Direct line to Mickey Mouse
The best vacations are the ones you take at the last minute because Disney World is offering free meals and Expedia has $200 plane tickets to Orlando and your boss is making you feel stabby. And Disney World is the best place on earth to accumulate points for humanity.*
Of course, we have lots of bobo friends who quietly judge us. Hypercommercialism, colonization of the childhood imagination, overzealous copyright protection, homogenized and idealized presentation of reality, Walt’s fascist tendencies- they have lots of reasons to hate it. To which I reply, “Hey, is that a 55 inch flatscreen TV and pictures from your all-inclusive resort vacation in the Dominican Republic in the living room and a Volkswagen Jetta in the driveway? SUCK IT.” Unless you are living in a cabin deep in the wilderness and weaving your own underpants out of hemp, you don’t get to judge me.
We live in the second poorest neighborhood in the city and my daughter gets enough of unhomogenized reality, thank you. By the time she was three, she could identify a dirty needle at 20 paces and had invented a charming nickname for the verbally aggressive junkie who sleeps in our doorway (The Sleepy Beer Man). What she needs is a little magic and if all it takes to give her that is a trip to Orlando and some credit card debt, then bring it on.
Disney World is a place that trains and treats its staff so well that the guy who picks up the cigarette butts will get down on one knee, take your 2 year-old daughter’s hand, and tell her she’s a princess. And I doubt it’s in the official job description of the cashiers and kitchen staff at the Pop Century resort to drop everything and gather in the center of the food court to do the hustle for their guests, but they do. And it looks like they’ve rehearsed. Everywhere you go, you find someone who is ready to take care of you and to make you feel that your visit is as important to them as it is to you. Commercial? Yeah. These people can have my money any time.
Even the other guests make it work. You can let go of your kid’s hand and you can park a stroller with $600 worth of overpriced goretex jackets and come back two hours later knowing nothing has been touched. For every cranky yelling parent there are ten waiting an hour in line so their kids can ride Dumbo. I have been there four times and never seen a single obnoxious teenager. This trip alone I counted 10 kids who sprang out of bus seats to let mothers and grandparents sit down. And I’ve seen quite a few adolescent boys coming off It’s a Small World holding a little sister’s hand.
If I have to award the point to one person this trip, it would be the teacher guy. On the way home, our shuttle was overbooked, so we had to wait and we were sure that we were not going to make it to the airport in time. It’s quite stressful for a seven year-old to watch her exhausted, sweaty parents spin themselves into a tizzy over the possibility of a missed flight. By the time I realized we were freaking her out, she was starting to cry. So the guy sitting on the bench next to us, a teacher flying home with some teenagers on a school trip, whipped out his cell phone and dialed.
“Yeah, Mickey? Listen Buddy, we need some help. No, no- we had a great time. My favourite? Everest. Yeah, the Yeti. (To my daughter) Did you do Everest? It’s awesome, isn’t it? (Back to phone) Mickey? Yeah, she loved it too. Listen, the reason I’m calling is I need your help. We need another bus to get us to the airport. What’s that? Yeah, as soon as you can. Really? Thanks, man. Thanks a lot.”
And then he turns to my daughter and says, “I called Mickey Mouse and he’s going to take care of it right now.”
I was too stressed out to get his name. But for the look of skeptical relief in my daughter’s eyes, I’ll give him one point for humanity.
* No promotional considerations were provided for this post. I just love these guys.
The Apocalypse: 10.5