I'd also like to note two things... first, this is the 600th Post on Clouds in My Coffee. Second, sometime between this post and the next one, more than likely the 3rd and final part of the Happiest Place Finale, this page will hit 40,000 clicks. And in about 6 weeks, Clouds in My Coffee will be celebrating five years in existence. So, for giving me a reason to write 600 articles, for coming to this page 40,000 times and for making this at least popular enough to last five years... thank you, Coffee Drinker, thank you so, so very much.
And it is also a credit to you that you've shared with me not only getting the job at The Happiest Place in the Mall, but also coming with me until the end... but more on that part next time. For now, this is the 2nd of my 3 Part Happiest Place Finale... the first, entitled "Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs" can be found by clicking here.
As we wrap up, I thought I'd share with you a few stories from The Happiest Place...
"THIS AIN'T THE MAGIC KINGDOM"
I'm behind the box office counter with Bo Peep, I believe. Two moms--I say moms because they look to be about their mid-30s, and they struck me as sisters--had just finished buying a whole lot of stuff. Mom 1 had three bags worth of merchandise, Mom 2 had only one, but all bags were the large green bags, all full to the edges of stuff.
Mom 1 and Mom 2 were just as pleasant as they could be... and why not? They had both just saved a bunch of money. Not by switching to Geico, mind you, but by buying all their stuff at our then-25% off the entire store clearance sale.
Let me backtrack and explain one of our unwritten policies real quick... we don't hold merchandise. Well, to be exact, as non-closing store, we can hold an unpurchased item for you if you are on your way, or will be to our store in 24 hours or less. Its really up to the manager, and usually, if you were nice to me, I'd be willing to hold it a little longer.
After you purchase it though, its all yours. I don't like to hold stuff that you've bought because you don't want to walk to your car--a host of reasons, really... namely, if something happens to it, we're on the hook for it. If you don't come back that day, or forget about it, then we've got a bag of stuff that is paid for that we don't know what to do with. Not to mention our store isn't all that big, so frankly, we just don't have the room for it.
I remember getting really irritated over Christmas, as some guests would ask us to hold stuff for, in their words, "just a few minutes while we run to the food court" or "let me run next door to take Junior to the bathroom" or "can you please just hold this for 30 minutes?" and... well, four hours later, we'd have it piled up behind our counter.
So now that our store is closing, we've taken the mentality of "If you don't buy it, someone else will." That sounds horrible, I know, but with the chaos that overtook our store in our final weeks, we just did not have the space to hold bags for people.
Back to our story. Mom 1 and Mom 2 had their bags, M1 holding her three, M2 holding her one, when M1 looked at Bo Peep and said, "Would you mind holding this for us while we go shopping?" Usually, they give us the "bathroom" or "meet someone" or "food court" line, but she was just straight up. They wanted to leave their bags with us while they went shopping. Bo Peep paused, then looked over at me with a "What should I tell them?" expression.
If I know there might be an issue, I usually try to step in early so if the guests get angry, they get angry at me, not my Cast Members, and this of course, is what happened. "Ma'am," I said with a smile, "I'm sorry, we just aren't allowed to hold anything right now."
It was as if Mom1 had a split personality, and Unreasonable Mom stepped in for Happy Mom, in a matter of tenths of a second. "I'm sorry?" she asked. "You can't hold this for us?"
"No ma'am, I'm sorry. We just don't have the room to hold purchased merchandise."
"BUT THIS IS YOUR MERCHANDISE!" she almost shouted. What I wanted to say was, "Actually, its YOUR merchandise..." but I bit my tongue.
"I'm really sorry, but our policy doesn't allow us to hold merchandise right now. Our store is closing and we just don't have the room to keep up with it."
"You mean to tell me I can't just set this behind your counter?" Mom 1 asked, lifting up the three bags with some strain. Mom 2 stood silent, watching.
"Ma'am, we have about 180 boxes on our back dock at this moment, and nearly all of it will come to the floor. Not only do we not have the room, we can't be responsible for it either."
Mom 1 turned to Mom 2. "Well, we should just return all of this. We could come back and buy it later."
Mom 2, who looked like she just wanted to leave, replied, "Yeah, I guess we could."
Mom 1 turned back to me. "What if I just return all of this right here?"
I smiled, and in a really-not-being-sarcastic tone, said, "Yes ma'am, you could. Bo Peep would be happy to do that for you, as I assume you have your receipt. I would have to put it back on the shelves though."
Mom 1 gave me a very, very unkind scowl. She turned to Mom 2, who said, "Well, Mom 1. Do you want to return it? I'm going to keep mine, but you can if you want."
Mom 1 turned around and started walking out, with Mom 2 behind her. Then I heard Mom 1 say, "Terrible customer service. Can you believe this? You can tell we are in ALABAMA!" Mom 2 added, "Well, this isn't the Magic Kingdom, ya know."
I looked at Bo Peep and she looked back and me. I said, though not loud enough for WonderMoms to hear me, "Magic Kingdom wouldn't hold it either. They'd send it to the front of the park. Guess I could have volunteered to set it by the mall doors for them." Bo Peep laughed.
THE SWEATSHIRT HAGGLE
It is funny to me when people haggle over a sale price. Granted, I've done it before at like, Best Buy, on a high priced item, and sometimes it works--thanks Dave Ramsey!
But when the original price of something is $14.50 and you are getting it for $3.99, then taking an additional 40% off of that... there's not much I can do for you, really. Thus the lady at the sweatshirts found out for herself.
On our table there were 2 different Cars sweatshirts. One had just Lightnin McQueen, the other had McQueen and Mater on it. The one with just Lightnin was a dollar less, as it was an older style. Because we had neither the time nor resources to go and tag every sweatshirt, we put them all on the table with a $3.99 price point... if you picked up one that was red-tagged a little lower, than awesome for you.
She stood, looking at the different styles, and said in broken English, "Why... why is different... why different shirts?" I said slowly--not because she was stupid, but to articulate clearly--"Well, they are two different styles. That one is a little older, so its a little less."
"You give me both for smaller price?"
"You give me..." she picks up the higher priced shirt, "...this for same price as this..." she picks up older style.
"I'm sorry, I can't do that. They are both on sale for a great price, one is just a dollar more than the other."
"So... you can no give me lower price on both?"
Another lady of what looked to be Middle Eastern descent came in a few days later, and went straight to the Power Rangers soccer balls. Originally $12.50, they were on sale for $5.99, and then take an additional 25% off, making it $4.74 plus tax. She looked at the price sign, then tapped me on the arm.
"Excuse me," she said, "this is the price on these?"
I looked directly at the sign that said POWER RANGERS, then the white strip under it that read "$4.99", then directly at the tag on the sign that said, "TAKE AN ADD'L 25%!" I then said, "Yes ma'am, its $4.99, then take an additional 25% off."
"I need four."
"Well, awesome," I smiled, pointing to the fixture by where she was standing. "There are five right there, you can get your four, and have an extra if you like."
"I have birthday party," she started, "and bought 3 last week at this price. When will they go down in price?"
"I'm not really sure," I lied. Truth was, I knew they'd go down to 40% off sometime in the next day or two, but I can't say that... if people heard that, no one would buy stuff now. "I think it will be sometime in the next week, but I don't know for sure."
"Oh, okay" she gets a basket and puts 4 Power Ranger Soccer Balls in the basket. She comes to the counter.
"I pay this price for these balls last week. You can give me better deal?"
"Better deal on... the soccer balls? As in, take more off the price?"
"Yes!" she smiled, happy I understood her. Her smile turned upside down, though when I spoke.
"No, I can't take any more off the price. You're getting it at about 65 or 70% off the original price as it is."
"Oh, you can no lower the price? Well, who can?"
I smiled, trying not to laugh, and then pointed at my name tag. "Well, I would be the one to ask, but I'm not authorized to take more money off." Truth be told, I could... but I wasn't going to. There was no reason to.
As seen in the previous post in this trilogy, just because there are signs everywhere doesn't mean they read them. Didn't happen when we were a thriving, fully stocked store, and wasn't happening now.
Two tall gangsta looking dudes--okay, they are black gangsta looking dudes... (why do we always feel so uncomfortable saying someone is black?) came in. I smiled and greeted them, one waved back, the other gave a deep voiced, "Whas up?"
The two guys walked to the back of the store, they looked around and the Gangsta Lookin' Gangsta came up to me. "Scuse me... man, my girl likes Mickey Mouse. You got any Mickey Mouse?" I shook my head. "Dude, we've been sold out of Mickey Mouse for two weeks. We do, however, have Minnie Mouse."
"Where the Minnie Mouse?"
"Right over there, buddy," I Disney pointed to a shelf loaded up with Minnie Mouse plush, all for $5.99 after discount.
Gangsta Lookin' Gangsta walked over and picked up a Minnie plush, seemingly satisfied. Well Dressed Gangsta, however, is standing in the middle of the store just looking around. After a few seconds, he says, "Man, my mama used to bring me up in here when I was a little kid, like all the time. Man, I loved this place. I feel like I'm a little kid again when I come in here."
I laughed and said, "I know the feeling. Love working here too. Feel like a kid too. Enjoy it while you can, man."
He looked at me. "What do you mean?"
"Well, we're closing in a few weeks."
Well Dressed Gangsta paused, looked confused, then said, "You closing? What?!"
"Why you closing?"
"Its a leasing issue with the mall."
He took a few steps, looked around, stopped, looked back and me and said, "Man... that's cold blooded."
I nodded appreciatively and replied, "Indeed."
SORRY SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD
When you're annoying, I am usually okay with it. Heck, I'm annoying to many, and I appreciate the courtesy of putting up with me, so I do my best to extend the same to others. And when you realize you're being annoying, all the better.
Gardendale Blondie was a short woman from... well, Gardendale. As noble as I would like to sound by saying I'll give her the name "Gardendale Blondie" to protect her real identity, its really more of a case of not remembering her name.
We have little blue baskets to put your merchandise in while you shop, but that doesn't stop many guests from just piling up their stuff on the counter. They'll find a Donald Duck shirt or a Buzz Lightyear action figure or a Princess Vanity play set and just stack it on the counter... anyone who wants to actually check out there be darned. Thus the case with Gardendale Blondie. She. Had. So. Much. Stuff.
Not only did she have a huge pile of Magic going on, when she finally got to the register, she was still undecided about what she wanted. What happened in the next few minutes was me holding up one shirt after another, asking if she wanted it, followed by me holding up one toy after another, making sure she wanted it. She apologized at first, telling me she was so sorry for being a hassle, which was nice... and then...
"I'm so sorry, I know you are so tired of me... okay, I want that shirt. And that shirt. Yeah, that shirt. No, not that one. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. Okay, I'll take that shirt. That one too. I'm so sorry. I know you are being so patient with me. I'm sorry. Yeah, that shirt and that one. But not that one. I'm so sorry, what's my total? Okay, I will take that Princess thing there, and that one there, but you can put that shirt back. I'm sorry. Thank you for being patient with me... yeah, give me that shirt. Can you hold that one up? Hmm... put that one off to the side and I'll decide on that one. I'm sorry about this, so sorry, thank you for being patient with me..."
As forgiving as I could be, I started moving faster to get Gardendale Blondie gone a little quicker. Another five minutes of "I'm sorry", "I'm so sorry" and "Your so patient with me" before I finally gave her her $150+ total. And then she pulls her checkbook out.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry, we don't take checks." I wished so badly that our "check" button worked, because I think I might have truly used it, even though we hadn't taken checks since the previous November. And, of course, she felt bad. "You don't take checks? What? I'm so sorry. I'm sorry, thank you for being patient with me, I'm so sorry about this, let me find my credit card. Sorry."
She was nice enough, though.
THE LAST OF THE GREAT BIG SPENDERS
The animation up top is not for sale Nor is the stuff in the windows. There are a couple of hand made signs that say such things, but that doesn't mean we aren't asked about it fifty or sixty times per day.
Mark the Realtor wouldn't say no for an answer. I only know him as Mark the Realtor because I found his name was Mark, and he is a real estate agent. Tall, bald, grayish black beard and glasses, he asked me about the animation in the window and up top.
"So, what about all the stuff up there? And in the window? How much is it?" Mark the Realtor asks.
"Sorry, sir, that stuff is not for sale." I replied, stocking coffee mugs on a nearby shelf, not really even looking up at him for this question.
"Well, what are they going to do with it?"
"It goes back to the company."
"If and win they decide to sell it, can I put my name on a list to be called?"
I tried not to laugh. "Honestly, we don't have any list, because trust me, it won't be for sale."
"But if they do decide to sell it..."
Normally, I wouldn't cut someone off, but you can't tell the tone from my writing it out... it was about as arrogant a tone as you can possibly imagine.
"Trust me on this," I said. "I would bet the life of my own unborn children that Disney will not be selling any of the animation at the top and in the window."
Not being deterred one bit, he pulls out his business card and shoves it in my hand.
"Well, you know, if and when they decide to sell it, you have my card now."
"I gotta be honest with ya, buddy. If the only reason you are giving me your card [which said Mark the Realtor on it] is for me to call you if they decide to sell the animation, then you are wasting your card because you won't be called. Probably end up tossing your card."
Big smile. "That's a chance I'm willing to take. Just know I'll give you a thousand dollars right now for everything in the window."
This almost caused me to bleed as I was biting my lip to keep from laughing out loud. What I thought was, "Oh, wow, a thousand dollars, huh? Man, why not make it a thousand and fifty, Mr. Moneybags?" Never mind that each of those figures in the window could fetch at least a thousand each, if not more, Mark the Realtor will buy the whole thing for... a thousand dollars. (On eBay, as I type this, there is a Rafiki figure for $1300 right now... and a Golden Mickey, very close to the one we had in our store, can be bought for about $900).
He walked out. Still had his grand, got nothing from the window. And when he turned the corner and disappeared, I smiled at Carlotta as I ripped the card in two and tossed it.
AND FINALLY... THE EMPORIUM WE AREN'T
Had a guest walk in, look around, then smile at me saying, "Wow. This definately is not the Emporium on Main Street. That place has a lot more stuff. Y'all don't have hardly anything."
I just said, "That's why they are the Magic Kingdom and we are The Galleria Mall."
Anyway... I do have some stories of people being awesome (I thought the Cold Blooded guy was great) but really, those aren't nearly as much fun. The anecdotes of people being... well, unmagical, are always a little more entertaining.
Coming shortly... a farewell to The Happiest Place in the Mall.