One of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had in my Disney career happened today.
I’ve been feeling a bit ill today; I’m weak, feel disoriented and feel as if my skin were burning hot, so being a roustabout (floor stocker) wasn’t quite helping the situation, and neither was this unexpected cold front. Seriously Florida, make up your mind.
I only had 30 more grueling minutes to go, as I slowly but steadily folded some blankets over the main entrance of The Big Top, when a gentleman, about mid 50’s, approached me shyly. He asked if we had anything Dumbo, and I smiled and motioned around me.
-“I think you’ve come to the right place!”
He laughed and nodded.
-“I was hoping to. However, I need something a bit specific. Is there anything like, a figurine, or print, where he has his feather, and maybe, possibly, be flying?”
Well, damn. Most everything has a feather, but flying? Tough. But of course, I’m a stubborn, hard headed CM and even after the computer where we can search out items failed me, my mind kept racing for anything while running around the store, gentleman by my side, and listening to him boast about his daughter, the intended receiver of the gift, and when I saw the mug that depicted Dumbo, holding on to his feather and soaring over the burning building, I hit myself in the head. I laughed and apologized with the excuse that I wasn’t myself today, but he did nothing but smile, pat my shoulder,and then, his face grew somber and he teared up.
Usually, when this sort of thing happens, I smile and pat them back, and remain silent. I guess I really wasn’t feeling myself, as I asked the reason for his tears. He explained.
-“My daughter just graduated last year. She should be so happy, but she’s a little down. I want this to be a token of her faith, you know. Like how Dumbo has his feather to give him faith.”
-“Oh, I’m sorry. Is she a bit insecure”- I asked because I am naive and oblivious.
-“A bit, but it’s not that. She got diagnosed with lupus last year, too. She’s got it rough, but she needs strength, to fight, you know? Specially since she now can’t have kids. That was her whole thing. But she’ll be okay. She just needs her feather.” -He smiled so sadly.
It hit me. I have to do something better. I asked him to wait as I ran backstage and asked for ideas with my new managers. As we were talking, she was putting away a box of arts & crafts (for our bulletin boards) and in it I spotted, a long, fluffy, black feather. She followed my gaze, her head snapped up and gasped. She basically thrusted the feather in my hand with a cute little post card that read, ‘If you believe it, you can soar!’ and pushes me out the door, but halfway there I panicked; I suck at speaking. I’m redundant and I stutter. I’ll sound like a jackass. I stood in front of him, feather in my hands and he stared at me for a moment, then his eyes dropped to the feather and his bottom lip quivered. My heart broke, but I took a deep breath.
-“It’s hard to have faith when we’re given news that affect our entire life. I know this first hand. I think, she’s slowly getting her strength from a father as wonderful as you. But here, tell her Dumbo doesn’t need his feather anymore; he already discovered he can fly on his own. She can have it until she truly realizes that all she needed all along, was you, and that’s already there. When that time comes, she can give it to someone else who might need a little help to fly.”
We spent the rest of my shift hugging, crying and laughing. Honestly, I’m still crying.