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A Modest Response
Written on 2001-11-08, at 10:02 a.m.
I just wanted to share with everyone this wonderful entry I got in my guestbook this morning...It's from the employee who was fired for carving his adoration for me into a watermelon.
Here it is.

I didn't greatly dislike you before I read your pompous little diatribe. I was fired, not by you, but I didn't care because I wanted to quit - I just couldn't justify quitting because of your lack of professionalism. I'm not perfect either, but I do my job and I don't lie to myself about the quality of the work I'm doing. All I expect from anyone else is that they do the same. You might think you did the same but you couldn't even remember the disparity in your actions because they didn't affect you. That would've been fine if you weren't responsible for/to twenty different people that depended on your consistent, professional behavior. Did you fear me? Is that why you relish the fact that I was terminated? If you held a rational conversation with me, tried to determine why I wrote what I did, do you think I would have hit you? And if you do, why did you, who so revels in retaliation, not approach me so that you could afterwards press charges and ruin my life? Wouldn't that have "gotten me back"? Fact is you could not handle the situation. I don't know why I wrote those words other than the fact that you were a suitable scapegoat for the misery that is working for Universal as the lowest form of upright mammal they employ. All complaints went unheard by the apathetic supervisors who "had our best interests in mind". However, they all paid attention when it was carved in your precious little watermelon, didn't they? No doubt you will quickly erase this from your guestbook, for it would be terrible to bear criticism, wouldn't it? Go ahead, I've had my say and I know that it will nag you to think that someone else has seen a kernel of the truth behind your pretentious facade. Maybe I'm wrong. If you feel that you can enlighten me, you know where to write.

posted from 209.244.150.7


Now, before I begin dissecting this soapbox spiel, I'd like to let everyone know the reason as to his extreme dislike.

15 minutes.

Yes folks, that's it...15 minutes.

It was based on a call that I made to hold one of my casts 15 minutes during a changeout because a parade was going by.

And afterwards, we told them that the 45 minutes of off-set time was only going to be 30 for their next break.

This caused an incredible amount of griping, as well it should, because theme park performers are, well, spoiled.

And I can say that with total authority, as I've been with Walt Disney World Entertainment for over 6 years, and Universal for about half that.

The complaint was that 15 minutes was taken away from them, never again to be seen, flying far away to that place where disenfranchised amounts of time go to die.

Now, the two reasons I think these complaints are inane, and childish.

Assuming that the majority of you, the readers, have jobs, I pose this question.

How many of you have jobs where you work for 45 minutes, then take a 45 minute break, on a continuous cycle, for your entire shift?

Go ahead, check...I'll wait.

None?

Ok, well...that's the work day for a Horror Nights character.

45 on.

45 off.

Now granted, most of you don't have drunks taking pot shots at your face at work, but hey, everyone knew what they were getting into for this job.

So, taking a normal Saturday night, a performer will have:

3 hours, 45 minutes actual on-set, working time.

and...

4 hours, 15 minutes break/prep time.

Taking a look at that, it's quite difficult for one to, in good conscience, get irate about 15 minutes, when the entire off-set break time, subtracting the 30 minute lunch, is fully paid.

And the other reason is this...

I'm a certified Union Representitive, that's right, a card-carrying Teamster. Now, Universal does not have Union representation, so that has no bearing on this situation. What does have relevance is the fact that as a Union Rep., I know the Florida labor laws. Especially the ones dealing with hourly employees. Here's the part of the law dealing with hourly employee lunch/break times. It goes a little something like this:

"For each shift of six (6) to seven (7) hours, fifty-nine (59) minutes worked, the employee is entitled to one (1) thirty (30) minute lunch period (unpaid), and two (2) fifteen (15) minute break periods (paid). Furthermore, for shifts of eight (8) hours and upward, the employee is entitled to one (1) sixty (60) minute lunch period (unpaid), and two (2) fifteen (15) minute break periods (paid)."

Which everyone got plenty of.

But, technically, if we wanted to, we could work the cast on the street for six and a half full hours, giving them a half an hour lunch, two fifteen minute breaks, twenty-five minutes of prep time, and they could have no grounds for complaining because:

A) Universal has no Unions, and...

B) Florida is a right-to-work state, meaning that no one is required to join a union for a job. This means if you grumble, the employer has every legal right to simply fire, and replace you with no explanation. This isn't what happened in this situation, but it's totally within a company's legal rights in this state to do so.


Now, here's my response to the letter, and then we can all go home...

In entertainment, or in any type of team-oriented workplace, one negative attitude can become a cancer, growing, and taking over more and more until the entire unit becomes a lackadaisical, pessimistic, mess. In our cast, we had these attitudes in spades. This person was an excellent performer while on set, no ifs, ans, or buts about it. But the attitude backstage left quite a bit to be desired.

A job is what you make of it. If you want it to be fun, it will. If you look at it as a tedious, tiresome place, comparing yourself to "the lowest form of upright mammal they employ", then that's exactly what you'll be in your mind.

The call to cut the break time was one I made on own, and I stand totally behind it. I feel no guilt, or remorse about it, only shame that I actually assumed that my entire cast was mature, and professional enough to "roll with the punches", and understand that in a theme park/entertainment environment, things can change in a split second.

Though the majority of them did grasp that concept, others, sadly, did not.

"Did you fear me? Is that why you relish the fact that I was terminated? If you held a rational conversation with me, tried to determine why I wrote what I did, do you think I would have hit you? And if you do, why did you, who so revels in retaliation, not approach me so that you could afterwards press charges and ruin my life? Wouldn't that have "gotten me back"? Fact is you could not handle the situation"

Did I fear you? No, not at all. I've worked with far more ill-tempered, seemingly intimidating people like yourself in the past, and I'll work with many more in the future.

Did I relish the fact that you were terminated? Honestly, that's a split. I was disapointed that someone would let something so silly affect their employment, but at the same time, I'm a member of management, and what you did is called insubordination. So yes, I'm glad that that catalyst triggered that particular response.

Why did I not approach you? Well, all this was discovered long after the cast was gone, during our post-event meeting back in the offices. Though, had I found it sooner, I doubt that I would have approached you anyway, as all attempts to rationally explain my decision earlier in the evening were met with more griping, and sarcasm. Did I think you would hit me? Not at all, as I don't think you some prehistoric brute, incapable of controlling his emotions. That wasn't a fear of mine at all, but as stated, you were long gone by the time the evidence was discovered.

"Fact is you could not handle the situation."

Fact is, I was not allowed to be in the situation.

As a non-salaried employee, I'm not allowed to take place in the actual intervention of termination. You were approached by two members of the salaried management team, as per policy, explained the reasons as to why what was happening was happening, given the proper documentation, and escorted out.

I was not there to discuss it because:

A) I was directly involved, as the incident was targeted at me, and

B) As stated earlier, Coordinators cannot be involved with the actual termination itself, just the decision.

As to the charge that complaints fell onto apathetic ears, let me just say this.

You all could have had it much worse.

Our entire management team, and coordinator team have done this event in the past, and every one of them will tell you that our area, compared to the rest of the park, and compared to previous years, was a cake walk.

And finally, yes, you were right...I did erase the entry from my guestbook.

Nor for any feelings of guilt, or the need to hang my head in shame every time I saw it...

But it was just taking up too much room.

So, in a compromise, I now have it emblazoned on my diary, for all the world to see, as it's much more visible here than in a paltry little guestbook. I enjoy criticism, it makes me open up to how other people see me.

But if you think that your criticism will find seed somewhere in the midst of kind words I received on a job well done at Universal, you're quite mistaken. I've read them, and will remember them, most likely, but none will affect the way I manage, or the way I do anything else in my life.

Pretentious facade?

Ok, I'll take that. There should always be at least a crowbar separation between management, and cast. If you took my unwillingness to concede to whining as being pretentious, then so be it. If you think that commenting on it in my journal was pretentious, then so be that as well. It's a personal commentary I use to talk about my life, and by using no names, I'm not at all liable for any "hurt feelings".

I hope that this helps you a little more to understand all of the actions which were taken, and if not...then such is life. In my grand outlook on things how much will this affect me? Well, honestly, not at all. Simply a small bump in the course of an otherwise enjoyable event.

So...Thank you for the letter, and thank you for your time.

-JOHN-

P.S.- To my readers, so sorry if this was boring, but it was something I felt I should make sure everyone gets to see, as it's something that was left in my guestbook, so it warrants a response here on the site.


Your Host and Emcee...dizboy.

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