Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I should of stuck with that job

A long time ago, some colleagues at my current job and I were chatting, and I was describing the most troubling part of the job I'd had when I worked at the Disney Store during the summers of 1993-1995.

"And so we had this thing at the back of the store, it was called 'Plush Mountain', and it was this pile of stuffed animals.  Brand new stuffed animals, all brightly colored, all these familiar Disney characters piled up way higher than any kid could see.  And these kids, they'd see it from way, way back in the store from between the racks of toys and coffee cups.  We had these high pillars filled with all kinds of Disney stuff.   It was too much.  It would just overload their little kid brains to see this amazing pile of Disney.

"So the kids would see it, and they'd start running at the mountain from half-way through the store, just barreling at full-tilt, ready to fling themselves into Plush Mountain.

"What these kids didn't know, and what their parents didn't know, I guess...  was that the only way you can have a mountain like that is to have these shelves built in.  It looks like a pile, but its this tiered thing, with these hard, wooden shelves built in in there, covered with laminate or something.  If any kid actually ever made the leap, and was able to jump in there headfirst, you know, the way they were trying, they'd have smashed their little faces in.

"So every Saturday, when the store was really busy, I'd get stationed at the back of the store.  And, yeah, you're helping people find stuff, but what you're really doing all day is catching these kids before they throw themselves face first into this mountain of stuffed animals, and that's just going to end badly.  All day, just kid after kid, you see them start running, and you're grabbing them.  Some of them, I kid you not, in mid-air.  Stopping some of them by the seat of their pants.  That's all you'd do all day."

My co-worker looked at me, and I could tell he had something to say:  "You were The Catcher in the Rye".

We kind of eyed each other for a minute and burst out laughing really, really hard.

"Jesus, I should of stuck with that job."

Nobody else at the table got it.


Paul Toohey said...

All I ever caught at my Mall retail job was of which I caught opening a DVD (that cellophane is LOUD in an empty store), and started watching who then tried to say I was racially profiling him.

Your catches sound WAY more enjoyable, although in a way you were probably breaking those little hearts!

The League said...

The Disney Store suffered a huge amount of shoplifting. It was always very hard to detect it, and at times you basically had to just let it go, even when you knew they had something. Disney did not want its employees fighting with customers (given I wore pink and baby blue for that job, the idea of me laying the smackdown on someone in that outfit has an oddly surrealistic appeal).

Truthfully, the "flying kids" thing made me very nervous. It just seemed like an ambulance ride for some kid and a lawsuit waiting to happen. The entire store had pretty clearly been designed by someone who had never worked a day of retail in their lives.

I've noted that Disney Stores that still exist now tend to look a lot more like a standard shop and less like an amusement park.

Paul Toohey said...

At Suncoast Motion Picture Company our Loss Prevention/Shoplifting "strategy" was much the same. They didn't want anyone trying to be the "hero" and getting injured. But when you did think someone was up to something, they wanted you to basically make it known to the theft that you were on to them. Basically just watch them a bit more closely, and if they can tell you're watching the more closely and get spooked and go away all the better.

It's odd how many things in life are seemingly designed by people who have no idea to their actual use. You'd think that they'd realize that doesn't work at somepoint.

J.S. said...

Wasn't there ever any temptation to let some of the most obnoxious kids finish their leap? See, this is why I would have been bad for that job. I would've been overwhelmed by the desire to watch the natural selection process in action...