We don't have animal bracelets. Barbie dolls, The Grinch, Alvin & the Chipmunks, the Happy Feet penguins, anything Madagascar, anything Shrek, the Tale of Despereaux, Snoopy and the like are not Disney properties, and I really don't know where you can find the Pink Panther on a comforter. Sorry. Love to help you but I cannot, other than to offer you the usual places like Target and Wal-Mart, and perhaps Toys R Us.
"Aladdin", "Alice in Wonderland", "The Lion King", "Lady and the Tramp" and "Cinderella" are all in The Vault. It's quite alright to ask, and perfectly acceptable for you to not know this--thats why I'm here--but I didn't come up with the idea of The Vault, nor do I have any control of release dates, so please don't get angry with me when we don't have copies of those movies. Furthermore, you had a small window of only 2 years to get "The Little Mermaid" and "Peter Pan" before they went back into The Vault in January of 2009. "My child didn't want to watch it when it was out, but they want to watch it now!" isn't a good excuse for not getting it when it was available. Try again in 2017 when they come back out.
And when I offer you "Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs", or the three movies that ARE going into The Vault in January 2010, "The Jungle Book", "101 Dalmatians" and "Sleeping Beauty", please pick them up either here or somewhere, because perhaps your child won't want to watch them now, but when they do in 2013, you'll come find me and fuss at me for not having them. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
(ps... "Beauty and the Beast" will be out next October and "Toy Story 1 & 2" will be out in March, so be on the look out--and don't miss 'em!)
Without further ado, a special Christmas edition of Happy Times.
Made a special needs child dry at The Happiest Place in the Mall. Oh, come on, don’t fuss at me yet… hear me out.
Throwing plush animals is kinda like an Olympic Sport at The Happiest Place in the Mall. Kids feel the need to pick up something from the bottom, look at it, and rather than place it, even just drop it where they picked it up, they just toss it in the air towards the top. The bottom row of Plush Mountain looks empty and shallow, with some Mickeys, Patches, Pennys and Squirts just smushed on the bottom, while a cornucopia of The Happiest Characters in the Movies are piled high on top.
So, I walked up on three kids, and one set of parents, tossing animals. Two boys over the side I recognized as kids I’d already asked to stop. My instinctive response is simply, “Please don’t throw the animals… thank you!” You know, its polite, but firm, yet smiley, but slightly forceful. The two boys tossed Nemo and Stitch high into the air, while the little girl—and this part is important—had her back to me. She tossed a Daisy Duck high into the air. So, instinctively, I say, “Please don’t throw the animals… thank you!”
The little boys took off. The little girl, maybe five or six, turned to face me, and when she did, I immediately thought, “Aw, crap.” Sometimes you can tell when a child is dealing with retardation, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can tell when a child is autistic, sometimes you can’t. However, if a child has Down Syndrome, more often than not, you can tell. And this little girl had Downs. She turned to me, looked up and me, and looked back at mom and dad. I heard mom whisper to dad, “He didn’t tell those other boys to stop.”
The little girl looked back at me, then leaned over, laid her face into the pile of Mickeys and began to cry. Silently sighing, I sweetly said, “Oh, sweetie, its okay… you didn’t do anything wrong…” Dad leaned over and said, “C’mon baby. Let’s go next door [Build-a-Bear]”. Ah, Holiday Happy Times.
Speaking of the Plush Mountain, I passed by a guest mom with her guest child, both kneeling by the mountain. As I walked by, I heard the mom saying to the child, "You DO NOT throw these animals. These people work really hard to keep the Happiest Place in the Mall clean and organized, and its very, very rude to come in here and start throwing things around, especially things that aren't yours. Now, you put Pluto back where you found him and DO NOT throw him."
I wanted to stop, turn around, give the mom a hug and offer her a deep discount on anything and everything.
Because we get shipment every day, I spend many hours going back and forth from the stage to the “back dock”, which is essentially the big sidewalk in front of the South Parking Deck. There’s a large green… something or other. It looks like a big heat radiator, but I that’s not what it is. It’s not electrical, or at least not on the surface (which is good for what I’m about to tell you).
I was onstage, helping some guests and making some magic, and had a moment to go grab some stuff from the shipment. Both Chip and Dale are coming in later to work on shipment, so I wanted to get as many boxes emptied as I could to help out, so I walk out and see an older gentleman… and he’s facing the Big Green Thing… and I see him a second later turn to his right and walk toward the mall entrance… and I see him, from behind, look as if he’s… well, zipping up… and the spot that he stood seconds before, a puddle… of something… dripping off of the Big Green Thing… and mind you, this is about 3:45 in the afternoon.
I stood, perplexed, as my brain battled my eyes, my brain telling my eyes, “You didn’t just see that,” and my eyes retorting, “Heck yes, I just saw that…” The Magical Manager came out. “I need you to… what’s wrong?” she asked, seeing the bewildered look on her face. I told her what I finally determined to be what I thought I saw, and she had the same repulsed, yet somewhat bewildered look on her face. “Are you serious?” I nodded yes, pointing to the drip drip drip off of the Big Green Thing.
“Well, I live out in the country, and my sons think its okay to do that anywhere,” the Magical Manager laughs. I respond, “Yeah, but your boys are 8. This guys was like, 58.” Then, with a laugh, I said, “Well, I could give him the benefit of the doubt… maybe he just chose to pour out his Mountain Dew right there, with his back turned towards the door.” Ah, holiday Happy Times.
“It’s a Magical Day at the Disney Store, and my name is d$, can I help you?”
**“Yeah… I uh… I know you probably don’t have any… any of this stuff at all, but I wanted to call and ask anyway…”
“What are ya looking for, ma’am?”
**“So, you do have Princess & and the Frog stuff there at your store?”
(pausing, trying to determine which part of “Well, we’ve got dolls… figure sets… shirts, both adult and kids… plush animals, big and small… Mardi Gras instrument sets… kids cooking sets… pajamas… nightgowns… books… sticker books… headbands… collectors jewelry boxes, snow globes and book ends… tote bags…” can be misconstrued as “I’m giving you an ambiguous answer”)
Reason #2,933,003 why I don’t gamble. Snow White, one of my fellow Cast Members, is a big Alabama fan. I, as you may know, root for the Gators of the University of Florida. So when Alabama played Florida about a week or so ago, Snow White and I had a friendly wager. Florida wins, she buys my lunch. Alabama wins, I buy her lunch.
And having to watch Snow chow down on the McDonald’s meal she requested the very next day was humbling. Of course, Florida fans, you can blame Tebow’s performance on me. Had I not made the small wager, the Gators would have won the game by about 38 points. I jinxed it, and for that, I’m sorry.
We stopped taking checks at the beginning of November. I’m perfectly okay with it, because it reduces the pressure that some of our Cast Members have when determining whether to take a suspicious check or not. This can be difficult, especially if someone is buying a lot of movies and/or high priced items, who are we to tell someone that we can’t take their check because they look sketch? If the name on their ID is similiar to the name on the check, but spelled different, now that might be easier (and it was, when that happened).
Not too long after the "no check" policy took effect, a guest spent about 45 minutes in our store shopping for some items. Picked out some great toys and apparel, all kinds of magic, and made it to the register. Whomever was taking her transaction, though I'm not sure if it was Bo Peep or Lady Kluck, immediately spotted the older guest taking her checkbook out. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but we no longer take checks."
Confused, the lady looks around the counter for a few seconds and responds, "I don't see a sign that says that," as if not having a sign present will preempt any policy we might have. "No ma'am, we don't have a sign available, but we have stopped taking checks. I do apologize, ma'am. Do you have another form of payment, a credit or debit card, or cash?" The Cast Member was nothing but polite.
"I don't have anything but a check. I don't have one of them debit cards, and I don't want to use my credit card. Why don't you take checks anymore?!"
Seeing this might be an issue, I stepped in, and simply explained that our policy had changed, and truly there was nothing we could do about it. This is true, by the way--our "check" button has even been disabled on the abacuses we call registers at The Happiest Place in the Mall, so even if I wanted to bend the rules in this instance... and believe me, I wasn't about to...
SIDEBAR... I've learned in retail that I'm pretty easygoing and very willing to work with guests, not only at The Happiest Place in the Mall, but also the Most Caffienated Place in Greystone. Usually, I can offer solutions, I can come up with a compromise, and even if it puts me out a little bit, I'm willing to do what I can do make sure if you don't walk out the door happy, at least you are satisfied with the resolution and knowledge that I did what I could do to help you. Perhaps I could do more, but the effort has been made--and this is what I expect at other places.
But--there's always a big but--if the guest begins to become rude, belligerent, nay, just a jerk about it, justified or not, or I can sense "a scene" coming on, suddenly my accommodating nature shuts down, ESPECIALLY if the guest is wrong on the issue at hand, or is not taking the time to understand the explanation. I no longer want to help you. I want to do something quickly and get you out of here. My temptation is to make sure you understand 1) how wrong you are, 2) what a jerkweed you are being and 3) my willingness to assist you in your troubles has left the buidling, replaced with my own selfish, albeit unrighteous, need to prove to you that you are, in fact, wrong. Hey, I'm not perfect, and I'm kinda of ego-driven when it comes to being right. Just sayin'.
As the Bo Peep had done, I let her know that there was nothing we could do. "Ma'am, I'm really sorry about this. There is an ATM machine at the food court, right around the corner (doing the two-fingered Disney point) and we'll be happy to hold all of this merchandise until you can return, if you'd like." She then, in not so few words, let me have it. I won't bore you much with the details, but it included phrases like, "Some of us are older and don't use debit cards" and "You're going to lose so much business this way" and "I've been shopping here for 20 years and you have always taken checks" and "You need to have a sign not only up here, but also out front that says 'We Don't Take Checks' so people won't spend 45 minutes in here shopping, wasting our time!"
I apologized again, she left in a hrumph! and that was that.
Smashcut to a few days ago.
I'm in the back, working on some things via email, and one of our Happiest Place veterans, Fauna, comes to me. She asks if we truly have stopped taking checks, and I replied that yes, we had, starting in November. Fauna said that she hasn't worked that much since then, and didn't know about it, and asked me if it was just our store, or nationwide. I told Fauna that it was in fact nationwide, and though I didn't know about the stores in Orlando and on WDW property, The Happiest Places in the Malls had stopped taking checks. Fauna informed me there was a highly unhappy guest outside who had come in to buy some things and we had told don't take checks.
You know where this is going.
I walk out and see our No Check Guest giving Fauna her own earful. I didn't catch it all, but she said phrases like "Some of us are older and don't use debit cards" and "You're going to lose so much business this way" and "I've been shopping here for 20 years and you have always taken checks" and "You need to have a sign not only up here, but also out front that says 'We Don't Take Checks' so people won't spend 45 minutes in here shopping, wasting our time!"
A few minutes later, the guest gave Hollipop at the register a similiar, though thankfully shorter, diatribe about our no-check policy.
As I bit my lip to stop a slight smile--perhaps I'm terrible that this kind of amused me, maybe I'm just jaded by over-the-top reactions--I thought about the signs all over our store. Many of them describe the sales that are going on, many of them give a "price point" to the particular fixture its resting on, some of them tell you the "2 For $12" deals and "$3 for $20" and so on. Now, I'm not saying this is a slam on anyone who does this, because I do this in stores too, but many times people will ask me the price on something that is clearly marked, or ask me if something is on sale, when there's not any signage to allude to it at all.
It occurred to me that if there was a sign posted at the register, anyone who spends 45 minutes shopping in our store will not see this sign until they get to the actual register, which means the 45 minutes had already been wasted. It also occurred to me that there are very few stores, if any, that have a "We Don't Take Checks" sign at their front door, save for the temporary kiosks or stores that sell Hickory Farms Sausages or 2010 calendars. And if people are picking up a Buzz Lightyear Plate that's sitting under a sign that says "Meal Time Magic... 3 for $12" and asking me if they can get three of them for $12, they certainly aren't going to see it posted around the store.
Christmas Happy Times indeed.