Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Happiest Thoughts in the Mall

For research purposes, really, I tried watching Hannah Montana the other night. Not only did I feel sort of creepy, the show wasn't really that funny. I know, I know, I shouldn't be expecting Emmy worthy acting, but still, Billy Ray Cyrus is a pretty terrible actor. How he made all those years of "Doc" on PaxTV (now ION) is beyond me.

Miley Cyrus... I can't look at her without thinking Courtney, one of my WalkAbout alumni. She and Miley look much alike, though truly, Courtney is and will be much prettier. And with her mom, Paula, I don't expect many Vanity Fair cover shoots in Courtney's future.

If your a 15 year old boy, what do you do? One is richer. One is prettier. The answer? You do nothing because, alas, both are out of your league.

Also watched The Wizards of Waverly Place. Thought it was rather funny, actually. The whole concept is that there are this family of Hispanic kids who are also wizards, and they are in training to take some life test (which I can only assume will be in the final episodes of the series). Now, while the show is also poorly acted, it was still rather clever.

Watched the cartoon Phineaus & Ferb... now this show is hilarious. Two step brothers who go one impossibly ridiculous missions (Hey Ferb, they closed the mini-golf course! Let's just build our own! I'll get the crane), their sister Candice, who's life mission it is to get them in trouble, and Perry the Platypus, who is not only Phineaus & Ferb's pet, he's also a secret agent--Agent P. Ridiculous, but its quite clever. It might be worth the whole episode just to hear Ferb speak.

Weirdest feeling, ever... walking through the mall, towards the food court, and glancing over to see one of your middle school students in Victoria's Secret. I shuddered. I threw up in my mouth. I ducked the Dateline crew, headed towards Libby Lu, and went to lunch.

Let me answer the question that is on everyone's... okay, well not everyone's, but many people's minds. Okay, maybe not many people, but a few have asked...

"How are things at The Happiest Place in the Mall???"

And my answer typically is... "Magical."

The truth is, it has been magical. Its been wonderful. Its been so great to not wake up three or four times per week at 4am, or get home at almost 11pm. Its been great watching the kids play, or trying out the new Wall-E foam rocket launcher, or tossing the Power Rangers soccer ball around with another Cast Member, or even doing stock in the back, which is like Christmas sometimes.

The challenge is, that The Happiest Place in the Mall recieves anywhere from 40 to 100 packages of shipment... per day. Per day. And our backroom is not very big. So many a'day I am out there, sweat pouring off my face, box cutter in my hand, cardboard stacked around me, opening up Mickey Lunchtotes, or Cinderella backpacks, or Dalmation snowglobe tumblers, or whatever. So, the organizational skills come in handy.

There is alot to learn, though. The cash register is not as up to date as I'm used to, with Starbucks's systems. So, doing a refund is alot of work sometimes, but I'm getting it. The Cast Members are great--I've taking a liking to Audrey, whom I've enjoyed picking on (those of you who know me know if you get picked at, that means I genuinely like you) and our managers have been very welcoming and helpful and gracious. Another I've taken a liking to is Crystal, whom I've worked with several times, is great on the floor as well.

There are several I haven't worked with, or worked with much to get an impression of, but I'm usually pretty good at reading people. I tossed a beachball at one girl, not aggressively, not mean, just fluttered it up playfully. She swung wildly and tried to duck and looked affronted. I could see I had to be on eggshells around her.

Of course, there's Stephanie... not The Lovely Steph Leann, mind you, but another Stephanie, that I really need to come up with a nickname for, if she's going to make the blog on a regular basis. I thought of "My Friend Stephanie", only I had a feeling that most people wouldn't remember that as the name of a Christian rock band from about 14 years ago. I'll come up with something. Anyway, she's just a... well, a really cool chick.

The other day I was back at Plush Mountain, the big pile of stuffed characters--which sits on a shelf, mind you, so don't let any child just run and jump it, because they could hurt themselves--and I was straightening a rack... this cute little girl, maybe three or four, comes running up. She stops, suddenly, and stares, open mouthed at what must seem like a fifty foot high mountain of Mickey, Minnie, Nemo and all her favorites. She then yells, "MOMMY!!! I'VE HIT THE JACKPOT!!" It was precious.

I frequently see friends of mine come into The Happiest Place In The Mall. Jeremy Jones, and his wife Chrystal, came in last week. Got to say hello to them, and their two little girls. Not too long after that, here comes Vaughn Barron, and his wife Currie, and their kids. A day or so later, I see Jaime Echols... all friends of mine from college. A few days ago, I get a message from Tiffany Abbott McCauley, saying she's swinging through The Ham, and wanted to stop in and say hello. So she did, she did, and it was awesome.

This is Tiffany and me, after 12 years of not seeing each other. She hasn't really changed much since Troy. By the way, you can see another version of this pic, with a better pic of me, in my Facebook "Me and..." album. Now, if I could just get The Angel to come visit.

Perhaps its just the "honeymoon" period, because I did have that at my last Starbucks store. Leaving there was difficult, but I think it was the right time. I'm working now, part time, at Starbucks in Homewood, the SoHo area (stands for So Homewood). Its a beautiful store, and its a shame its closing too. I was there last Tuesday night, and at that point, had gone about 13 days without making a single drink--the longest such drought since I started in 2003.

I stood there, behind the counter, steamed milk pitcher in one hand, making a latte, and it felt... strange. This wasn't Vestavia, this wasn't 280, this wasn't Cahaba, this wasn't 20th Street... this was a different store, but not only that, this was a different role. I'm not manager, I'm not assistant manager and I'm trying not to be either. I'm just a simple barista making a simple drink. And it was so freeing. I was just able to make drinks and not worry about anything else.

Where was I? Yes, The Happiest Place in the Mall. Did you know that Christopher Robin has been replaced? I'm rather torn by this, because while I was never a CR fan, he's been there a long, long time. My guess is, he grew up and left 100 Acre Wood, because they have this chick named Darby there now. I haven't gotten used to Darby yet. I'm currently watching her and the Pooh crew in "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", and the animation is weird. Its not 2D animation, and its sort of CGI... like, cheap CGI, I think.

I've got a button on my Facebook page with Pooh on it. He's dressed all gangsta, and the caption says, "Tigga, Please". Its hilarious.

Saturday night was my 33rd Birthday Extravaganza, and you can tell you are getting older when the party is over around 930 or 10. Lil' Sister Ashley stayed until about 1030, watching the Olympics with The Lovely Steph Leann and myself, then left. We were just getting up to go to bed, around 1105, when I flipped the channel to The Happiest Channel on Cable, and Camp Rock was on.

I've been meaning to watch Camp Rock for a week or so now, having it on DVR, because we're currently pre-selling the DVD.... only 19.95, and you get the Jonas Brothers folder set that you can't buy in stores, plus a 15% off coupon you can use... but we kept it on. And maybe it was because we were tired, maybe it was because The Lovely Steph Leann took a liking to Joe Jonas, maybe it was because I took a creepy glance at Meaghan Jette Martin... for whatever reason, we stayed up to watch the whole thing.

And its rather fun. There weren't as many songs as I thought, and most of them fit into the movie (rather that just randomly bursting out in song, like we do in real life). Some of the songs i knew already, having heard them about 13,000 times in The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Well, its time to go get ready to make smiles!

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