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Maybe In Your Magic Kingdom People Haggle But Here…

My husband and I went to Walt Disney World one summer. We were at EPCOT were they host the World Showcase. Over 11 different countries are showcased and the WD company hires individuals from foreign lands to work at each area. From what I’ve personally seen, these visiting employees are very friendly, speak English and other languages fluently, want to share their experience from their respective countries, and are just a joy to be around.

My story is set at the Morocco attraction. We walked around the restaurant and bazaar settings, enjoying the sights. Then we heard a woman raise her voice and screech out, “HEY YOU! YOU THERE! SPEAK ENGLISH? I WANT TO BUY THIS PLATE. HOW MUCH?”  The lady turned out to be a tall redhead who wore a Texas shirt and a thick Southern accent. Turns out she was speaking to an employee at the shop. The employee was dressed in ethnic garb. However, he spoke in perfect English (no accent) and clearly and politely told her that he could help her and would look up the price for her. She then continues and says, “NO! I NOT PAY FULL PRICE! I GIVE YOU FIVE DOLLARS!”

He calmly replies, “I’m sorry ma’am. The price is $20 and is set by the Disney company. I cannot lower a price without my manager’s knowledge.” She insists, though, that he must haggle with her since, “THAT’S THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE IN YOUR COUNTRY!” All this time the woman continues to shout at the poor employee, convinced that he doesn’t know English or can’t hear her. She also snaps her fingers at him (to get his attention) as he is trying to locate the price for her or locate the manager. The manager finally shows up and pretty much repeats what the employee has told her. She, however, goes on a mini tirade that this employee is “not smart” and “trying to charge high prices so he can pocket the rest.” Finally, the manager escorts the lady out, much to the relief of us guests.

Despite it all, the employee never lost his cool and continued to help others. A gentlemen thanked the employee for his great customer service and asked him if he sometimes gets treated like that while working at EPCOT. The employee smiled and replied,” No, it’s usually happens when I work back home”.   0124-11

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • aventurine February 2, 2011, 1:53 am

    Another native Southerner, standing in solidarity with Louise and Elizabeth.

    It ain’t that serious, y’all. 🙂

  • Anonymous February 2, 2011, 8:52 am

    Hey, let’s not get carried away with semantics here, eh? The woman, who happened to be from Texas, was extremely rude and racist to the Disney employee, who happened to be from Morocco….but then, insisting on haggling, and not taking “no” for an answer, is rude regardless of the context, and regardless of the ethnicities of the people involved. The fact that she insisted that “that’s the way things are done in your country” was just the racist tip of the massive iceberg of RUDE.

  • Ali February 2, 2011, 10:38 am

    I actually worked at Disney World for a summer. They serve alcohol at EPCOT, which can make things interesting.

    I’ve seen plenty of crazy tourists. Trust me, crazy knows no geographic boundaries. Although the most interesting were the Brazilian tourist groups, who turned Disney World visiting into an art. They had flags, signs, neon t-shirts, and chants. I finally heard from someone who was Brazilian who explained that visiting Disney World, specifically, a big deal in Brazil. It’s insane how brilliant those Disney Marketers are.

  • Xtina February 2, 2011, 10:39 am

    If the OP had framed the rude lady’s description with a phrase such as, “I’d exepct as much from someone like….”, then I’d take offense. There are rude Southerners (if that is what she was) as much as there are rude people from any other part of the world, but the OP’s description just lent color to the story, I think.

    That Disney employee did things just right. That woman was an incredibly rude harpy who, for whatever reason, failed to realize that (1) she probably knows nothing about how things are actually done in Morocco, but (2) she was in the U.S. anyway, not Morocco, (3) even if the employee did NOT speak good English, saying the same phrases louder will not invoke understanding, and (4) she sounded and acted like a complete idiot.

    That does remind me of a funny story; I went with a group to Jerusalem and one day we visited the market, where bargaining is apparently expected, to an extent. Our group had broken up to shop individually, but occasionally we’d cross paths with someone from the group. Someone was discussing the price of an item with the shopkeeper, when a Japanese woman from our group who had discovered that she LOVED bargaining for items rounded the corner, saw the exchange going on, and without thinking, swooped in on the pair and declared immediately, money in hand, “I give you……five dollar”. Not even knowing what the item was. Her very thick accent made it sound hilarious, and she was bound and determined to get the item–thrill of the chase! I guess it is one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments, but she had all of us cracking up, even the shopkeeper.

  • Chocobo February 2, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I agree with others who think it’s not offensive to describe the woman. Some commenters are adding a bias to the OP that doesn’t exist. It adds something to the story, and it’s not like the OP added “you know, TYPICAL” after her description. No one ever said that this was standard Texan/Southern (which as I understood it are two totally different identities) fair, so stop being so defensive and reading too much into it. If the lady had been brunette and dressed to the nines in Prada with an affective accent, it would have been just as entertaining.

  • AS February 2, 2011, 12:56 pm

    @Betsy: “aboriginals” refer to the oldest group of people who are known to have inhabited a particular area. It is often referred to Australian indigenous people, but not restricted to them (as far as I know, the “A” is capitalized in that case). In fact, Native Americans can be called American aboriginals too, but probably less commonly used as they have other, more commonly terms used. So, maybe it is not a good idea to point at someone without knowing the full facts.

  • Michelle P February 2, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Good grief people, stop dissecting the OP’s story. I’ve seen worse rudeness than this at Disneyland and elsewhere. Makes me ashamed to be an American and a southerner.

    Once, when I was a kid at Disneyland, my sister and I with my parents behind us were walking in an indoor line to get to a show. There was some kind of exhibit on one side, and the family in front of us stopped to take a picture. The parent dropped the camera inside the exhibit, so they stop and try to climb inside and try to reach it. (They had kids with them roughly our age, about ten and eleven.) My family was right behind them, and we walked around them. A minute or so later, I hear my mother raising cain at the mother of the other family. Apparently the other mom was angry at us for going around them, therefore getting in front of them. I guess we were supposed to wait for however long it took for them to retrieve their camera. The mother had complained to my sister, an eleven year old kid! My mother told her that if she had a problem with us she should have taken it to the parent, not the kid.

    I once read about a parent suing a theme park because a group of children were allowed to cut in line to get to the front at the rides/shows. The kids were terminally ill; they were there from the Make a Wish foundation.

    All manners are off on a vacation.

  • Jillybean February 2, 2011, 1:19 pm

    @those saying the description of the person being rude isn’t that offensive – it’s not about offense (to me anyway). But it is about getting people to recognize the bias in the things they say – because I truly do believe that they don’t even realize they are doing it in most circumstances. Perhaps the interpretations of others in the thread are accurate (that the OP describe the woman merely to demonstrate that this wasn’t a woman from Morocco thinking she could haggle like she does in her own country), but perhaps the OP was making a (possibly unconscious?) statement based on her perception of Southerners. Or Texans. Or redheads. Or tall people. I, all too often, notice people using qualifiers when describing rudeness – this (insert whatever) woman/man was doing blah blah blah – where the qualifying information is not relevant at all to the rudeness, and the rudeness would still be rude if the qualifier were changed in 100s of different ways.

  • Lizza February 2, 2011, 3:05 pm

    @ Ali – it is INSANE how big Disney World is Brazil. I spent a year there in high school, and everyone asked me if I’d been there, if I was going to go, how they really wanted to go, etc. etc. It actually could be all of South America – on my flight home, from Sao Paulo to Miami, there was a huge group of Argentinians going to Disney. Which is what they kept saying, “Yay! We go to Disney yay!” and causing a bit of an e-hell worthy entry themselves: they sat anywhere and didn’t want to move (communication was difficult: us exchangers spoke English/Portuguese, flight attendants Portuguese/limited English, they Spanish/limited English), they kept yelling about Disney even though this flight was in the middle of the night, had pillow fights…I understand they were excited, but I really wanted to sleep!

  • Louise February 2, 2011, 4:23 pm

    Qualifiers such as tall, redhead, Southern and Texas are not pertinent to the rudeness, but they enrich the story. I’ve always considered these submissions vignettes, and little details enhance the story, paint the picture and, for me at least, make them more enjoyable. Had the OP said something like “The woman turned out to be a tall redhead who wore a Texas shirt and a thick Southern accent — naturally!” or “The woman (of course) was a tall redhead who wore a Texas shirt and had a thick Southern accent,” I would agree that’s offensive.

    This entire story could be summed up in a very brief paragraph: “An American woman at Disney World’s Epcott was trying to haggle with a vendor in the Morocco section. She screeched phrases such as “HEY YOU! YOU THERE! SPEAK ENGLISH?” and “THAT’S THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE IN YOUR COUNTRY!” The employee was very calm; eventually, a manager escorted the woman out.” That’s the nuts and bolts of it, right? It’s also about as bland and boring a retelling as you can get. I would say it’s not offensive at all, but I bet someone would pipe up with, “How do you know she wasn’t Canadian?”

    I think it’s pretty uncharitable to suggest the OP is deliberately or subconsciously showing bias against tall, redheaded Southern women who might live in Texas. I don’t think she’s doing that anymore than she’s suggesting all people from Morocco handle crazy customers with aplomb. Heck, for all we know, the OP herself is a tall, redheaded Southern woman who lives in Texas.

  • Kat February 2, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Yes, it is POSSIBLE that the OP harbors some subconscious bias toward Texans.

    It’s also possible (and just as reasonable an assumption, based on the text of the post) that the OP harbors a bias towards tall people. Or women.

    Either way, THAT detail is what’s really irrelevant to the story. The OP didn’t come on here and start lambasting a group of people at large. The post is about an isolated incident. We don’t really need to know how the OP feels about texans/redheads/whatever. S/he isn’t making a federal case out of it. We’re the ones choosing to make this a discussion.

  • Chocobo February 2, 2011, 4:49 pm

    P.S. the woman may not have been from Texas, anyway. She wore a Texas teeshirt. I have teeshirts from Cape Cod and South Dakota, but I’m not from there.

    In any case, this lady was totally off her rocker! She clearly has little understanding of Moroccan (or any?) culture and left her brain as well as her manners at the gates.

  • Ali February 2, 2011, 11:47 pm

    I think the description of the woman as American was essential to explain that it wasn’t a cultural thing – sometimes people from other countries do try to haggle, not understanding that it doesn’t work here.

  • Enna February 3, 2011, 7:54 am

    How unbelieveable rude. Good that the employee kept his cool. Whats the point in getting so irrate anyway? The lady is only going to give herself a heart attack.

  • Bint February 3, 2011, 11:47 am

    “perhaps the OP was making a (possibly unconscious?) statement based on her perception of Southerners. Or Texans. Or redheads. Or tall people”

    Or perhaps the OP was simply *giving some detail about someone without any ulterior motive*? For goodness’ sake. You cannot accuse people of potential bias simply because they chose to share that the person was a tall redhead in a Texan shirt. It’s insulting to make that leap with no foundation (and there is no foundation to do so from the OP), and suggesting the OP might be a bigot from simply describing height, hair colour, accent and clothing is pretty rude in itself.

    “But it is about getting people to recognize the bias in the things they say”
    And yet you see no bias in leaping to a massive conclusion and assuming the OP is a bigot? You assume there IS a bias here, but that’s all it is: an assumption, and a rude one.

    How do you know the OP isn’t a tall redheaded Texan? We don’t. I am no friend to bias but I need a lot more than this to start flinging accusations of it around.

  • Jillybean February 3, 2011, 6:43 pm

    @Bint – I actually wasn’t accusing the OP of bias. I was using the OP’s sentence of an example that might contain bias. The sentence before the one of mine you quoted (which suggested possible – and not intentional – bias) said the opposite – that it was possible the OP was describing the woman to avoid other confusion. And you’re right, it’s just as possible she was describing her to simply embellish the story, and that was the easiest way to do so. My comment was an attempt to explain why others in the thread were taking offense, and why others just dismissing it as “no big deal” might not quite have it right either. I lept to no conclusions and assumed no bigotry on the part of the OP. I presented a couple of possible interpretations of her words and suggested that perhaps people (not even the OP, but people in general) don’t even realize when they add words that could come across that way.

  • Jeanne February 3, 2011, 8:58 pm

    The Disney employee is to be commended for his excellent manners and customer service approach. I have run into many retail (and corporate) customer service representatives who are horrendously rude and unhelpful to customers who are not rude, but merely seeking information or assistance. Rudeness is not limited to customers; in fact, customers are abused more now than ever.

  • Wink-n-Smile February 7, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Had I been there, I’d be sorely tempted to get some popcorn, find a seat and enjoy the show. Then cheer wildly at the “Grand finale” when the “villain” gets her just deserts. “Hail the conquering hero!” Ah, Disney always has a happy ending.

  • Clever.name February 10, 2011, 3:35 pm

    @LBC – Yen is the currency in JAPAN, not China.

  • Ash Kilday May 9, 2012, 12:34 pm

    @Chocobo – “the woman may not have been from Texas, anyway. She wore a Texas teeshirt. I have teeshirts from Cape Cod and South Dakota, but I’m not from there.”

    Being from Texas, I can confirm that not many of us would wear a shirt with our state name on it outside the house, let alone at EPCOT!

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