Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gratitude...I need to have more of it.

Last week I wrote about my friend Sandy and her blog, Sandy and the 1000 Paper Cranes - she had placed a crane in a place that was very special to me and I decided to write about the word on that crane, "lighthearted". But it just so happened that Sandy placed a second crane in another place that was important to me. Maybe not "special", per se, but it is a place where I learned a lot. That crane had the word "gratitude" on it and she placed it and she placed it at the Pizzafari restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

You see, I've never really had a terrible job, but if I were to list off every single one I've ever had from best to worst, Pizzafari would have to be at the bottom of the list. I admittedly complained a lot - too much - about working at Pirates. Because yeah, it was boring at times. And when I had 10-12 hour shifts and spent next to none of it in the Tower (the one position that allowed sitting), my feet would hurt. A lot. And honestly, it was a bit disappointing that only one of my fellow Pirates cast members was a CP.

But looking back, I have a lot of fond memories from that experience - some of the fondest being from crazy 12-14 hour shifts, back-breaking parade duties like clipping and rolling, and getting to know some great full-time cast members.

Of Pizzafari, though, I can't say that I really have "fond memories". So it may surprise you to hear that despite not having memories like that, I have an immense amount of gratitude for the time I spent working food prep and counter service detail at this quick service restaurant.

Even if the costumes were horrendous.
Seriously. (There was also a hat, but I never could find one that fit my giant head, & I mean that literally, not figuratively)
Not being able to fit the required cloth hat on my head meant I had to wear this paper thing - but trust me when I say that it could have been worse.
Pizzafari - and working there - taught me about food. Yes, I know it was only a quick service restaurant, but it taught me that the strangest combinations can be the most delicious. Like ham, turkey, provolone, swiss, tomatoes, pesto, romaine lettuce and caesar dressing on muffaletta bread. And that adding sugar to marinara sauce really gives it that extra OOMPH. I never cared much about cooking and was extremely picky, but working here helped me to brush off my fear of trying new foods and combinations and I will forever be grateful for that.

I also learned that your bosses truly make or break your work environment. There were very few truly likeable managers at Pirates, but at Pizzafari they were great. Helpful, caring, understanding. Working in quick service foods (at Disney or anywhere) is not a glorious job, and these managers really seemed to understand that and they did what they could to make it better.

And for the first time in my life, I truly understood the value of hard work. Yes, I'd worked long shifts and spent a lot of time on my feet at Pirates - but this was an entirely different animal. Standing in front of ovens blasting hundreds of degrees of heat for hours at a time. Working drinks back during lunch rush and literally filling dozens of sticky, cold sodas every minute. Scouring every stainless steel surface in an industrial sized kitchen when the day was done.

It was that learned respect for food, for good managers, and for hard work that pushed me to finish school and then risk everything - my career life, my marriage, and most of my savings - to return to Disney years later and do some good. Even though I eventually moved on, managing at Sunset in MGM was the best work experience I've ever had (because of both the positive and negative things that happened)...and without Pizzafari, I never would have even considered applying for a restaurant management position at Disney.

So in retrospect, it would be really difficult for and silly of me to not feel this immense amount of gratitude for a job that in and of itself, I didn't love. Pin It

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