Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Disney Douchebag

A conversation here at work got us trading vacation stories which reminded me of two pretty funny stories from my various trips to Walt Disney World.  One of the benefits of my work with the show choir is that I get to travel quite a bit for essentially nothing.  I've been to Walt Disney World about 10 times and only paid for admission into any the parks once.

These are two stories where I was somewhat of a douchebag to other Disney guests; once was intentional and the other was not.

The first (intentional) one happened when I was much in my early 20's.  I was young enough that the students in the program still thought of me as one of their peers and not as a chaperone or authority figure of any kind.  I had spent the day with a half dozen or so of the members of the choir and we all decided we wanted to watch the nightly electric light parade at Magic Kingdom.  We stopped and got some ice cream at the shop on main street and went to find prime seating right on the square.  We got there probably an hour before the parade started to get a spot exactly where we wanted.

About five minutes before the parade begins this couple with two kids in tow forces their way between us and instructs their kids to sit down right in front of us in the street. The dad was alternating between standing and half squatting the entire time so he's majorly blocking our view. As politely as possible I said to the dad, "Excuse me, sir, but we got here over an hour ago to get these seats and now you're blocking our view.  You're welcome to stand behind us and your kids can sit here in front of us."

He replied in a very definitive NE U.S.A. accent (Boston, NY, NJ, CT...who knows), "You're too old for Disney and I'm not leaving my kids up there unattended." And with that he turned around and started to get out his giant 90's camcorder to tape the parade. I turned to my friends and said, "We're gonna make sure they can never watch that tape with their kids."

When the parade started we stood up (because we had to in order see thanks to mister east coast) and got as close as we could to the microphone on his camcorder.  We discussed the parade like we were Willard Scott on Thanksgiving morning with one exception...we used every curse word in our arsenal non-stop. 

"Oh wow look at that f-ing float. Have you ever seen so many f-ing lights before? Holy $%@# that dancer was really getting down. Oh eff, that is the most amazing f-ing thing I've ever seen."

The dad shot us a few perturbed looks and eventually asked us to pipe down. I just smiled and said, "You could always move!" They eventually packed up and moved to a different spot.

The second (unintentional) one happened on a much more recent trip. The newest attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios was the Toy Story Mania. It's an interactive ride where you have a gun attached to the front of your car and you go through various exhibits firing virtual cream pies, water balloons, lazers, etc at targets.  It was very popular and according to the Disney staff we spoke to they said the best bet for getting to ride it without a huge wait was to get to the park before it opened and book it straight to that ride.

So, that is exactly what we did.  Just as we arrived at the entrance to the ride this older guy tried to sprint past us and shoulder his way in front of my group.  I stepped in front of him and blocked his path so he had to get in line just behind us. The whole time were winding our way toward the ride our group was loudly commenting on the "nerve of some people trying to cut in front of us" etc. 

When we were almost to the actual ride the lady in front of us with two small kids whipped around and said, "Would you like to go in front us?" I was a bit confused and just said, ""  She said, "I really think you should. In fact, I INSIST!"

We traded spots with them in the line when suddenly it dawned on me...she thought we were talking about them. I turned around and said, "Uh, ma'am, excuse me. I hope you don't think we were talking about you before.  We were trying to give a hard time to the people in line behind you that tried to bump us out of the way to get in line in front of us."

A look of complete relief washed over her face and she said, "Oh my God I'm so sorry. I did think you were talking about us. You see just yesterday a couple of adults literally pushed my 8-year old daughter out of the way to get in line in front of us for an attraction that had a 20 minute wait. I'm just a little oversensitive because of that I guess."

I offered to trade them their spot back, but she refused. I felt like kind of a heel, but it all ended well in the end.

Have you ever accidentally been a douchebag before? It's not nearly as much fun as doing it on purpose.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's About Time!

Wow...I haven't posted here in almost six months.  You can thank the crazy busy show choir competition season for keeping me so occupied that I never have the time nor motivation to fill everyone in on my life.  I guess I also think the mundane details of my existence would bore everyone to tears. 

Anyway, here is a quick update on what's happened in the last six months.  The show choirs I help direct had a mostly successful competition season.  We capped it off with a trip to Los Angeles to compete in an event hosted by Burbank High School. I got to help chaperone 130 teenagers through all of the touristy stuff in the L.A. area. Here's a quick list of stuff we did:

  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Hollywood Bus Tour
  • La Brea Tar Pits
  • Getty Museum
  • California Science Center and Exposition Park
  • Sony Studios Tour
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
  • Universal City Walk
  • Santa Monica Beach and Pier
  • Disneyland

We keep  'em busy so they're tuckered out at the end of the day and stay quiet in their hotel rooms.  Honestly we don't have to worry much about them. They're very good kids and everyone we worked with in California from the bus drivers to the tour directors commented on how polite and well behaved they were. One of their assignments whenever we travel is to thank at least 20 people who help them out each day even if it's just a stranger that holds the door for them.

My wife is a few short days away from graduating from college with degrees in history and education with an endorsement in all of the social science classes (economics, government, history, psychology, cultural issues, etc.) She has to take her Praxis exam in May, but once that is done she is a full fledged and licensed teacher in the state of Iowa fulfilling a life long dream.  She's applied for about a dozen open teaching positions in our area for next fall and God willing she will be employed and bringing in regular income for the first time since her kidney transplant in 2005.

All of my time is currently being spent accompanying for rehearsals of the spring musical at our school. Performances are this coming Friday and Saturday.  I just have to survive a week of hellish four and five hour tech and dress rehearsals and then I'm free until August when show choir fires back up for the 2014-2015 school year.

On the gambling front I've played a little poker here and there this year, but nothing noteworthy.  A few winning sessions and a few losing sessions.  I'm just a recreational player, so I don't keep meticulous records.  If I had to guess I'd bet I'm slightly better than break even for the year.  My oldest son turned 21, so now he accompanies me to the casino when he's home and doesn't have other plans.  I usually spot him a buy-in for blackjack or poker and then he and I split whatever profits we have from the night evenly.  We try to avoid getting seated together when playing poker so we don't have to worry about even the hint of collusion or soft play.

The most notable gambling story occurred on one of his very first trips to the casino. We were playing blackjack and I got dealt two aces. I split them and the dealer dropped an eight on the first ace and then another ace on the second one. I indicated I'd like to split them again and the dealer informed me that you can only split aces once. Now I used to play a lot of blackjack at this casino before I really got into poker and you used to be able to split aces up to four times.  I asked the dealer to call over the floor so I could ask when this rule changed and why. (I know why it changed...because it's more advantageous to the house.  I wanted to hear what kind of spin the pit boss tried to put on it.) 

He gave me some song and dance about wanting to unify the rules for splitting aces across all of their different blackjack variations to make it less confusing for the players when they can or can't split them. I replied, "So it wasn't because it increases the house edge on the game?" He looked confused and said, "No, that's not the way it was explained to me."  I just said, "Uh huh...sure...I'm positive that never factored into the decision. I'll be coloring up and cashing out after this hand."  My son and I were both up about $60-$70 at that point.  Not big money, but still we were on a pretty good run, so the floor looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Is there a problem, sir?"  I just said, "I don't like that you keep changing the rules to increase the house edge, so I'm voting with my gambling dollars by not playing."

My son was kind of bummed and not ready to leave yet, so he talked me into playing some Three Card Poker. We sat down, bought $100 in red chips each and I placed one $5 chip on the Ante space and one $5 chip on the Pairs Plus space.  They dealt out the first hand and I'll be damned if I didn't look down at the Q-J-10 of diamonds. I double-checked it to make sure I wasn't wrong about the suit and sure enough I had hit a straight flush on the very first hand. I put another $5 chip on top of my cards and smugly folded my arms and sat back in my chair. My son said, "Did you like your hand?" I replied nonchalantly, "Eh...I just won about $250 on that hand." He blinked and responded, "Wait, what?!?!? You won how much?"

About an hour later he also hit a straight flush so we wound up cashing out about $550 profit after about 90 minutes of play.  Add to that the approximately $120 in profit from the blackjack and it wasn't a bad night.  We grabbed a pie and some breadsticks on the way home from our favorite late night pizzeria and went to bed with full bellies and pockets.  He talked me into playing Three Card Poker again the weekend after that and we both dumped about $100 in less than an hour. It was brutal. I think I won maybe two hands that entire session.

Once the musical wraps this weekend I'll have a lot more free time, so hopefully I'll get into some more gambling shenanigans I can share here.