Monday, January 24, 2011

Slave Labor and Tender Mercies

Remember all that excitement you read about last week? Well all those delusions sprinkled with pixie dust blew away with a quick burst of wind when ! Let me tell you the TRUTH about being a housekeeper. Due to housekeeping's physically and mentally challenging nature, I literally wake up multiple times at night because of nightmares. Housekeeper after housekeeper kept informing me of their shock because I didn't not cry during training. Apparently, that is considered normal, even for the matured women. With pride I inform my readers that I, Jacqueline Ryan Peck, did not shed one tear; however, if I am being honest (which I try to always be), I was debating whether I should jump of my little ledge of wavering sanity and dive into the pit of despair and surrender to defeat. While cleaning the rooms, I plotted my escape route instead of whistling a happy tune like I was taught. I searched for any signs of an underground railroad that would lead me back to the comfort and warmth of home. Perhaps it would even come with a brave guide! As pessimistic as this beginning may seem, I come bearing a message of glad tidings and joy!

*My fellow Cast Members (Cast Members=Disney's cute way of saying employees)*

Roselie, my Haitian trainer, can make beds so fast, I freak! She is a tough gal with a quirky sense of humor, made more quirky by her thick accent. Needless to say, we clicked. Well...we clicked as much as the extreme language barrier and age difference would allow. Basically I follow her around all day like a little duckling. As we walk around, she points to people and says "dey's trouble, right Jack-lean?" I say "oh dey's trouble alright!". Or she redirects my cleaning tactics, sometimes telling me to not work so hard. And that summarizes most of our conversations.

Pam. Pam is the woman who runs the cast learning center. She looks like Barbra Streisand and sounds like the Nanny. But I love her. I go to the cast learning center for the last half hour of my shift and read and she always has a motivational speech or funny story about a dumb person. Oh how it feels like home to mock! Anyways, she is my favorite/only person I really talk to all day long.
which brings me to..

All my other Cast members. They are older woman from either Haiti or the Dominican Republic..which means, they are usually speaking in Creole or Spanish. By usually I mean about 97% of the time. Good thing I bought into the whole "Spanish will help you a ton in life" thing and took it all through out high school..oh wait, I didn't. Not only do I stick out, I can't compute any of the conversations around me. BORING. I am minority. Positive side: my reading time has exponentially increased since I cross the border every day for work.

*While I was Feeling Bad for Myself*
Slowly I started to let the whole "poor-me-Eeyore" routine of thoughts play in their natural downward spiral. But as soon as I would start to feel down, someone or something came to pick me right back up. Often in was inspirational talks given to myself about how I can do hard things and I focus on all the positives. These proved very effective. Other times, when I need extra help, it came in form of a person. Particularly a old man and a little girl. Roger (the old man) approached me in the cafeteria and sat with me all through lunch. (I definitely suffer through New girl syndrome and sit by myself). In mid-conversation, he told me I was beautiful and that he could tell how intelligent I was by looking in my eyes. He then said many words of encouragement that hit spot on the worries and doubts I was having only minutes before. This random act of kindness was then followed by a few minutes of reassurance that he was not hitting on me. Thank you cute old man for beaming sunshine into my day when most needed!
However, my favorite blessing was a little seven-year-old. Amanda timidly asked me for a linen bag and while I was searching for the object, she sweetly said "you're pretty." Instantly, I loved that little girl! I told her she was a pretty little princess and she returned to her room. Later, she came back and asked for my help naming her new stuffed rabbit. We decided on the name Cupcake and she left for the parks. While cleaning her room, I noticed the small rabbit and decided to leave a note welcoming Princess Amanda back "from" Cupcake. Her dad later tracked me down and gave me a warm thank you and a tip! That was the moment I fell in love with my job.

By the end of my training, my trainer told me that in all of her 11 years, no one had caught on and been as fast as I did. I passed. It is quite the reward to work your butt off by giving your best effort and then be recognized. I determined to take this resort by storm!

*Lessons I Learned This Week*
1. Stay and school and get a good job. I know this seems elementary but..many of the women here have no other ways to support their families. They are single mothers and just struggling to survive. I am not ignorant of the tragedies that are abundant in this world, but it is different when bitter stories surround you everyday. Their strength and hard work inspires me.

2. My duties might lack the luster of other positions in the company but hey, Cinderella started off exactly where I am. I decided long ago to love my job and that has become a reality. I sing and dance while cleaning the rooms now. My showcase includes works that vary from Hilliary Duff to Tom Petty to Bow Wow and everything in between. Such talent should not be locked away in a hotel room but at least the towel creatures I create can appreciate my musical spectacular! Can't wait for the day a guest walks in..

3. Sunday is a special day. Nothing makes you appreciate church like not being able to go. My testimony of keeping the Sabbath day holy has grown so much since being in Orlando. I can't worm myself out of work, but what I can do is have Sunday in my heart throughout the day. I bring materials to read during work and listen to church music. The extra effort I put in to make it feel like a Sunday brought an extra Spirit to my day: "Vibrant testimony comes of anxious seeking"-President Gordon B. Hinckley.

4. Take any illusions you may have about Florida being a warm getaway and shatter them with a sledgehammer. On many occasions I have found myself freezing. I even saw my breath the other day and that just fueled my anger towards those who deceived me about the weather here! bah.

5. and finally, my new life motto: just say yes! besides to drugs. This new perspective has been life changing and has led me to many spontaneous adventures. Including, but not limited to, jumping into pools with my clothes on, bible study groups, lots of new friends, and dancing through Morocco. Living life to the fullest!

That's all for now folks! Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Grand Adventure: The Begining

*Quick explanation of my title*: A great injustice was thrust upon me at birth when my parents ruled that giving me a middle name was unnecessary. Feeling a lack of something in my life, I searched for many years to fill the void by trying on various middle names. I have a brief fling with the name "Jacqueline Zia" and then later flirted with the name "Jacqueline Lynn". This was obviously more of a comical relationship that I continue to have one-nighters with when I feel the need to fool those around me. But the most enduring relationship has been with the name, "Jacqueline Ryan." This name, to me at least, connotates elegance and has a classic air about it just like Jacqueline Kennedy and Doris Day. So. This is the name that I have chosen for my blog.

*The Wonderful World of Walt Disney*

With a big gust of courage pushing behind me, I packed my bags and boarded my flight to Orlando, Florida. Mysterious forces pulled me towards Orlando, tearing me away from my beloved friends and family. Concerns, worries, and fears swirled around my brain. However real these insecurities felt, I knew that the yearning inside for self-discovery needed this adventure to the south tropics. Disney had practically begged me to come join their team (they had heard all sorts of rumors of my hard work ethic and positive attitude in the work place)! And I have always stuggled saying no..

Sitting down on the plane, images of the people I was leaving behind taunted me. No longer could I run into Cold Stone and grap a spoonful of Sweet Cream while exploring life's deepest corners with my sister. No longer could I visit my dad on Sunday nights just to feel the pleasentness of being home. Despite my sadness of leaving behind my home, I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride in my adultness. I was now a master of the complicated forces of terminals, tickets, and baggage drop-offs...a skill only the most intelligent can begin to comprehend. I boarded that plane..LIKE A BOSS!

I learned a very interesting thing flying on Southwest: nothing bonds two people like sitting on an airplane together. Maybe it is the awkwardness of sitting by someone for such a large amount of time? Maybe it is fear of flying? Whatever the reason, I made many friends on the plane. My first friend was Monet. I just instantly wanted to be her friend because she was so excited about everything (not in an annoying fake way but more of an Ariel on land for the first time way). What we later name our "bite-sized friendship" soon ended as she got off in Denver. But I will always remember Monet and her love of life. The second friendship I formed was with a law professor at a small Catholic school in Orlando. We also became instant friends and talked the entire three and a half hour flight. The subjects ranged from religion to sex offenders to parenting and then to divorce. I was inspired by this also brief friendship because she was such a capable, educated woman who still was an amazing mother. Cheers to brief meetings that change lives!

After arrival in not-so-sunny Orlando, I had the arduous task of lifting 120 lbs. of luggage, WITH NO WHEELS, all over the airport, on and off shuttles, in circles around apartment complexes, and up three stories of stairs. I can assure you that I felt the pain for the next few days. Despite my struggles carrying the weight of my bags, I packed exceedingly light and am suffering through seperation anxiety for numerous articles of clothing.

The rest of my week can be sumarized in answering and asking the same three questions repetitively: what is your name? where are you from? and finally, where in the parks are you working? I have never really been considered normal...due to my love of making strange faces and my quirky humor and partially due to the fact I collet dictators. But I have never, no never, been so odd in my whole life. When people find out you are from Utah, they proceed to tell you about how they know someone from Utah and they never party. Then they elaborate on how strange that person is. While they express their shock at Utah culture, I squirm uncomfortably as the thought "I haven't touched a drop" plays over and over in my head. If people do ask if you are Mormon, they ask questions they did not teach me how to answer in all my "every memeber a missionary" classes. Such as, "is being a Mormon a big deal?" it to me? (yes I really did say that..) or "what do Mormons believe about aliens?" (yes, I was really asked that).

Diversity. The people that work at WDW come from ALL over the United States, even the states you have forgotten about, like Wisconsin (pronounced wis-CAN-sin). Not only does WDW have equal representation from America, there are people from all over the world. The perfect spot for a girl who loves foriegn men!

The single greatest part about being here in Orlando is, well after the fact that it is a snow free environment (!), the magic. After listening to hours of Disney propaganda, I finally bought into it. I create the magic! But what magic can you create while stuck in the glamourless position of housekeeper? Listen here and I will tell you. While sitting through "Housekeeper Core Training" the gloryless job of maid was transformed before my eyes with a snap of Mary Poppins fingers, as she explained that once you find the fun in a job, it becomes a game. The lessons about how to make beds and clean the bathroom seemed to be sprinkled with pixie dust and I was so excited to begin! Bring it on baby! "I make da beds! I make da magic!" seemed to be playing over and over again in my head. I would now like to take the time to list the perks of being a housekeeper:
1-You burn like a million calories
2-You get to keep unopened food left in the rooms
3-Super sexy, hot, scandalous uniform
4-You get tips...oh baby..
5-You get nights off.
Yep. You could say that I am pretty darn excited.
That's all for now folks!