Watching The Happiest Place in the Mall descend into a chaotic version of a bargain basement Disney outlet has been maddening. Its a store full of Cast Members who care about every single thing in our store, from how the shirts are folded (Bo Peep likes to take an excruciatingly long time to fold every shirt exactly, a trait that is a blessing and a curse) to turning the dome tumblers out so that each character is lined up, facing out, to making sure that everything that hangs is sized, smallest to largest, with a size 7 in front.
Now, its folding shirts as quick as possible... its filling bins with items that we've long since sold out of, sent to our store as clearance, and emptying those bins on a shelf as quickly as possible. Every morning, we throw the Magical Chum into the store, every morning the Bargain hunting sharks circle and kill.
The Lovely Steph Leann asked me the other day about work... a simple, "How was the day?" I sighed. I explained the day, now a typical day at The Happiest Place in the Mall, by this simple monologue...
"We close April 24th... it's a leasing issue with the mall... no, there are no plans to relocate... April 24th... yes, we are upset too... no, not everything in the store is on sale, sir... yes, ma'am, its April 24th... no, the animation characters around the top are not for sale... no, there won't be another store in Birmingham... April 24th... no, its not a relocation... its a leasing issue with the mall... not everything is on sale... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... April 24th... no, the characters around the top aren't for sale... no, we are not relocation... April 24th... we are unhappy about it too... no, its not a relocation... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... no, not everything is on sale... April 24th... April 24th... its a leasing issue with the mall... no, the animation characters around the top are not on sale... April 24th... no, its not a relocation... its a leasing issue with the mall... not everything is on sale... April 24th... April 24th... no relocation, its leasing, April 24th..."
If I were to walk into a store that was closing, I would ask those questions, I'm sure... "When are you closing, exactly?" and "Is there another store opening up anywhere?" and "What's going on? Why are you closing?" and though I wouldn't assume that everything is on sale, especially items that aren't under a sale banner or sign when its very, very clear that things that are on sale are indicated by large red signs that say, for lack of a better word, "SALE" on them, I would possibly ask what some of the sales were. When I hear these answers, it doesn't occur to me that while I'm only hearing them once, the person answering my questions are probably saying the same things 40 times per day. And thus, I am doing that very thing.
Fauna put it eloquently tonight... "It's like we're watching a terminally ill family member just waste away. We know the end is coming, but we have to watch it happen slowly."
I don't think it would be so bad, though, if people weren't... well, either a) thoughtless and rude... b) stupid... c) oblivious to anything that doesn't involve their immediate personal space or d) some combination of a through c, including but not limited to all choices together.
Guest, putting down a Princess Tiana tumbler on the counter.
Flora: Just so you know, ma'am, that one is $6.50, or 2 for $10.
Guest: Why ain't it $1.99 like the rest of them?
Flora: Well, ma'am, just the ones on the front table are on sale. The ones on the back fixture are regular price.
(never mind that because of this very issue, I had very clearly set the "$1.99" sign on the front table, then with purpose and intent, set another very visible sign that said "$6.50 OR 2 for $10" squarely in front of the regular price tumblers)
Guest: Well, that's just stupid. All your stuff should be on sale. I mean, y'all in are in bankruptcy!
Jason Turnbow, and his spawn Bailey, came in to say hello, smelling of the Jim'N Nick's BBQ they had just consumed. Not too long after that, the splendid Emmy Turnbow walked through to say hello. A hug and a smile from a beautiful friend is sometimes all that's needed to put a little sunshine on the night. And it was needed.
Tonight, I picked up no less than four half full to mostly full beverages off of shelves. Cups with "Manchu Wok" on them, or "Great Wraps", or a unidentifiable cup, with lid and straw, just left on a shelf, or on a rack. And during the course of my day, not only did I clean up milkshake, a large vanilla one from McDonald's that mom dropped, I also cleaned up a large glass of water, dumped accidentally, squarely in front of the box office counter...
...but the coup de grace...
Sitting in the backstage office, working on a numbers sheet, the phone rings from up front. Its Charlotta. "Hey, d$, we got a problem up here." Yeah, what's that? "Bring some paper towels. We got throw up."
I go into our restroom and grab a new roll of paper towels, and head to the stage. And sure enough, a young princess has decided that dinner was so good, she wanted to experience it twice... on the carpet, of course. And it was a good sized splatter too, with far reaching tentacles that stretched out at least a foot from its center core, which itself had a diameter of at least 8 inches of chicken particles and something that resembled cheese. Or oats. Or broccoli. Or Kellogg's Honey Smacks. Not sure.
A little girl, possibly 3, stood idly by, somewhat ashamed. To her credit, mom asked me for the paper towels to clean up what she could, and I allowed her that pleasure. I brought her the garbage can, and went to look for our chemical cleanser, Virex, to spray over it. As I sprayed it down, and leaned over to scrub and gather what I could, I looked over at the little girl, who had brown stains all over her sleeve. "Its okay, sweetie, you didn't mean to. It happens sometimes." Mom said she was sorry, and the little girl remained silent. "You feeling okay now?" I asked. She said she was. "You know, sometimes when I am sick and throw up, I suddenly feel better. That's so weird to throw up and then feel okay, isn't it?" She agreed that yes, it was weird.
I told her to stand back while I sprayed the Virex, and this is when dad entered the picture And my first thought? Cousin Eddie. No joke.
"So, where y'all moving too?"
"Nowhere. Its just a closing."
"What? That's a shame, man. So there ain't gonna be no Disney in Birmingham, huh?"
"Where's the closest ones gonna be now?"
"There are several stores in Atlanta, and if you are in the area, you can try the Mobile store."
"Atlanta? Man, that's a long ways off. So, what y'all gonna do now?"
Still scrubbing. With a smile on my face, mind you, because for at least the next 60 days, that's my job.
"Well, we'll all move on and find other jobs, I'm guessing."
"When's y'all's last day gonna be?"
"April 24th... well, unless we run out of stuff to sell."
"So, it is just the 'conomy and all? I mean, like, y'all shutting down cause things are so bad and all?"
"No sir, its a leasing issue with the mall."
"What? Really? So, its not business, its... " Cousin Eddie gets cut off by the vomitous daughter and what I'm assuming is a son. "Y'all stay back, he's cleaning up now, okay? Y'all get back. [turns back to me] So, it's a mall issue? Man, that's just terrible. Real terrible."
I see him stick his leg out, and with the end of his foot, point to another smaller, yet still viably potent, area of splatter. Cousin Eddie says, "Don't forget this spot here. She done threwed up in two places."
And, at this point, it was around 9pm, so it was time to pull the gate. Mom had already gone to buy daughter another shirt because the one she had now reeked of Chick-fila and stomach acid. A busy, busy day, and to show for it, we had three tables full of toe'up from the flo'up t-shirts, a ring where vanilla milkshake stood, and a large dark spot, with a small dark spot nearby, where the vomit stood.
Still, I love my job. I don't have to keep telling myself that to believe it, I just know it to be true... but, and this is in all honesty... I am getting to the point where I can see the end. And its a sigh of relief.