The job wasn’t perfect, management wasn’t perfect, and I wasn’t perfect either. I was reaching my breaking point, but I had never quit a job, or really anything in my life so I didn’t want to give this up either. But I was pushed to my limits for so long, I was exhausted, and I made a mistake. I will fully admit to making a mistake regarding a guest’s experience. I know this was my fault.
The guest was visibly upset and raising their voice at me, but I had not yet realized the mistake I made. All I could see in the moment was this guest leaning over the counter to get closer to my face and yelling at me. Instead of remaining calm and trying to understand what he was trying to tell me, I raised my voice back. Strike 4.
I raised my voice at a guest. I raise my voice at a guest at the Happiest Place on Earth. This is coming from a girl who worked at a Call Center. Yeah, I was the person who calls people at dinner time and begs them for money. People would yell at me and tell me I’m worthless and won’t go anywhere in life and I would just hang up the phone and laugh at them unbothered. Because I knew my worth.
But at Disney it was different. I had been talked down to for so long and looked down upon that I put myself on that same level and yelled back at a guest. Because at that point I didn’t know who I was, let alone know my worth.
After that shift I was terrified the guest would go to management and I would get a reprimand. But nothing happened, no one ever found out and I never got in trouble. So, I started breaking more rules because I knew that nothing was going to happen to me. I snuck into resort pools and stayed there all day, I called in and went to the parks, I took days off just because. I could see these changes in myself and I knew something wasn’t right, because I never break rules over fear of getting in trouble.
I continued work as usual just because I didn’t want to be weak and quit. Then, I came in for a 2p.m. – 11:45 p.m. shift as greeter. Greeter is essentially hostess, you’re the person who greets the guests, takes their orders, and then report them back to the kitchen. Greeter will stand there for their entire shift because it is the one position that does not have someone who can be their back up, unless a manager or supervisor is free and can take over for a short minute.
[This is a warning: if you get grossed out by that thing that happens to a woman once a month, stop reading]. Greeter was my favorite position because it was outside of the kitchen and I actually got to talk and interact with the guests. However, I was not feeling well that day, even before I had arrived at work, I had a headache that just wouldn’t go away. I kid you not, not even a half hour into this shift, I could feel it; I got my period. While standing in a position with no back up person, a line out the door, and wearing Khaki pants. Yep, khaki.
So, I’m standing there trying to take orders without moving or even breathing really, silently panicking because you just don’t know what could happen to those khaki pants. I finally got a break between guest orders but there was still nothing I could do because maybe I’m not taking orders but the kitchen is still filling orders and of course management was nowhere to be found. There’s a shock.
Finally, one of my female coworkers came in for her kitchen shift and I leaned over the counter to explain what happened, she generously took over for me for a minute or two. This was not enough time to run down all the way to the end of the building to get what I actually needed to deal with the problem in my pants, but it was enough time to do a band aid fix.
My shift continues. It is now 10 p.m. and I am still taking orders and trying not to move too much and only stand certain ways because I haven’t been sent to break yet even though I’ve been there since 2p.m. Not going on break would not have been an issue for me since my shift was short and I didn’t have to close, but I was still concerned about the problem in my pants. So, at 10:45p.m. when my shift ended at 11:45p.m., I finally got my break. Strike 5.
Even after this, I continued to go to work. Until one day, I called my mom like I had done many times before, but this time was different. She said “I’m sending you plane ticket options, you can pick the time, but you’re packing your things and you’re coming home”. I of course, tried to argue with her, but I even talked myself out of my own argument. This place had destroyed me and she was right, it was time to leave it behind.
Telling my roommates was the hardest thing I had to do, but they were more than supportive. I called into work for the next few days so I could spend as much time with them as possible. They even went out of their way to schedule character breakfasts with me, time to play at the parks, and we even did our first and last beach trip together. Those last few July days were the first time I had felt like myself and purely, genuinely happy, since moving there in March.
SOMETIMES, at my new job, I’m still dealing with the impact that Disney had on me. I struggle with my confidence. I can’t even send an email without reading it 13 times to make sure everything is correct. When I do finally complete the task, or send the email, I sit there anxiously waiting for someone to tell me that I did it wrong because that is how it was for so long.
Disney made me believe that I wasn’t good enough, I was worthless. No one should ever have to go through that by an employer and if you do, know that you have to put yourself first and get out. Working for Disney was truly an experience that I will never forget, no matter how much I want to. So, there you have it. I came clean and gave you the truth about Disney.
***To my friends who are currently working there and loving it, I am so happy for you. Please try to remember that this is my truth and no one else’s.