A Day of Great GuestsAugust 21, 2009
As we’re wrapping up our training, it’s quickly becoming obvious what my favorite part of the job will be: interacting with the guests. Today we worked behind the register some, and also worked the position known as “personal shopper.” This is another example of Disney-ese. Really, the personal shopper role just consists of walking around the floor, talking to guests, and trying to help them find anything they may need. It was a little awkward at first, initiating contact with complete strangers, but I quickly got really into it. Some of the guests just said they didn’t need any help; they were just browsing. That’s fine, and it’s typically my answer when sales people ask me if I’m looking for anything specific. But I was really surprised by how many people actually seemed excited to talk to me. Although we had lots of great guests today, a few really stand out in my mind. These people made my first real day of guest interaction special, and I hope that, on any days in the future when I’m feeling down about my job or don’t feel like going to work, I can remember exactly how wonderful these guests were.
One of the first guests that really stood out in my mind was a woman who was probably in her early 30s. She was with her family, and while they shopped she came up to me and pulled out her map. She wanted to know about show times. So I got her a times guide, and asked her what show they were looking for. They wanted to catch the “safari show”. I told her our Kilimanjaro Safari ran continuously until 6:00, so they could catch it anytime during the day. She was very happy to hear this, and asked me what other shows I would recommend. Not only was I able to recommend Festival of the Lion King, but I told her to make sure they were there at least half an hour early, mentioned that it might be difficult to get out of the arena quickly after the show, and recommended that they wait until later in the day, when the weather is cooler, to ride Kilimanjaro so they would have a better chance of seeing more animals. All of these were things I knew from my own experiences in the park, and her reaction to my advice made me feel great. She gave me a huge smile, thanked me, and headed back to her family, telling them exactly what I had told her: that they would go catch The Lion King, and then ride Kilimanjaro when it cooled off in the afternoon.
I’m still really enjoying Pin Trading, and it led to some of the best guest interaction of the day. We were working in the “Island Mercantile” store, and our trainee took us outside as Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle parade went by, so that we could watch. While we were watching the parade, one of my fellow CPs and I noticed an older man wearing a vest completely covered, front and back, with pins. After the parade passed, we worked for a while at the Pin Trading booth, and this sweet gentleman came over to see what pins we all had. His name was Barry, and as he talked and joked with us, he gathered quite the crowd. People of all ages were coming over to see his collection, and he answered all sorts of questions. Turns out he’s been pin collecting since Disney started it in 2000, and he said his favorite pin is his very first one: his wife bought it for him for $10 in 2000, and he says that now the same pin sells for over $150 on Ebay.
A little while after Barry left, a boy around 10 years old came over to trade with me. He found a pin on my lanyard he wanted, but his pins were secured with special locking backs, and he couldn’t find his key. We went inside, and asked one of the full-time Cast Members if we sold keys to fit his lock. Turns out the locking backs sold at Disney are a slightly different size, so none of the keys would fit. I wasn’t sure what to do: this poor kid wanted the pin, but couldn’t get any of his off of his lanyard to trade! I looked over to the full-time CM who was helping us, and she gave me a little nod. So I took the pin off my lanyard, gave it to the boy, and told him to keep his pin, and enjoy the rest of his day. I was really happy that I could do something to make him smile. But a few minutes later, her returned the favor! I turned around, and the same boy was behind me, holding out the pin he had wanted to give me off his lanyard. He said his dad had found his key, and so he wanted to come back to give me the pin he owed me. This kid could have easily kept both pins, without even having anything to feel guilty about. I had told him to keep both pins, after all. But he didn’t: he returned to complete the trade. People like Barry and this little boy really made me realize how even a little thing like pin trading can mean so much to people. Today, I really did feel very lucky to be a part of that.
Not everything today was Pixie Dust and sunshine: I came home very tired, hungry, and sick of my stupid costume. And I’m sure that, once the novelty wears off, I’ll start to take moments like these for granted. But four months isn’t that long, and I hope that even by the end of the program I’ll still remember how wonderful it felt to help make the day magical for our guests.