fucking annoying. Literally, as I write that, Joel says that he loves being with his family, but he wasn’t always such a good father or husband. A whole new group of neurons just sprang awake in my brain all of a sudden! Out of college Joel went into the auto industry and became CEO of Saab America. Or as I like to refer to him, Joel of Darkness. Joel basically worked himself not to death, but to alcoholism, and progressively spent less and less time with his family. That is until his wife, Markie, shook her mafro at him in consternation and told him that he could shape up or ship the fuck out.
Markie – her hair is awesomesauce.
So Joel stopped working in the auto industry (and drinking, I presume), to be CEO of Herschend, something that terrified him, but that he felt called to do. And I think we all know what that means. A fullscreen shot of a sculpture of Jesus washing the feet of one of his disciples (and Joel’s testimony) reveals that the Herschends are a Christian family, and promote their values in the running of their company. Joel is also a Christian, and loves that he can work in a place that is so closely aligned with his beliefs. I crack my knuckles and sit up at this, because Joel and I have just achieved a working relationship.
Because Jesus so loved the roller coasters.
Now I am a certified, card carrying Christ lover, but I can’t jive with companies that use their workplace to proselytize. Except for In-and-Out Burger. Those burgers are so frigging delicious they might actually be made of Jesus, and that company can do whatever the fuck they please. Animal style.
The recession is indiscriminate of race or religion, it seems, as it hit the company hard. They froze wages, and Joel wants to go undercover in part because he wants to get an unfiltered look at how the employees feel about the company now. This speech is interspersed with shots of what appear to be blacksmiths, glassblowers and other inhabitants of Old Tymey type places, in a hilarious attempt to camouflage an amusement park as a Gold Rush ghost town.
Joel bids his family adieu, and in the time it takes him to get from his home to the Mysterious Undercover Boss Lockeroom, grows a full beard. His cover is John Briggs, a new recruit who’s just been laid off from the auto industry. He’s going to give the usual spiel to his coworkers about being followed around by a TV crew for a documentary about trying out entry level jobs at Herschend. I guess those entry level jobs include a lot of slogging through swamps, because more focus than necessary is paid to Joel’s massive industry strength galoshes.
Job 1 – Joel arrives at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, GA and describes it as Atlanta’s “number one attraction.” I think Stone Mountain Park could have been Sparta’s number one attraction or even Macon’s, but considering I’ve been to Atlanta several times, love amusement parks and have never heard of Stone Mountain, I think that particular feather might be just a little too big for your cap, Joelster. Joel’s going to be running the “Ride the Duck” attraction, what looks like a riverboat ride and makes up a whopping 5% of the park’s revenue. Jeez, now I kinda wanna ride the duck. Or maybe just appropriate the name and write a pop song about it.
Joel explains that the “Duck Captain,” makes or breaks the entire experience, and it’s important to Joel to see how they’re performing. Like ducks in water, I would imagine. And that’s not the last of those jokes you’ll read. Captain Charlie hands Joel his uniform and introduces him to the duck – an amphibious machine used in WWII. I might be wrong in this, but I think those are the boats that dropped off the soldiers at Normandy. My knowledge is springing mainly from “Saving Private Ryan,” but if I’m right, I want to ride in one about as much as I’d like to sit in a chair made of thistles. Creepy…
Well, maybe “creepy”‘s too strong a word…
Captain Charlie and his co-Captain Howard are exactly the kind of Supercalafragalistic tour guides you get on rides like this. Their first question upon meeting Joel is not whether he’s certified in any sort of boat-driving or water safety, but if he’s funny. They also do it in such an awesomely intimidating way that Joel is immediately nervous and says he’s got a lot to learn from them. That intimidation might also result from the fact that Captain Charlie and Captain Howard could literally squish Joel’s head like a zit between their thumbs and forefingers. Big ducks, all I’m saying.
Captain Howard shows Joel the cockpit and tells Joel that it’s his place of business. Three things must be accomplished in the PoB, and they are driving the boat, talking to people and playing music for them. It sounds simple, but Joel’s resounding lack of charisma and any sort of outgoing nature might just get in the way here. The tour is not serious and is supposed to be sort of a show for the kids that ride. I’m curious to know if that means that there are no real ducks on the duck tour. Now, I get what the “duck” is, but I still think that’s some false fucking advertising. Not that I’d be first in line to ride a boat to see ducks, but it’s becoming funnier and funnier to me that Joel actually referred to this park as Atlanta’s number one attraction, and this boat tour of nothingness is apparently its biggest moneymaker.
Captain Howard tells Joel to follow his lead and really interact with the kids as much as possible. Captains Charlie and Howard, and Honorary Captain Joel start greeting the kids and parents, putting life jackets on them and collecting tickets. In the five seconds of work I see Charlie and Howard do with the kids, I am transported back to waiting in line at Thunder Canyon at Cedar Point, and being so freaking excited about getting wet and jostled that I almost forgot my potty training. God, I love amusement parks.
Right there with you, Joel.
Joel has the goofiest smile on his face as he watches Charlie and Howard give out quackers to the kids and sternly announce that no one gets on the boat without one. I want one! I want one! We set sail with Captain Howard at the helm and he announces that Joel is his Duck in Training for the day. Okay, so you ride the duck, but the captains are also ducks. Are the kids ducks, too? I’m so confused.
The tour begins with a description of the Stone Mountain, which is actually a real thing, I guess. Joel is tasked with communicating the awesomeness of this giant, random rock, but he totally fails and giggles his way through it. Joel’s caught the fever. Captain Howard takes over and tells us about the mountain’s five mile diameter, and while I couldn’t give a duck’s paddle about these sorts of geological facts, Howard is so good at his job, that I Wikipedia’d that shit immediately. He’s got this genuine fascination with the giant rock that totally engages the tiny people on the ride. Now I’ve babysat before, and let me tell you, that is no easy feat. Ever tried to engage a five-year-old who knows how to use the internet in a rock? Then Howard tells the kids it’s time to go in the water and they TOTALLY LOSE THEIR SHIT. It’s so awesome. In point of fact, the boat basically drives into the water and floats as opposed to sinking and becoming part of a police investigation, which is kind of cool. And Howard does it at top speed, so that helps.
That’s sort of where it ends for me, though, because once the duck’s in the water, it’s basically in the water. And becomes a slow-moving boat. A boat slow enough that Howard let’s a child drive it. All together, I’m sure it’s a nice experience, but surely there are other children’s rides in the park that are more stimulating. Or at least could account for comparable revenue. Bottom line: Captain Howard deserves a pay raise because that 5% is due entirely to him.
Joel is of course totally fucking in love with Howard and appreciates the captain’s rare talent for entertaining children. It has to be said that part of Joel’s compliment is how great Howard’s facial expressions are, and at that moment we get a shot of a face that could be put on a mental institution’s wanted poster.
Satisfied that his ducks are in a row, there is no break time with Howard in which learn about his ten children and wife with cancer, just Joel wondering if any of the other duck captains at the other locations have come to learn from Howard. Joel thinks they could have a lot to learn from each other, and it’s at this point I’m imagining an awesome duck powwow with all the boats parked around Stone Mountain and captains from far and wide hiking to the summit to smoke a peace pipe and think of ways to improve the flock.
Jobs 2 and 3: we fly north to Branson, MO to visit Silver Dollar City. Oh! Can you dip candles there?!!! I love dipping candles – number one favorite Old Tymey Activity. Joel’s going to be working two jobs at this park, which is a flagship park that has been in operation for 50 years. It’s based in the 1880s, and I see the same shots of blacksmiths and people sweeping in Old Tymey garb that they showed when they talked about wage freezes. There are gonna be some tragic break times in this park, I just know it.
Silver Dollar City has the reputation for being one of the friendliest parks in the Herschend family, and that really makes me want to go there less. Normally when an amusement park is described as “friendly” as opposed to “FUN,” it means the rides suck and the people are creepy. Joel wants to figure out why the park has the reputation it has, so he’s going to work the front gate. Skippity-doo. Usually when the jobs are boring on this show, the CEOs screw them up in some fashion that makes them entertaining, but I have a feeling I’m going to be as bored watching this as Joel is going to be bright-eyed with childlike wonder.
Joel meets Deanna, his customer service supervisor, who introduces him to Albert, his partner for the day. Albert is dressed in some sort of cowboy business suit complete with bowtie and is stacking strollers with such gusto that I immediately identify him as someone who “really wants it.” Albert may have just saved this segment. He dresses John in a similar outfit, and honestly, John looks kinda hot. If he weren’t so dreamy with wonderment at everything, he might just be my type. They head to a turnstile, and Albert explains that first impressions on the way into the park are very important, so this job is serious, but also fun.
I appreciate your dedication, Albert, but understand that there is a very small percentage of the population for whom this job is “fun” and not “extra money.”
Joel takes the reins from Albert and starts attempting to let people in the park. I say attempting, because remember that modesty and lack of egotism that so endeared Joel to me for the first five minutes of the show? Those things have the added side effect of making our illustrious CEO a completely forgettable normal person. It’s really sad and kind of funny to watch Joel, his voice barely above that of a stern librarian’s, try to attract people to his empty line. Now this is an amusement park. Where the lack of a line to anything is as rare and precious as the Heart of the Ocean, and he STILL can’t get people’s attention. Joel’s work ethic must superhuman, because he is getting nowhere on his personality.
Albert sees Joel’s difficulty and chooses instead of telling him to speak the fuck up, to reiterate how important it is to interact with the guests and make them feel welcome. According to Albert, if the guests don’t feel welcomed by the ticket takers, they won’t feel welcomed in the park. Maybe not, but really, the turnstiles are just another barrier to get through on the way to FUN, so I’m doubtful that the guests are too bothered when it takes them less time and conversation to gain entry. Of course, if a roller coaster attendant told me to fuck off and slapped me in the face before she allowed me to ride, I still probably wouldn’t care as long as I could still get on that glorious machine. I may be biased.
Albert sticks near Joel and attracts people to the line, as Joel attempts (attempts) to interact with them and take their tickets at the same time. I assume he has trouble because Albert straight up treats him like he’s mentally deficient by telling Joel to match the “name with the name” when checking IDs against season passes. As the two head off to do something else, Joel looks back at the entrance and slowtalks, “Man, that was fun.” Okay, either Joel never got to go to an amusement park when he was a kid (possible) and this is a wonderland of tongue-tying proportions… or Joel is in Wonderland, but took more of a Lewis Carroll route to get there.
Which side of the mushroom, Joel?
Albert likes the job, too, because he loves interacting with people. With that, the two promptly stop interacting with people to return to the stroller closet where Joel and Albert met. It is one of Albert’s number one priorities to keep the stroller bay stocked, and he moves with such speed and speaks with such conviction that I’m wondering if the only reason he and Joel left the entrance job was because Albert’s twitch was kicking in at the thought of too many strollers missing. Dude is concerned. Albert attacks the stroller stock with the speed and efficiency of a marine sniper putting together a rifle. Joel’s eyes glaze over as he watches, and thoughts of Captain Howard fly far from his mind.
Break time! Previous to break time we learned that Albert has been “on park” for six years now and that he’s 20 years old, so Albert has goals, and most likely some pre-packaged adversity to go with it. Hmm, mostly goals. Albert’s a total geek (and balding prematurely – sucks, dude), but that’s just because he’s almost as in love with theme parks as I am, he’s just put his obsession to practical use. He claims to have basically grown up “on park” (AP style says theme park lingo goes in quotes), and that theme parks are his passion. He wants to get into designing attractions and shows Joel a few of his ideas, one of which is a roller coaster that sits on the man-made lake in the park and goes under water. To Albert’s knowledge, there is no roller coaster as of yet that does that. With good reason, I think…
Joel asks if Albert wants to go to design school, and Albert (enter adversity) explains that he comes from a very poor family, so he’s only able to go to school for a short time every semester, and also works 40+ hours a week on top of that. Joel asks Albert what his ideal job would be, and he answers that it’s CEO of Herschend. Joel, fishing deeply for a compliment asks who that is and if Albert likes him. Albert answers correctly on both accounts that that man is Joel Manby and he is an awesome guy. Joel’s heart looks like it is literally going to explode in his chest as all of the qualities he has never possessed along with the desire for a roller coaster building son he never had coalesce in the all-American boy that sits before him.
If Albert were to reveal himself as an atheist right now it would make my life.
The two head back to work and Albert advises Joel that doing well in the park means knowing a lot about the park, and Joel interviews that Albert has indeed acquired said vast knowledge. He also says something about wanting to help Albert in some way, but I’m not really listening, because at this point Joel has taken off his glasses and looks way too much like Rhett Butler for me to think straight.
Day two at Silver Dollar City begins at 3:30am and Joel echoes my own sentiments about getting up that early when he wonders why and how people get up at that hour to do any job. He answers his own question by explaining that Silver Dollar City was ranked the cleanest park in America, and he’s there to see how that is accomplished. As much as I love amusement parks, aside from Disneyland, they are all mostly filthy from the shedding of gum, corn dog sticks, child puke and other attendee excrement that there is no doubt in my mind that 3:30 is not an early enough in time to achieve the level of cleanliness this park obviously has. The only uniform this job requires is those legendary rain boots Joel’s been rocking.
He meets up with Richard, who is a street washer and they climb into the golf carts we all stare at longingly after six hours of walking around in the sun and then face the eight mile trek back to the baking car.
Richard starts off their partnership by telling Joel they’re going to go at top speed this morning to clean the park before its 9:30am open time. The two use what appear to be mini-fire hoses that function as water brooms to clear leaves and trash from the park roads. While there’s no production line in this episode to completely flummox Joel as they have to nearly all of his brethren before him, there is a fire hose that needs to be disconnected while there’s still water flowing. Joel has to kink the incredibly powerful hose with his foot, and then unclasp the junction when Richard relieves the pressure. The foreboding, but jaunty music that accompanies this scene tells my keen sense of observation that someone’s going to get wet, and it’s probably not Joel.
Banjo music ensues as Joel bungles his way through disconnecting and reconnecting the hose, wetting himself and Richard in the process. Richard is as good natured about this as one would expect of a Silver Dollar city employee, and simply asks Joel to stay behind him from then on. Needless to say in the next scene, Richard has reclaimed control of the hose from his protÃ©gÃ©e. Since there’s no break scene in this segment I assume, Joel immediately jumps in with the personal questions. Richard used to work in commercial construction, but wanted a different job where he could be at home with his family at night. He’s got five kids and adopted two, and Joel’s heart goes all aflutter at a kindred spirit.
The sun rises on Silver Dollar City, and the two men are almost finished. Not quite, though, considering we still have time to learn that Richard lost his house two years prior to a flood. The family (five kids strong at that point) had to live in a camper for a bit until they could move into temporary housing. Richard is still apparently returning the house to a livable condition, and Joel is again brought to his knees at the capacity of his employees to endure. Oh, won’t someone do something hateful, please? All this optimism is fucking with my recap chi. Joel is, however, disappointed in Richard for not applying for the employee financial assistance program Herschend offers because it means the company can’t help him. I hope Joel realizes that not a single member of the audience is going to see that as an excuse for him to give Richard a crappy gift.
Job 4 sees us still in Branson, but this time on a showboat named the Branson Belle. It’s 14 years old and attracts hundreds of thousands of people a year. Joel wants to head in and check that the operation is as tightly run as it needs to be, and to see if there are ways to boost attendance. I’d say change the thing to a riverboat casino, but I think we all know how well that’d go over with Father and Mother Herschend. Joel’s going to be a server on the boat and he’ll be training with Jennifer. Joel reveals he’s never been a server, and as the camera pans over the crowd of mostly senior citizens, my heart goes out to him. First time servers should be relegated to serving other servers only, and not the hardest to please restaurant demographic on the planet.
This sight gives my serving feet chills.
Jennifer explains to Joel that their service is based entirely on timing – people need to get in, get served and get to eatin’ before the show starts and the boat leaves. He checks his watch, and when Jennifer finds out that it’s 11:55, she jumps into gear and they go to the back to start slinging chicken or beef. Part of the show has already started and the servers march (literally march to the sound of the audience clapping in time) to drop salads, with the dressing already on. Thankfully (and totally unrealistically), not one of these lovely people has a problem with not getting it on the side. The man upstairs was looking out for you on that one, Joelster.
Entrees are in 15 minutes later, and Joel’s getting really nervous about dropping a tray. I’m getting really nervous he won’t given the toothless nature of this episode.
*SIGH* and they’re on to cheesecakes before you can say Proud Mary, and it becomes clear that the most Joel is going to fuck up in this segment is my mood. He thinks Jennifer has the rare talent for being efficient, but also friendly at the same time. He just loves her and thinks she’s made of hardworking cotton candy. Joel is the CEO equivalent of a pit bull who thinks he’s a kitten. You’ve met them – they’re cute, but in this really off-putting way. Since he’s dressed and acting like a server for the moment, however, all the ladies on the boat love him, slip him quarters and ones so he can by himself something pretty.
Jennifer and Joel go on break, and true to form, this is when Jennifer’s phone rings and we learn she has two kids, one of whom is sick. She’s divorced and really frustrated because not only is it difficult to make ends meet under normal circumstances, with the recession, the boat isn’t filling up like it used to, and servers are sent home if there’s no one in their section. So not only does Jennifer have to work on a showboat for a living, something I imagine gets old in roughly 4.5 seconds flat, it still doesn’t pay her childcare bills and she’s stressed to high heaven. Joel correctly deduces that there should be some kind of childcare assistance program in place and gets the hell out of Dodge. Seriously, his exit is really abrupt. Guess folding napkins and pouring coffee wasn’t as stimulating to Joel as scanning season passes.
Your tragedy was found wanting, Jennifer, and Joel’s already got a few daughters.
Job 5 – Joel is off to Camden, New Jersey to visit one of Herschend’s newly acquired aquariums. Yay! Aquarium! These places are so fucking hypnotic they make me revert back to the years when my main goal in life was figuring out how to become a mermaid. Since the aquariums are new acquisitions, Joel wants to see how they work and get to know the employees better. He meets Melissa who barely lets him get through saying “Hi,” before she speechifies that it’s a busy day so she hopes he’s ready to jump on in! Melissa spends 90% of her time talking down to children and she has straight up lost the ability to speak in any other fashion. So has Mercedes, Joel’s partner for the day.
Who’s excited to see the fish?! I caaaan’t heeear yoooou!
They do indeed jump right in, and Mercedes tells Joel they need to let the kids know as they come up that they can touch whatever they like, but they cannot poke or pull anything. I wonder how many starfish have died before Mercedes couldn’t enforce that rule in time. As skeevy as it sounds, the touch tank is really brilliant idea. All you want to do in a place that is filled with cool shit behind thick glass is jump in and touch the shit out of it. I want to go to an aquarium right now.
Joel fails miserably at conveying the limited marine knowledge it takes to answer questions like, “Is the sea cucumber asleep?” and Mercedes gets a little visibly annoyed. Not enough to be any fun, though, just enough to move him to cleaning tanks. Joel asks roughly 18 questions before she shuts him down and tells him to hurry up. They clean several tank surfaces and Mercedes is a frigging taskmaster. When Joel tries the galumphy bumbling new guy routine that worked so well with Richard, Albert and all the little old ladies on the showboat, Mercedes listens not a wit before drill sergeanting that he needs to take pride in what he does and she wants to hear no excuses. She proceeds to kick his ass up and down the causeway until Joel accepts defeat and interviews that she is definitely better at wiping things than he is. He is, of course, inspired by the fact that she takes so much pride in her work, as opposed to questioning the management technique of cutting people off every time they try to explain themselves.
They’re still wiping when we learn that Mercedes is an aquarium renaissance woman, taking part in accounting, events, clean up and the touch tank. This is all fairly impressive considering she’s been there less than two years. As Joel once again picks his jaw up off the floor at what a hard worker he’s been lucky enough to hire, Mercedes reveals that she was homeless before she was hired at the aquarium. She’s so thankful to have the job that she says “yes” to anything they ask of her and is totally committed to the job, keeping the faith that the pay will come later as she continues to prove herself.
Jaw’s on the floor again, Joel.
It’s over for Joel at this point as he is totally overwhelmed at yet another person who has kicked the odds square in the nads and overcome everything that has been thrown at them. He breaks down, interviewing that he just wants to help, but hates that he can’t do it for everyone. Duh. No one can do it for everyone, Joel. Stop crying and do it for someone. Luckily, back at the motel, he interviews that he is now even more committed to his leadership now that he has some appreciation for what people on the front lines (of the amusement park war against the recession?) have to go through. I’m fucking overwhelmed, too, considering I still have 20 minutes of sunshine and lollipops to snark about. Is there a blind unicorn you want to introduce me to, CBS?
Joel returns to his homestead and fashion sense (boo) to relay his experiences to his team, and for the first time I realize there was no scripted-as-shit boardroom scene to wade through at the beginning of the episode. It’s the little things… Item one: too few of the employees who need it are taking advantage of the financial assistance program. One of the executives wonders if they just don’t know about it, and Joel correctly shoots her down by explaining the obvious fact that many people are too proud to do so. I assume that Richard is one of those people and would rather swallow nails than take a handout. Joel tells the team the program needs to be marketed better in order for it to be more effective. Item two: Joel’d like to focus more on assisting single parents who need childcare support, and to that end… he tells his team to go back to their properties and really pay attention to those workers in said situation. He ends that rousing and inspiring call to battle with the fact that he “sure would like to see concrete results.” Joel? If any boss of mine told me he “sure would like” something, that request would fall somewhere between using a bathroom and smoking a cigarette on my grand list of priorities. This is a Christian company! Christians are supposed to be EXCITED to be Christlike. Let’s see some tongues of fire under those asses!
Way to crack the whip, Joel.
Joel finishes the meeting by quietly thanking everyone for listening and slinking out of the room amidst equally introverted grunts in response. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure excited to get out there and do the Lord’s work.
Revelation time! Maybe this’ll be interesting! Howard, Albert, Jennifer, Mercedes and Richard all await what I’m sure they think is some sort of impending doom (Mercedes must be scared out of her MIND). Joel walks in looking considerably less rustic and hot than he did while he was shooting, but Howard, Albert and Mercedes all recognize him immediately. He reveals himself as the CEO, and Richard does the most hilarious blink on the uptake I’ve ever seen. You can literally see the knowledge hit him in the face. It’s awesome.
You may have had to be there.
Because Joel’s heart is really too, too big for him to function properly, he actually spends several minutes apologizing for lying to his employees and even goes so far as to explain the INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS reasons he had for doing so. Readers, I have a clear understanding of your level of intelligence, so I’m going to refrain from explaining said reasons here.
Howard’s first in the line to receive a benediction and Joel tells him that he’d never seen somebody transform themselves like Howard did for the children. Clearly Joel has also never seen a clown. He’d like to have Howard to go the other Ride the Duck locations to instill in those captains some of the magic he lives and breathes every single day. Personally, I think that kind of charisma, comedic timing and way with children is pretty unteachable, but more power to you, Howard. If anyone can do it, you can.
Jennifer’s up next and Joel was really impressed with her work ethic. He tells her she really put a face on what it means to be a single parent, and he’s decided to expand the financial assistance program to include childcare. Can’t really make fun of this, since the publicly traded, billion dollar corporation my mother worked at for most of my childhood would pay for pet kenneling but not childcare, and that is some bitch-ass shit. Jennifer says that childcare is the one things she struggles most with, so to not have to worry about that is amazing.
Richard is a “really special man” according to Joel, and at this point I’m throwing up in my mouth. It’s too fucking much, CBS! I’m going into sugar shock, and there are still two and a half people to go. Whatever, Richard’s awesome so he’s getting $10,000 to redo his house, and the “citizens” of Silver Dollar City are going to take a communal day off to go and help him with any of the repairs still necessary. I have to be honest, if a company froze my wages and then told me I could have a paid day off… to go work on someone else’s house, I’d have a liiiiittle bit of a hard time being Christian about that. Richard is incredibly humble and amazing as he accepts this gift.
Mercedes’ work ethic has finally paid off, and she doesn’t have to keep the faith that the money will follow anymore – because Joel is giving her an immediate raise! Joel is obviously terrified that Mercedes is going to be homeless again in like, five minutes, so he drops the raise on her with some serious speed. She breaks down immediately, and it’s touching, but all I can stare at is the awesome electric blue nail polish she is rocking.
Joel gives her tissues and sits creepily close to her as he tells her that he’s going to have employees come to her apartment and inventory everything she still needs to make it a home, then provide it for her. Ok, THAT is fucking SWEET. Mercedes, run home and get rid of EVERYTHING in your apartment you possibly can, then take your ass shopping for a new flat-screen.
If Joel’s personality didn’t indicate that his head would explode at the very idea of inappropriate behavior with his staff, I’d be totally skeeved out right now.
And last but not least, Albert. Plucky, plucky Albert. He’s inspired Joel to start a scholarship of which he will be the first recipient. It will enable him to achieve an American dream of mine, which is to get paid a 40-hour per week salary for simply going to school. Albert cannot keep his shit together in the slightest (neither would I) and gets alarmingly red as he tries. Obviously now expecting sobbing as part of these meetings, Joel’s still in sidecar position next to Albert and his facials are still creeping me out.
He’s all winky in this one.
Joel does the usual end of episode speechifying, and it’s neither long nor entertaining, so I’m thankful when we get to the title cards. Not for long, though, because they, like the rest of this treacly fucking episode, are boring and completely predictable. Herschend did everything they said they would for each employee, and the only new development is that Albert attended his first amusement park convention recently.
I’m glad it’s over, too!!
This episode’s level of FUN as compared to that of an actual amusement park was non-existent. However, next week’s episode featuring Roto Rooter at least has potential for some good shit jokes, so I put down the remote optimistic.