Expect Nothing, Appreciate Everything

I have been very fortunate throughout my life to have had opportunities that I never thought I would have. I have experienced things that many other people have never experienced. There have been numerous times that I have received some kind of special treatment, just because I was in the right place at the right time, or because I had proven myself to be extremely loyal to certain people or businesses. There is something that has always stood out to me in these situations that makes me different from a lot of other people that I have either met or have been around… I don’t ask for any kind of special treatment… ever. I just don’t. I’m not that kind of person. You will never see or hear me ask somebody to let me skip a long line, just because I don’t want to wait. You will never see or hear me ask to get something for free. I may joke about it, but I won’t seriously ask for somebody to treat me as if I were special. The thought of it just doesn’t feel right to me. I’m no better than anyone else.

There have been times I have been somewhere with somebody I just met, or somebody I just don’t know well, and they have tried to use the fact that I am in a wheelchair to try to get us/them special treatment. To be completely honest, that pisses me off. I don’t get upset easily. I’m a very laid-back person. People who try to use my wheelchair (or anything else, for that matter) to get special treatment really piss me off. I don’t ask for special treatment, so what makes them think they have the right to ask for it and use me as their excuse?

I remember countless concerts I have attended where I was surrounded by a sea of people and couldn’t see the stage. I just decided I would make the best of the situation and enjoy the show as much as I could. People around me saw me and realized that I couldn’t see, and, without asking, they started telling people in front of me to move out of the way, and they pushed my wheelchair as close to the stage as possible so I could see. I didn’t ask them to do that, but they did it for me to help me.

A few years ago, I was in Las Vegas with a group for my best friend’s bachelor party. There was a long line to get into one of the clubs. Security saw me and told me to follow them. I wasn’t able to bring our whole group with me, but they allowed me to pick three other people to follow me through a separate entrance. We got to skip a 3+ hour long line, and we got into the club immediately. We still had to pay the cover charge, but we got in. The rest of our group had to wait in line, and they never did get into the club.

At Disney World, since I am a local and a regular (let’s be honest, I spend more time in the parks than some cast members), I know when it is and isn’t worth it to wait in a stand-by line for an attraction. Certain attractions just aren’t worth the ridiculous amount of time that most tourists are willing to wait. Many times, I have been waiting in line, and a cast member who was working at that attraction has seen me and taken me out of the line to bring me to a separate entrance. Once again, in these situations, I was waiting in line just like everybody else, and was unexpectedly allowed to skip the line.

Just last night, in fact, when I was at Epcot, I wasn’t even in line (I was waiting next to the stand-by line) for the Candlelight Processional. Each night, a celebrity narrates. Whoopi Goldberg is the narrator this weekend. I missed out on seeing her last year, so I wanted to make sure I saw her this year. When the seating was filled, the people who were still waiting in the stand-by line were told there would not be anybody else allowed into the theater. People started begging to be allowed in as singles… basically, they were trying to ditch the rest of their group. They were told no other seating was available. People in wheelchairs started begging to be allowed to sit in any random space that was open, since the handicap seating area was full, as well. They were told there was no room. People who weren’t able to get into the theater were able to watch and listen from outside of the rope at the back of the theater. I was sitting next to the rope and was able to see and hear, so I was fine with watching from there. I never once said a word to any of the cast members while others were begging to be let in. I sat there silently and was just happy that I was able to experience the Candlelight Processional, even if I was outside of the rope. Once the crowd around me cleared, a cast member approached me and asked if I wanted to get into the theater. I said, “Yes, please, if that is at all possible, I would love that. If not, that is totally fine though.” The cast member lifted the rope and said, “Yes, of course. Please follow me.” The seating was, in fact, completely full, but I was allowed to watch the show from a walkway next to the handicap section. The only difference between myself and the people who were turned away is that I didn’t beg to be let in. I was happy with watching from outside of the theater.

Last weekend, I got to meet up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in over two years at Animal Kingdom. When I arrived, she was on her way to watch “Festival of the Lion King”, which is my absolute favorite show at Disney World. I joined her for the show, but she was with her family and we got separated from them, because the handicap seating in the theater was full. I felt bad that she got separated from her family, and, as I was about to tell her to go ahead into the show and I would just meet up with her after the show, a cast member brought us up a ramp that I never knew existed. Although we were separated from her family, we got to watch the show together. I was really excited to see her, and, being 1,500 miles away from where I grew up and rarely getting to see my friends or family, getting to watch that show with her was something I won’t forget. I won’t say it was the best performance of the show that I’ve ever seen, but it was my favorite experience watching the show ever, just because of the situation. Once again, we didn’t ask if there was additional handicap seating anywhere, it just worked out, thankfully.

My experiences at Disney World, specifically Epcot, have been incredible. At that park, more than any of the others, I have just happened to find myself in the right place at the right time more times than I could count. I have been given free food, free drinks, and access to VIP viewing areas, just because I was in the right place at the right time. I have never once asked for any of those things, but I have always been very appreciative when it has happened.

One night at Magic Kingdom a few months ago, I was sitting next to Rivers of America by myself. The fireworks were about to begin and all of the food and beverage stands were closing. A cast member walked up behind me and said, “Excuse me, sir. Mickey wanted you to have this. Have a magical night!!” She handed me a Mickey pretzel for free. The stand was closing for the night, and there was one pretzel left that hadn’t been sold. Rather than throw the pretzel away and waste it, the cast member saw me sitting nearby by myself, and wanted to do something nice for me. As minor as receiving a free pretzel may seem, it actually made my whole night. It was a nice gesture from a cast member who didn’t have to do anything special. She went out of her way to do something nice for me. Plus, those freaking pretzels cost $6!! haha It made me really happy. It was something I really appreciated.

When I find places to hang out that I really enjoy, I have always been very loyal. I tend to be an extremely loyal person, in general. When I hang out in a place enough that I become a regular, I like to get to know the staff. I like to become friends with them. I respect and appreciate their hard work, and want to make sure they know that. Bars and restaurants where I have been a regular in the past were always more enjoyable once I became friends with the staff. I just loved the laid-back vibe of being surrounded by friends. In those places, fairly often, I would end up getting free food or drinks. When you get to know a manager well and become friends with them, they start to realize that you will gladly spend a lot of money in their establishment. An occasional free drink or two, or a free appetizer, is a great gesture. Again, it’s not expected, but it is very much appreciated.

I could keep going on for a while, but the message is the same… people need to learn to quit begging for things and trying to get special treatment. Just be loyal to the people and places you enjoy, and just be happy with what you already have. When you appreciate the situation you’re already in, you won’t be disappointed when you don’t get special treatment. But, even better, you may find yourself more frequently on the receiving end of these “magical moments”. If you do, appreciate those moments. Be excessively appreciative. Be excessively thankful. People ask me how I am able to experience so many of these “magical moments”. To be honest, it’s mostly luck. I happen to be in the right place at the right time in most cases. Part of it, though, is not taking it for granted and expecting it to happen. When you thank someone repeatedly and show your true appreciation when they do something nice for you, they will remember that. They may even help you out again at some point in the future. If they do, be truly appreciative again the next time. But, once again, don’t expect it.

If you’ve learned anything from this, I hope it has reminded you to just be thankful for what you DO have, instead of being disappointed and thinking about what you wish you had.


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