Chapter Three: What We Need
Our check in was slow and painful. Not unlike watching Barack Obama struggle to answer a question without the benefit of a teleprompter. And after several minutes, I received some unsettling news: we were assigned a room on the sixth floor. For those of you who haven’t studied the floor plan of the CR, the sixth floor is the lowest level of rooms on the MK side of the building. It is right over the Monorail. It’s the equivalent of getting stuck in a middle seat on an airplane. It’s like getting seated in the back row on Soarin. It’s like getting a room in the Herbie the Love Bug section of the Allstarssomethinornuther. It’s a lousy location.
All the guy said was that our room was on the sixth floor. What I heard was, “none of your requests have been granted. You’re in the worst room we could give you. You suck! Your family sucks. Alabama sucks (perhaps it does if South Carolina’s beat down was any indication). All of your well made plans are destroyed! Your ENTIRE vacation is now ruined!!!"
Or so I thought.
I worked with a manager for quite some time to find a solution because the ZZUBs were NOT going to spend a week on the sixth floor. Like idiots. NOpeopleinCaliforniawhovoteforJerryBrown. But the CR was sold out and (if you can believe it), it was pretty late in the day. There were no other rooms higher up on the MK side of the building. The best solution she offered was to let us move the next day. She even offered to let us keep our room until the new room was available. Promised me even that the transition would be seamless.
Out of options and tired of standing there, I agreed to go take a look at the room. Almost as an aside, she said, “if you do end up deciding to keep your room, just call back and let me know.” I looked at her and thought, “what kind of crack are you smoking?” She looked back at me and thought, “For a guy wearing puka shells, you’re not very relaxed, dude.”
I went to break the bad news to the girls. Not only were we stuck on the sixth floor, but there’d be no unpacking and getting sitched tonight. We’ll have to figure out what we needed and just leave our bags packed until we move tomorrow. For us, unpacking and getting sitched is the quintessential first day experience.
I’m not proud of this, but I was full on deflated. This wasn’t how I wanted to start our Disney trip.
And then an amazing thing happened.
We opened the door to our room and walked through it to our balcony. It occurs to me that we walked straight to it. And there we saw this.
And there wasn’t a thing wrong with the view. Not a thing which could be improved upon by five flights. Trust me. I confirmed this the next day.
Why did I think we needed to be higher up? Why did I think this wasn’t good enough? We walked around the room and kept going back out on the balcony and we were talking around whether the room would work for us or not. I was realizing that I’d believed higher was better for no reason at all. We were in Disney World for crying out loud!. We were in the freakin Contemporary Resort with a room facing the Magic Kingdom! Being 50 feet higher up wasn’t going to make that big a difference! I was so disappointed with myself. For several minutes I’d allowed myself to be one of those idiots, the people whose expectations are unrealistic. Worse still, my expectations were also flat out wrong.
We prayed all summer for our trip. Our countdown chain had prayer requests written on it. So each night when we pulled a chain off, there was a request to pray for. Safe flights. No one gets sick. Make good memories. It was a good way to cover our trip in prayer as we counted down the days in anticipation.
One of my prayer requests was that we’d get the room we were supposed to have.
Which is, in fact, what happened. Even if I was too daft to recognize that. I thought it had to be higher up. But as I stared back at the Castle, I realized that we could move higher up and get still end up stuck next to a loud family. Or get a room with an adjoining door. Or have neighbors who improperly use their balcony for an ashtray. Maybe our room wasn’t higher up. But it was where we were supposed to be and better is one day in His house than a thousand elsewhere. If I may re-interpret a verse.
I was nervously pacing through the room, barely conscious of the fact the girls were jumping on the beds and talking nonstop. I decided we should just stay put.
And as I was making this decision, Mrs. Z was noticing the place was filthy. With a capital Ph! There was a good layer of dust on the furniture. That’s actually an understatement. The room was to clean what Barbara Boxer is to intelligent. What Joy Behar is to reasonable. What Brett Favre is to discreet. What Tiger Woods is to monogamous. What Frickles is to math.
The CR rooms have opaque glass doors to the bathroom. There was a greasy hand print that ran almost the entire length of the glass. Which led to some discussion about what went on in there. In the room itself, there was a hand print on the mirror and the doors to the balcony hadn’t been cleaned since before Jimmy Carter began his “superior to the others” post-presidency.
In other words, the typical Disney World housekeeping issues. But Mrs. Z was in the bathroom and she spotted something FAR WORSE. Worse than another two years of a Democratically controlled Congress. Worse than the words, "President Palin." Worse than Georgia’s football team even.
There was something brown sitting on the toilet seat.
Daring us to do something.
Mrs. Z was grossed out, disgusted and maybe a touch mortified.
But not touched by the mortified, thankfully.
Not me. Oh sure, I was annoyed as all get out, wondered whether the room had been cleaned at all. But in that moment, a preternatural calm had come over me. I figured the brown was at least near where it was supposed to be. It wasn’t like we found a little piece of brown on the phone.
Still. This was an issue which needed to be addressed. I know from experience not to call the “front desk” from your room. Because you won’t get the front desk at all. So I walked down to the front desk to talk with a manager about getting our room cleaned. I also wanted to let her know that despite the general state of disrepair, we thought the location was fine. The irony wasn’t lost on me either.
The manager was insanely nice about the problem and offered to send up housekeeping immediately. To VIP clean the room. Like that would impress me. She also offered to give me a credit on our room. Without my asking for it or implying we’d be expecting it. I thought was a nice touch. Not the credit, frankly, that was the least they could do. I appreciated that she offered it without my asking.
I told her we were heading out for dinner and we’d be back in an hour or so and would expect to have our room cleaned while we were gone. She assured me that wouldn’t be a problem.
And it wasn’t. We took the boat over to Ft. Wilderness for some dinner at Trails End. We like it there. The food is reasonably good and they have sweet tea. Plus it just flat out feels like Disney World. The ride on the boat was pleasant and as we rode we comforted ourselves that we were in the right room. It would be cleaned and as a result of the brown on the seat, it was REALLY going to be cleaned and a clean room is more important than anything, right?
Dinner was fine but it wasn't spectacular. The food underwhelmed a bit although we loved us some sweet tea. In many ways, the night reminded me of a dinner in Chef Mickey's four years earlier. The thing which was worrying me was vastly insignificant by comparison. But it still felt like we were going through the motions.
By the time we were done with dinner we were ready to get back into our room and get unpacked and get sitched.
And there it was. Finally, on the boat ride back to our resort, I finally started to feel like it was our first night at Disney World.
And all that was good. The sweet tea at Trails End, the evening boat ride on the lake. Finding a spotlessly clean room when we returned. The fun that is unpacking in your hotel room. Being so glad to be back at the Contemporary again. Watching the new fireworks show on the balcony.
All of that was good.
But you know what was great?
I woke up early the next morning. Insanely early. Even for me. It was 5:00 when I woke up. Pitch dark outside. Too dark to sit on the balcony for some Bible study time. So I got dressed, brushed my teeth, grabbed my camera and my Bible and went in search of a well lit, but quiet place to spend some time with the Lord.
There’s a large lobby area on the 2d floor of the CR by the meeting rooms. I walked all the way down towards the far end, found myself a couch and spent some time hanging out with God, praising Him for bringing us back there.
At the Contemporary, I’m just a 12 year old kid who can’t believe I’m getting to sit on a couch and read the Bible.
It was still silly dark when I finished praying but I figured the sun would come up soon and I could score some sweet sunrise over Bay Lake pictures. But it was not to be. The sun wasn’t working on ZZUB’s schedule.
Instead, I got to creep around the CR. In the quiet. In the stillness. Just enjoying the solitude. The time. Alone.
We don’t get that in Disney World very much. When it happens, you should enjoy it.
The coffee spilled down the side when I put the lid on. As usual. And after I’d wiped it off, I headed up two flights to our room. To eat some Pop Tarts and start getting everyone else up for our first day.
Mrs. Z got up and began getting ready and as she did, she realized her eye was now well enough to wear her contacts again. No wearing her glasses. No squinting in the sun. At the exact moment she needed it, she was able to put in her contact lenses.
Right on time.
And so our vacation began.