It was only eighty degrees out but the white shorts and t-shirt combo she had thrown on in the dark that morning were already sticking to her skin and the driver’s seat she currently idled in. She turned up the AC in her blue Volkswagen Jetta while simultaneously flipping off a dark green van that had cut in front of her when the light changed.

“Hey asshole, watch where you’re going!” she shouted to the van and pressed her hand to the horn of her car. The van probably contained kids with sticky fingers, bright smiles, and wide eyes, all eagerly awaiting the moment when they’d enter one of the amusement parks Walt Disney had created for the world to enjoy.

Another hot as the sun, humid day in Florida, she thought and rolled her eyes. Orlando – or specifically, Disney World – was supposed to be the happiest place on Earth. But Andrea wished she could be anywhere but in the land of Mickey and Minnie.

She had landed the job at Magic Kingdom the summer after she ended classes at the University of Florida. Although she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a specialty in advertising and promotion, she couldn’t seem to land a job anywhere. In a last resort, she had applied to work at Disney – after all, she had interned there during her sophomore year in school. But although she had a steady income, it wasn’t what she had planned to be doing after she graduated. Andrea now hated the place where most of her childhood had occurred.

She rolled down her window to flash the badge that showed she worked at the parks to the security guard. The older man waved her into the park with a grin and said, “Please do have a nice day!”

“Yeah yeah, you too,” she muttered back and drove over to a spot labeled, “For Disney employees only!” She glanced around the parking lot to the rows and rows of shiny cars – the park wasn’t even open and it was already packed.

Andrea locked the doors to her car and turned to face Cinderella’s castle with a fake smile. Disney employees were supposed to be happy, she knew, and her boss had chided her more than once on her lack of enthusiasm. She shrugged her black purse over her shoulder and headed into the park.

“Andrea,” her boss Lily started in on her as soon as she walked into the staff area, “I thought we had talked about you being happier.”

“I am happy,” she said through clenched teeth. “I’m smiling aren’t I?” She flashed a huge grin to appease her boss. The Disney Employee Handbook required all cast members to always be peppy.

“You may be smiling,” Lily chided, “but look at that color combination. A black bag and white shorts? Where is the color? Where is the happy? Where is the Disney pride?’ At that last statement she slapped a Mickey sticker onto Andrea’s black purse.

“It’s hot out,” Andrea contradicted, staring her boss in the eye, “ and I’m wearing white to stay cool under my costume. I didn’t bother to change my purse. No one will see me with it anyway, I’ll be wearing a costume.”

“Your lack of enthusiasm for your job is saddening,” Lily said sadly. “No, not your job, you aren’t obligated to be here. This is something you’re supposed to enjoy doing. Please change your attitude and into your costume.”

Andrea walked away from Lily to the cast closet and pulled the Mickey sticker off her bag. How had her life taken this turn downhill? She was supposed to be working at an advertising firm, not entertaining children and pissing off peppy bosses in Disney World, she thought and shook her head slowly.

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