Amber Earns Her Ears

About the Column

Amber Sewell is 'earning her ears' at Disney World from the ground-up: her first experience as a Cast Member was her participation last year in Disney's CareerStart Program. Maybe you saw her at EPCOT's Electric Umbrella? If not, you'll be 'seeing' a lot of her on Disney Dispatch as she shares her stories about what it's like to be young and working for the Mouse. Amber's stories are fun, fascinating, and plain ol' fantastic. And maybe, just maybe, they'll put you on the road to earning your ears, too.

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FROM: Amber Earns Her Ears Published Mondays

It Finally Happened!

Amber and her roommates fail inspection and face the repercussions of a messy, dirty apartment.

The Disney College Program is a competitive, paid internship open to college students who want to spend a semester at either Disneyland or Disney World working, learning, and possibly laying the foundation for a Disney career.

After a successful stint in Disney's CareerStart Program, Amber Sewell began work in May 2011 at Disney World as part of the College Program. We'll follow her adventures every week right here...

It has finally happened. The inevitable has come to pass. We have failed inspections.
After my cleaning boycott, when I decided I was going to quit cleaning up things that weren't mine, I knew this day would come. Inspections were coming up; I knew they were. But I wasn't going to touch anything but my half of the bedroom and our bathroom. I managed to scrub everything in the bathroom a few days before, and came home the night before inspections and cleaned everything that had cluttered my room before falling asleep.

I woke up the next morning to the sound of a whistle in the living room. The maintenance people had come early in the morning to install new faucets and showerheads – more eco-friendly faucets. I fell back asleep rather quickly, only to be woken up what felt like a few minutes later to people knocking on the bedroom door, and the clicking of a camera taking pictures of the illegal posters my roommate and I have on our walls. I feigned sleep, as I honestly did not feel like dealing with these people who were storming in and out of everyone's rooms, taking pictures and speaking in code, like we weren't allowed to know just how poor a state our apartment was really in until the last moment.

After I'd dozed off for a bit, I heard them explaining something to Jordan, who sounded rather terse in her replies. Lindsey and I looked at each other a little warily, because we knew something was amiss. After about ten minutes of preparing ourselves, we walked out to see that we had failed inspections. And not just half-heartedly. No, we really failed. Everyone's bathroom failed but ours, the kitchen failed, the floors failed, the bedrooms all failed. The patio passed, and that was about it. Jordan stormed around on the phone, ranting about how ridiculous it was – ridiculous that we had to pay a cleaning crew $25 to come and clean the apartment, ridiculous that we had failed, ridiculous that they had taken pictures of everything – while the rest just didn't care. And I have to admit, I wasn't too entirely fussed about failing either; though I was upset at the $25 cleaning fee, which is now, like, a quarter of my paycheck.
Part of failing the inspection is that, as a result, you have to undergo a second inspection a week later. Ours is approaching, and the apartment is back in the state it was prior to the first. The floors are a mess, there are more fast-food wrappers on the living room table, and I can't be bothered to wash my dishes because that means finding a place to put all the dirty dishes that are piled in both sinks. If we fail this one, we have to have a meeting, though I hope it won't come to that. The day before I'll clean my own room again, maybe actually take out a vacuum from the front desk, make sure the kitchen floor is at least swept. We'll see how it goes.

I picked up a shift at the Emporium last Friday. Not only am I only getting 33 hours a week, but the Emporium was my requested work location when I interviewed for the College Program. A few days before the shift, which was from 7.30-4.00, I went to scope out the place. I made my way through the tunnels, came up on the wrong side of Main Street, and asked two older women where I would have to clock in and such. They told me to look for staircase 19, and I ventured back into the tunnels. It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be, and I made my way to the costuming building to pick up my lovely floor-length, brown and blue plaid skirt, cream, puffy sleeved shirt with a lace collar, and a rather stifling tie that didn't adjust. It didn't actually look half-bad, although something on the inside of the collar chafed against my neck all throughout my shift.

The night before my eight and half hour shift, my roommates – namely, Christina, as per usual – decided that it was another night to scream for hours. And hours. As I was lying in bed, trying to sleep, I listened as four of my roommates, as well as three other people I only vaguely knew, conversed loudly in the living room. I was so thoroughly angered by lack of common decency, I thought I was going to reach my breaking point, but didn't. I know I'll have to say something next time, though; there are only so many nights that I can stand to be kept awake for hours on end when I have to work the next day.

By the time my alarm went off to get up, Lindsey was just walking in from the meeting in the living room. As I got up groggily, she got to crawl in bed for the night.
It was an unexpectedly cool day, and I was wishing I had put on leggings under my skirt as I waited at the bus stop. The A bus arrived, and I listened to my iPod, more alert than I had expected. At the Emporium, I found the lockers and the CDS without problem, and settled in the break room to wait out the extra thirty minutes that I had given myself in case I encountered any problems. When it came time to clock in, I found a coordinator in the office who explained everything about the Emporium. The morning was fairly slow, but I was rather enjoying the atmosphere of Magic Kingdom. Christmas music was playing (not that I'm a huge fan of Christmas music, but it went well with the decorations), everyone was cheerful, and quite willing to answer any questions that I had. When I came back from my first break, I ran into Taylor, a coordinator from my area in EPCOT. That was quite unexpected, but apparently he picks up shifts whenever he can there.

The shift went by at a steady pace, and I really enjoyed all of it. I chatted with a leader who gave me a GSF at the end of my shift (a great service fanatic card), acknowledging my willingness to learn and my eagerness to be in a new environment. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for any shifts there in the future.

There was a bit of excitement after my shift at the Emporium; some of the girls that I had met at my camp out for the Harry Potter premiere in New York City were in town for the convention at Wizarding World. We were supposed to meet up at City Walk to watch The Chamber of Secrets in theatre, but at the end of my shift they texted me that some stars from the film were meeting at a local Wal*Mart (?) to sign autographs. I immediately regretted my good decision to not drive to work, and was anxious the entire bus ride home. I quickly changed and sped to the Wal*Mart. After two hours in line, we were screamed at by a manager that there was absolutely NO WAY we were going to make it in the line to get autographs, so I and the people I was waiting with snuck around, took a few pictures, and threw in the towel. I'll try again next year at the convention in Chicago.

Work has seen a bit of excitement, as well. I was working a shift at Gift Stop, probably the slowest store in EPCOT. It's the one at the very beginning of the park, outside the gates, where you pick up your packages. The night had been crawling by, when all of a sudden some little kid starts bawling. He had tripped over something and bashed his head on a ledge thing, and it had swollen up a bit to the size of a ping pong ball. I wasn't quite sure what to do, but one of the guys in package pickup had me call 911 and wait with the boy. He was six years old and rather annoying, for all that he had just hit his head. The mother had a panic attack while the paramedics were there, the kid refused to keep the ice on his head, and the paramedics were getting fed up with both of them.

Later, at my shift at the Seas, a Guest ran into the store and told us that a kid was bleeding in the shark room, where there is the play set with the giant Bruce. One of the girls I was working with had absolutely no idea what to do, and the other was already faint at the sound of blood. She held the phone in her hand, without knowing who to call. Thankfully, after the stint at Gift Stop, I knew what to do. My experience with emergencies at the animal clinic kicked in, and I had her call 911 while I went to get information from the Guests. I got the kid's name, age, what had happened, whether or not he had lost consciousness at any point… I found the mother in the floor with the boy in her lap. He was three years old, and the baby wipe that the mother was holding to his head was already quite bloody. I got the information and went back to the register to call a manager, and when they arrived, the paramedics shortly after, I stayed in the shop while the crowd of Cast Members gathered around the family. After all the drama was over, the manager for our area came over to give me a GSF for a calm and effective response in an emergency, which honestly made me feel quite good.

Both of the boys were okay, by the way.

The rest of the week looks to be interesting. I've got the concert, a group breakfast with co-workers, among other things. Questions? Feel free to ask!



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