About Me

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I am an attorney practicing in Hartford, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't Forget: What We Do Matters ... A Lot.

Greeting everyone!  As you can see by my last post, its been a while since I've updated The Legal Roller Coaster.  My apologies to those who have noticed.  My last piece was posted February 8, and was written while I was on a plane to Portland, Oregon to try a very large case in Oregon State Court.  I returned to my home, my job, and my life about two and a half weeks ago.  Over the last two months or so, I have worked harder than I ever have before on a long and exhausting trial, didn't see my wife or kids for almost seven  weeks, flew to Phoenix to say my final farewell to my grandmother who had been sick for years and finally just couldn't go on any longer, and, just a few weeks later, went to DC to bury one of my best friends from law school who passed away incredibly suddenly at the age of only 35, leaving behind her husband and three children.  I also took some time to attend the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Annual Meeting and present a short seminar to those fine folks.  That's a lot to take on in the span of two months - particularly in the middle of a multi-million dollar trial.  And all of that, particularly the death of my friend, got me thinking hard about what I do, what I like to do, and why I am doing it.  So, for my first post back after a couple of months, I've decided to go in a somewhat uncharacteristic non-legal direction (and don't worry - this is probably a one-shot thing since I've got a lot of other things to talk about soon), and talk a little bit about why our industry is so important and why the work that we do really does matter to people.


I'm a "white hat" kind of guy.  I like to know that the work that I do is honorable and meaningful and the clients that I represent are trying hard to do the right thing - even if things go sideways from time to time.  That's a big reason why I've stuck around the amusement industry for so long.  I know, without a doubt, that the vast majority of people in this industry are not in it because they are making millions (no question that most don't) or because it is "easy" work (no question that it isn't), but because they truly enjoy the work they do and see that it actually means something to people - which in turn makes it mean something to them.  We create and sell fun, but more importantly, we create and sell memories - and that is something far more valuable and meaningful to most people than a widget that comes off an assembly line, who the president of the United States is (or will be), or just about any other non-essential facet of modern life.  

When I was at my friend's funeral a couple of weeks ago, I kept coming back to her kids and wondered what they would remember about their mom.  Would they remember how smart she was? How meticulous she was to every little detail in her life, both personally and professionally?  How she studied her butt off after having her first child during our first year and finished law school pregnant with her second?  Or would they remember the fun times they had together?  Would they think back to days at the playground with the family?  A big trip to Disney World or a day-trip to Six Flags America?  Visiting a local carnival and eating cotton candy?  Going on vacation and playing mini-golf or hanging out at the beach or by the pool?  Maybe just swinging on a swingset in the backyard?  My own opinion is that these are the things that they will remember.  Her kids are not going to give one hoot about her study habits during law school or her legal prowess.  What they will remember, I think, is all the fun times and all the family times that they shared together.  That is what sticks after all the rest is gone.

And that is exactly why what we do matters and why it is so important not to forget it - regardless of how crazy and stressful the work gets.  There may well be bigger businesses out there that may mean more to the economy or to world-wide political issues, but the amusement industry makes a contribution to society very few other industries make.  It provides memories that last long after banks are bought and sold and widgets have served their useful lives.  Our "product" is not rides or shows or food or games or merchandise - its fun and memories that last a lot longer than the things at our facilities.  It is a product that truly is priceless, and therefore justifies the prices we charge.  It is a product that separates our industry from most others and it is the reason that I know that this industry matters.  It is why I do what I do and why I truly like doing it.

Well, I've said what I wanted to say.  Hopefully, I didn't tell any of you anything you didn't already know, but since the summer season is just about to kick off at full steam (and given the last couple of months of my life), this was something I thought needed to be said.  But that's it for the philosophizing - I'm working on a waterpark piece to kick off the summer season and hope to have that for you soon.  Until then ... sorry about the long absence and here's to a great season.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Erik! For sure, this is a "I'm in it because I love it" type of industry, which also leads to lifelong friends and relationships. It really is a special industry - thanks for the philosophizing!

    ReplyDelete

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