Will the Real Thomas J. Smrt please stand up!

Thomas J. Smrt created Shireland because he felt that the "high speed, gravity-defying rides" of Great America were not what impressionable children needed.  He felt that "Some children today aren't allowed to enjoy their childhood without violence, drugs and other 'dragons' infringing on their dreams". To counteract that, he created a show called : "Of Dragons and Dreams", which was designed to deliver a positive message to kids.  He sounds like the next Mr. Rogers, doesn't he?  

Some people knew a very different Thomas Smrt.  The pages ahead chronicle a few of them.  Let's start with my own:

Thomas Smrt, owner of Fox Valley Systems


My first contact with Thomas Smrt happened after I answered an ad that he placed in the newspaper for a video editor.  It was a blind ad, so I has no idea that the creator of Shireland was on the other end.  Weeks went by and I didn't hear anything, so I forgot about it.  On a Saturday morning my phone rang at 7:30 AM, a time I am not used to frequenting.  It was Thomas Smrt.

In our brief phone conversation, he drilled me with rapid-fire precision  about my background as a video editor.  Even through he owned very sophisticated  video editing equipment, it was obvious that he knew nothing about it.  I assumed that he probably had someone advise him about what to buy then subsequently left the company.  If that happened, it would make sense that he would have no idea about the equipment that he owned and would hire someone who did to operate it.  That was not unusual; the unusual part was to come:

I asked him about the job he had available.  He said that he "...had no job available".  I thought that was odd for someone to put an ad in the paper who did not have a job available.  He told me that he looks for good people and then creates jobs around them.  That struck me as odd, but somewhat acceptable.  He felt obliged to tell me that he never got past the 4th grade, but he was a millionaire several times over.  He told me he owned a paint spraying company, a horse farm and was the creator of Shireland, the amusement park (Italics added).  He said that even through he handled huge business transactions, he didn't even have business cards.  

He went on to tell  me that "most people who come out of school are Dumb Sh*ts"!  That was O.K. , according to him, because he was a self proclaimed "... Dumb Sh*t, as well".  He said that most people coming out of school can't even "...read or write, because most teachers aren't worth a Sh*t".  He stipulated that this was in sharp contrast to England where students learned how to "... read and write and things..."

To say that I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone was putting it mildly.   I couldn't believe that someone would use such pejorative language to someone he didn't know, who he was considering hiring.  Based on his comments, and the time, I decided I had enough.   I said, "I am going to hang up now, because I am not interested in your position", but before I could get my last word out, he hung up on me.  

Several years later (2006) I would stick my head into the beast's mouth when I talked my way into an interview and an actual position with Thomas Smrt.  Those details are on the next page.  

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