The title is from a song called Giraffe by a band called Miniature Tigers. Very clever if you ask me.
So I guess sometimes when people have a blog, they do things like update it regularly. Obviously, I am not one of those people. Maybe I need to feed my blog Activia so it can become more regular, but that just sounds like a sticky mess all around. So I probably won't do that. Sorry if anyone was looking forward to that. With all that being said, I don't feel like anyone was really missing my blog since I don't really have a theme for my posts and most of them are way too long to be entirely read. Anyways, let's get on with this.
I currently do and for the next 8 months will live in a state called California and work for a company called Walt Disney at a park called Disneyland. You may have heard some of these names. It seems like whenever I mention any of these details to people back home they usually say one of two things.
1 - "Wow! You're so brave. 8 months is a long time. Are you gonna be Mickey Mouse or something?"
2 - "So can you get me a discount? Hahaha just kidding...but kind of not kidding."
Which i'm fine with. If I had a friend or family member who worked at Disneyland, i'd probably try and get some benefits out of them too. I understand. Here's the only problem. I'm not Mickey Mouse. And half the people who want me to get them in for free, probably had no intentions of acknowledging my existence once I passed the state line until they knew there could be something in it for them.
I'm a custodian. I sweep the grounds, pick up trash, take out trash, clean up vomit and other messes, and many many things that are far less glamorous than being Mickey Mouse. And at first, I was not too excited about this. I didn't even get a cool themed costume like the space-looking outfits for folks in Tomorrowland, or the Indiana Jones-like outfits for Adventureland. I got a white shirt, white pants, a crimson belt and pouch, and all black shoes. I look like a marshmallow. And for the first day, I was almost ashamed or embarrassed. I thought, "No one would ever want this job. I don't even get paid that much, I have to work weekends, and the shifts are at crazy times of the night half the time." And don't even get me started on how much my feet hurt at the end of the 8 hour shifts of constant walking or standing. I was thinking that it would be a looooooooong 8 months. But then one little thing happened.
One of the days of on-the-job training, we were sent out to Main Street to do "guest interaction", basically just make someone's day a little better by taking a picture for them so the whole family could be in the shot, give a little kid a sticker, go pin trading, help someone find directions or give them a map, etc... Just go be a helpful resource, ya know? So we go out, and it was my first time in costume, with my name tag, out in the park. It was kind of one of those surreal moments. It was neat. So I pin traded with a couple people, took a bunch of pictures for people in front of the Castle, picked up some napkins that had blown away from some folks. It wasn't miserable, but I didn't think it was all that magical either. Until one I spotted one little girl.
At the time, there were a lot of people sitting and waiting for the parade to start. It was toward the end of the day, and a lot of kids were tired and sleeping on their dad's lap or in the stroller. Well, one specific little girl wearing a yellow dress just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast caught my eye. I hadn't given out any stickers yet, so I figured this was a good time to do it. As I was walking over, I noticed that her head was kind of in her hands, bowed down a little. I couldn't tell if she was tired or crying or what, but I had already started walking over there and I didn't want to be weird, so I just kept going. I knelt down on the street to get down to her eye level, and just started talking to her. I told her that her Belle dress looked great and asked if she was excited to see Belle in the parade, and when she looked up, I thought my heart was going to melt right out of my chest. This girl had the biggest alligator tears running down her cheeks. It was heartbreaking. But she looked up and she nodded and said Belle was her favorite. So I kept talking to her and she kept nodding while the tears were just streaming down her cheeks. Finally, I asked if maybe a sticker would help the wait for the parade go by a little bit faster. And i'll tell you what folks, in that moment, I understood why people are willing to go through all the sweeping and garbage and messes and marshmallow looking outfits. I have never seen someone's face light up so fast as when I told that little girl she could have a sticker. Just one little sticker turned her whole situation around. She was smiling instead of crying, laughing at my dumb joke about Goofy being goofy, and most importantly, I could see her parents smiling out of the corner of my eye.
That's the magic of Disney, folks. It's not in an overpriced corn dog or a hundred princess themed movies. It's seeing a little kid smile, and seeing how happy it makes the parents to see their kids smile. Maybe i'm still just a rookie and the magic will disappear after a few more months of Code V's and aching feet. But in that moment of giving that little girl one simple sticker, it sure didn't feel to me like it would be wearing off any time soon. And to me, that's even better than being Mickey Mouse because I got to talk to them and show interest and truly interact. Plus I hear those character costumes weigh a ton and are super hot.
So, next time you hear of someone who works for Disney, instead of asking if they are Mickey Mouse or if they can get you in free, ask them when they saw the magic. I bet you'll get a kick out of watching their faces light up too :)
"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing. That it was all started by a mouse." - Walt Disney