Walt’s Juggernaut Defeated Me

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I surrender.  Next time my family needs a vacation, we will be at the local Holiday Inn using day passes for their pool while I ignite five grand in cash in the lobby fireplace.  Any disappoint I feel from burning through the seed money for my kids’ college education will be more than offset by knowing that another magical Disney adventure has been postponed indefinitely.  Why do I have such despise for the happiest place on earth?  Allow me to recount my experience.

Upon entering Disney World on our first day, my daughter spiked a 101 fever.  After hooking up the IV bag to the stroller so she could mainline Motrin, we pressed on.  Damn the influenza.  We didn’t travel 2,000 miles to sit in a hotel room.  After resolving the fever situation, my son stood in front of the most magical castle in the world and whined that he wanted to go to the hotel pool because it had a waterfall.  I explained we had only been in the park for five minutes and that Disney had Splash Mountain, a waterfall you could ride.  His complaints persisted.

The park had not officially opened and my children were irritating me to the point where I questioned more pleasant situations such as being stranded at a North Korean airport, running out of oxygen in a sinking submarine, or undergoing anesthesia awareness during a major surgery.  Yes, things could be better, and my optimism for the rest of the trip was starting to fade.

Being unfamiliar with the race to the rides after Mickey and his crew do their welcoming ceremony in front of the castle, we were nearly trampled like Who fans as seasoned Disney ticket holders surged when the gates opened.  Joy turned to urgency, which transformed to panic, as parents rushed their children to move faster to be the first on the Seven Dwarfs’ Ride.  Like refugees, fleeing their homeland for safer grounds, strollers were abandoned, crying children were left for security to be claimed later, and the practice of “women and children first” was disregarded.  The rest of the day oscillated between chasing down Fastpass windows and suppressing my children’s vocalization of them hating on the Magic Kingdom, their family, waiting in line, and their legs hurting from walking.

I was not alone in my struggle.  A random father told me “I want to get separated from my family.  Then I’ll be happy.”  Arguments, from what seemed like normally sane couples, erupted as we navigated the park.  If I were to make one suggestion to the corporation, I would urge Disney to offer divorce kiosks throughout the park advertising “Get Divorced Here in Under 10 Minutes!”  That business would be a boon to the bottom line.  My marriage, approaching ten years of wedded bliss, has been through a lot, but nothing as trying as the asphalt labyrinth where an oversize rodent is king.

Mickey Hell
Worst Idea Ever

After two days of chicken nugget lunches, we took a day off.  We stayed back at the hotel.  The children laughed and swam in the pool.  One of them voluntarily took a nap.  My wife and I enjoyed a conversation without passive-aggressive undertones or an assumption of self-destructive behavior on the other’s part.  We ordered pizza; compared to Walt’s prices, it felt like it was free.  The kids went to bed at a normal hour.  Life was good, until we realized we still had one more day of pixie dust and Dumbo rides ahead of us.  We debated eating the cost of the tickets and driving over an hour each way to the ocean, but Disney’s invisible hand beckoned us.

On our third day, we were like downtrodden, weary soldiers going to battle long after the adrenaline had exhausted our systems.  In the parking lot, we traversed to the yellow line to await our tram when a vision appeared before me.  With a banging body dressed in butt-hugging Adidas warm-up pants and a white tank, a woman with red dyed hair broke the monotony of the vacation spawned from the underworld.  I expected to see a vixen of this caliber flaunting her goods at the Spearmint Club in Las Vegas, not in the humid state where retirees go to die.  I enjoyed the respite while ignoring my children open-hand slapping each other as they yelled insults in the key of excrement.  I tuned out my wife’s nagging that we didn’t bring enough cash for the twenty fold marked-up light saber souvenirs.

The tram pulled up with the driver blaring, “You are in the Simba lot, remember this or be lost in our sea of 15,000 parked cars.”  I hustled the stroller and our backpacks onto the tram when a voice exacerbated the drudge of my Disney week, “Simba?  You guys hear that? Let’s do it guys!”

I begged for it not to be my Ariel inspired stripper.  My head rotated to find my fantasy destroyed as she led her family of six in an acapella version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.  Even the dad got into the rolling baseline of the tune.  I don’t know what was worse:   that the family prepared their whole life for this performance or that I used to identify with that idyllic clan only days prior.  I downgraded the woman, who I previously wanted to slather in dollar bills, to just another customer of the forced family fun machine.

My wife made eye contact with me as she mouthed, “It’s their first day”.  Her deadpan comment united us again on a deeper level.  It was the first time on Disney property when we connected in a meaningful way.  Then reality set in that we still had to endure a final day in happy prison.

UPDATE (4/12/17):  After Disney received this letter, I was contacted by a Jessica, a Disney rep, who was very attentive and discussed with me the finer points of my letter.  She offered me 5, 3-day Disney tickets, free of charge, that do not expire until 2037.  Initially I refused, but she insisted I take them in case I changed my mind about returning.  Please keep in mind that Disney really does care about making its customers happy.  

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Letters to Corporate: A Big Bank

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When I see injustice in the world, I point it out.  Today, I took on a financial institution.  Do I expect an underdog victory here?  Absolutely not.  

Change matters.
Hey Bank, change matters.

Here’s to change:

Ms. [CEO of a publicly traded bank]:

This weekend I visited the new branch at [address].  I was impressed with the sleek design, smiling staff and on-site parking.  Upon entering the building, a greeter acknowledged me and guided me to a teller.

I placed my jar of change on the counter for deposit.  I was informed that this branch didn’t have a coin counting machine.  Although, I consider manual change counting tedious and error prone, I saw no other alternative to complete my deposit.  I learned that this state-of-the-art location does not accept deposits in the form of change.  After gasping at the thought of our currency being rejected by a bank with its profits directly correlated to monetary transactions, I regained my composure.  Fortunately, your manager had a solution.  He instructed me to take my change to the local, privately owned rinky-dink grocery store, which purportedly had a change-counting machine.  I considered my options:

  • Withdraw all of my money from your bank to see if the grocery store would accommodate me in opening a banking account.
  • Organize a community rally in the name of coins. Given that most of the country carries change in their pocket along with consideration of the demographics of my neighborhood, I would anticipate a large, sign-carrying turnout in front of the branch demanding equal treatment for coins and paper money.
  • Accumulate a pile of pennies large enough to pay my monthly mortgage payment. According to the US Department of Treasury, Title 31, Subtitle IV, Chapter 51, Subchapter I, Section 5103 “United States coins and currency are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues”.  In my estimation, it would take six five-gallon buckets, each weighing approximately 260 pounds, to make my next mortgage payment in pennies.  For this lone transaction, it might make sense for your obtuse institution to acquire a change machine instead of depending on a hand count.

I am no Luddite.  I do the Facebook, text the chats, and even dial-in to check the latest news and sports stories on the internet.  I also appreciate [Bank]’s avant-garde approach to encourage paper and electronic forms of currency over the traditional methods of coins.  However, to remove coin counting machines, and essentially issue an edict to reduce the significance of coins in our monetary system, seems like a despotic move for [Bank].  Coins are not an anachronism in 2016 and a $XX billion market capitalized mega bank should know this to be true.

I wish to continue my twenty-year relationship with your bank, but if you continue to abandon rudimentary services such as change counting, I will look elsewhere for my banking needs.

Sincerely,

[Skiing In Jeans]

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Letters to Corporate: Anheuser Busch

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Coming at your senses sideways.
Coming at your senses sideways.

I have been a legal, and ethical, user of your products for almost fifteen years.  Despite the recent surge of new craft beers in the marketplace, I have remained loyal to your products for their mass produced, consistent, and predictable flavor.

Normally, when I enter the liquor aisle of the grocery store, I quickly grab your flagship product and head to the check out.  Over the past weekend, I noticed a case of “New; Bud Light Lime Straw-ber-Rita; Margarita with a Twist.”  Could it be possible that my favorite, formerly US owned, alcohol manufacture had somehow bottled the classic island drink most appreciated while sitting at a swim-up bar in an all-inclusive resort?  Without hesitation, I tossed the case of Straw-ber-Rita in my cart and headed to the register.

For legal reasons, I had to wait until I was home before tearing into the case of Straw-ber-Rita.  On the drive home, I prepared myself for the mental escape to a place where buffets and palm trees dominate the landscape.  I cracked open the top of the small eight ounce container and tasted the beverage.  My throat convulsed due to the carbonation level of the beverage.  Out of respect for your company, I won a battle against my gag reflex triggered by the horrid drink I had just consumed.  Would Adolphus Busch and Eberhard Anheuser have approved of this vile concoction?

Upon regaining my composure, I reexamined the can and box of the Straw-ber-Rita for any indications of the high carbonation level contained in this product.  I wanted to blame myself for my lapse in preparation for this cocktail, but I could not find any signs that the company that brought tasty products such as Bud Light, Bud Ice, and Bud Light Platinum to market had mutilated the staple vacation drink.  My mind raced with options:  Do I force myself to consume the rest of the case out of deference to your company or throw the rest of the case out with Monday’s trash?

This letter is not written to antagonize your company.  It is written so that Anheuser-Busch is aware that you have an unsatisfied consumer.  I will continue to enjoy your flagship product, but I will be leery of trying new products from your company with sales dependent on allusions spawned from brilliant marketing.

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