June 26, 2009

The Coney Island Cyclone - Let's Make a Metaphor!

The Coney Island Cyclone opened June 26, 1927, and New York City businessmen wearing suits and carrying briefcases lined up immediately. The businessmen paid their 25 cents and climbed aboard, unfolded their newspapers, lit their tobacco, and crossed their legs, checking their pocketwatches frequently to make sure they weren't running late for another busy day at the markets. The cars left the station, climbing a steep grade. Several men folded their newspapers to the next page, noticing the view as they did so and commenting on how absolutely marvelous it was. Then the car peaked, and swooped downhill. The businessmen did their best to hold the newspapers in place, smoke their pipes, and hold discussions on how marvelous everything was going as the cars made tight turns, shot up and swooped down and finally coasted back into the station, where the brakes slowed the coaster and brought it to a stop.

The businessmen folded up their papers and tucked them under their arms as they climbed out, disoriented by the ride, but more notably confused that the coaster had unmistakably brought them back to the same station they took off from. "Why, this isn't my stop!" declared one man, which brought the matter to the full attention of all the other men. "Perhaps we need to find one going the other direction!" said another man, and they all followed him to the Thunderbolt. Again, they climbed aboard, lit their tobacco and unfolded their newspapers, crossed their legs as the cars left the station, only to find themselves in the same place as they had left. "Wrong direction, wrong direction!" yelled the businessmen, and they hustled back to the Cyclone, checking their watches and tucking their newspapers under their arms.

They went back and forth like this for quite a while, until finally, on October 29, 1929, the Stock Market crashed and the businessmen lost their jobs. And that was the start of the Great Depression. Coincidence? I don't think so.

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