It doesn't just happen, folks.
It's not something in the water.
... or in the free, unlimited soft drinks.
We have to work on being friendly.
It means reporting for work at 7:30 am for Hospitality Training.
In the morning.
How friendly is that?
We pack the Holiday Theater for three mornings this week as we bulk up on what it's all about.
We tell stories and read emails aloud. One in particular brought tears to my eyes. (A father wrote to thank us for helping his family to forget about his cancer for a day. He hadn't heard his wife and son laugh in a long, long time.)
We remind everyone that we don't know what the families visiting us might be going through.
Maybe they're celebrating a birthday.
Maybe they've been counting down the days for months.
Maybe there's just been a divorce in the family.
Maybe Junior barfed in the car on the way down.
You just don't know, do you?
We talk about the little things ... and the big things.
And someone (it was Will this year) always asks for a show of hands:
Anyone out there shy?
Well ... if they're truly shy, they might not be too eager to raise their hands, right?
We always get a chuckle out of that. Corny, I know.
After the theater portion, we break into small groups and scatter all over the park to practice, practice, practice.
Chris and I were assigned his Security Crew. As we headed over to Santa's Storytime Theater, I joked, "Why don't you sit up on stage, just like we do with Santa?"
Good grief -- they did just that!
This photo was taken during a serious discussion. (That's Chris in Santa's chair.) A bit later, we practiced smiling, eye contact, and chatting with our Guests.
They did very well. And so did the three or four entertainers who were part of our group.
Earlier, in the theater, Mrs. Koch told us about how she enjoys greeting families as they arrive at the front gate. Even though not everyone responds, she keeps trying.
Will couldn't resist: We have to do a good job. Otherwise, the business will fail and we'll have to close. And Mom will have to get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.
"No way!" she countered, somehow louder than the laughter.
"I'd be an exotic dancer!"
Then Will: I'll give you all a moment to wipe that image from your mind.
Well, 7:30 am or no 7:30 am, everyone was wide awake then. The theater rocked with good-natured laughter.
Those two are quite a pair.
Mother and son.
Setting an example every day for the rest of us.
And starting our day with a smile.