Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm Here to Tell You...

Sometimes I blog to share general info... what's going on, what's the take on the latest movie or CD I've gone through, perhaps a little anecdote of this, that or the other, and of course, American Idol and lots more pictures of Pickles. 

And then, sometimes, life happens, and it kinda catches you a little off guard.  And then, I blog to share those off-guard moments, even when, as in this instance, not only is there not a resolution, there's barely a beginning to what will be a long and strange trip.

January 5th... late in the evening, in the master bedroom of The Cabana, I leaned up against our dresser, talking to The Lovely Steph Leann, who lay in bed, propped up by a pillow, book in lap, finger holding her page to go back to the chapter when we were done discussing.  We talked about jobs, the future and what The Happiest Place in the Mall was to me.  I shared that I wanted to be careful that my job, as much as I love it, didn't become my only identity.  I wanted my identity to be found in Christ, not in what pays the bills.  I contended that doing something worthwhile is important, but it shouldn't be what defines us.  We also discussed my future there, how long I wanted to be there--a long time--and the meeting the next morning with our Magical Manager and a Higher Up.  All offices have a Higher Up.  Someone who is... well, who is Higher Up.

January 6th... My best mate Wookiee picked me up around 9 am.  We were headed out to Mobile, Alabama, for the night to take in the GMAC Bowl, where the Troy Trojans would be battling the Chippawas of Central Michigan... another blog, another day... but before that road trip commenced, we had to swing by the mall.  I was going to go into the quick meeting with Magical Manager and Higher Up, while Wookiee went off and ate 45 chicken biscuits at Chicken deFila. 

Went in, met Higher Up, introduced myself, we chatted for a little while, and joined Magical Manager in the backstage area.  Soon, we were joined by Fauna and Sarabi for an update on how awesome we were... and we were awesome.  We are awesome. 

And then, this.

"I'm here to tell you your store is closing."

What?  Say that again?

"I'm here to tell you your store is closing."

My ears didn't catch it.  Only when Magical Manager became teary eyed, Fauna had begun waterworks herself and Sarabi sat, mouth open, stunned, did I figure out what I'd just heard twice.

"I'm here to tell you your store is closing."

I leaned back, put my head back against a bin of Tinkerbell placemats and Toy Story storage containers and sighed.  This can't be happening, right?  This is the oldest Happiest Place in the Mall in all of the Happiest Place in the Mall stores.  This is a Happiest Place in the Mall that truly was such... finally, after a while of piecing it together, we had a Cast that was just fabulous, a Cast that loved each other and gelled together like no other.... Snow White, Fauna, Flora & Meriweather, Chip & Dale, Sarabi, Bo Peep, Tigerlily, Charlotta... these were people I saw some combination of every day, and in a few months, these would be people I'd never see.

"I'm here to tell you your store is closing."

There's so much to tell when it comes to this, but I can't talk about it.  Yet.  I have been given reasons, and I'm obligated not to go into those reasons.  Yet.  I can tell you this, though... its upsetting.  Its anger inducing.  Its heartbreaking.  Its just plain sad.

As I walked out of The Happiest Place in the Mall, Wookiee walked up and laughed, "Dude, did you get fired?"  I mockingly said, "Uh... not exactly..."  Once in the Wookiee Racer, I picked up the phone and called The Lovely Steph Leann.

"Hey," she answered. "What's up?"
"Are you sitting down?"
"Uh, yeah," she said, voice changing to a more grave response.  "What's wrong?"
"The store is closing."
A chuckle came from Wookiee, as he drove out of the mall parking lot and onto the flyover for the interstate.  I ignored him, because he thinks I'm kidding.
"Yep.  We close in April.  I've got severance information right here in my hands."
Silence from Wookiee now.
"You are kidding... why... why is the store closing?  I thought you guys were doing great..."
"We were. We are..." I said, then explained to her what had been explained to me.  We chatted for a few more minutes, not really saying anything but rehashing what was already spoken.  "I'll call you later when we get to Mobile."  I hung up.

"Dude," Wookiee stammered, "Sorry about that... I... uh, I thought you were kidding, which is why I laughed."
"No worries," I said, as we discussed the morning's events.

January 8th... after a busy, cold morning at Starbucks, I took a power nap then headed to The Happiest Place in the Mall.  The night before, I placed a call to Snow White and had gotten the lowdown on the bigger meeting.  All the managers had met on Wednesday morning, the regular cast had a store meeting on Wednesday night (in which I was freezing my Stanley Tucci off in a half empty football stadium), and Snow White was there.  "There wasn't a dry eye in the house," she said.  "Well, except for maybe Little John.  He was just sad."

Here are the answers to the three questions you now have for me...

First, I have a good sense on why.  I just can't share it.  The official "Yer outta there!" date is the end of April, so perhaps after that, I'll have a little more freedom to sit down and say, "Okay, here are my thoughts and theories on why I don't have my favorite job anymore."

Secondly, there a couple of stores closing, but not the whole chain.  Our 21 year old store is, however, going to be shuttering its doors.

Third, I have no idea what I'll do.  Not a clue.  Not a faint sense of any sort of somewhat of a clue.  I haven't gone on a real job hunt since 2005 when I left NBC, and even then, I ended up going full time with my part time job at Starbucks.  Heck, then I only had 30 days, and now I've got 3 to 4 months to figure it out... and yeah, Starbucks is an option on the table, but I haven't even approached the right people to find out if this is a real possibility or not--or thought enough yet to know if I want to do it again full time.

So, as it stands...

"I'm here to tell you your store is closing"

Today at work--for the first time in a long, long time, it felt like work--I walked around the stage and let it settle in my brain.  This is it.  Everything we sell is another piece closer to being finished.  Monday we put up a big sign that says, "This location will be closing", with a big smiling Mickey on it.  Can't Mickey shed a tear for us, just once?  After all, Mickey is just here to tell us our store is closing.

So, thus begins another twist that no one saw coming.  And in May, I'll go back and read this post, and every post in between that discusses what's happening at The Happiest Place in the Mall.  Hope you stay tuned.


  1. I was told when I came in Thursday morning. I didn't know what to say. It didn't really hit me until I walked out into the store, and I realized what was going to be lost. I started tearing up, but I had to stop because, you know, people were looking at me. But, good grief. Our store has been a part of my life since I was a tiny little child. I can still remember being 3 feet high, staring up at all the characters and feeling like I was in Wonderland.

    It was completely dead all day Thursday, what with the impending "blizzard" and all. So inbetween the 10 guests we had all day, all I had to do was mark a bunch of merchandise down. Every time I pulled the trigger on the price gun I felt like I was shooting a hole in the store. It made me feel so horrible.

    I never thought I'd find a job where I had something in common with everyone I worked with. My time at the Disney Store has been some of the happiest months of my life, and I just can't believe it's going away so soon.

    All I can say is, thanks for letting me fullfill one of my childhood dreams. It's been a lot of fun : )

  2. So sorry to read this news from your world D$. I'm glad that you have a little time to figure things out and an option or two to consider as well. Thanks for sharing. I'll be praying for you and the other staff. Looking forward to hearing the developments.


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