Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Disney, Scratch & Dent World, and tipping etiquette

My friend D-Wright still works at the same northeast Ohio technical translation company where we met some twelve years ago – at this rate, he’s only a couple of years away from tattooing a permanent “L” on his forehead. If it’s any consolation, I got my own “L” a few months ago when I realized I might as well have majored in Elizabethan poetry, for all the good my stellar college education is doing towards my train-wreck of a career… but I digress. Last month, the company sent him down to Orlando for a military gadgets and weaponry conference in the hopes of drumming up some translating business. The war-mongers conference, as D-Wright christened it, was held smack down in the middle of DisneyTown, or whatever the hell it’s called. I guess if I was a war profiteer looking for a good place to hold a weapons conference, I’d pick the Magic Kingdom, too!!!
Disney and weapons of mass destruction – a match made in Hades.

Since I’ve got a handful of vacation days left and have zero travel plans because I’ve resolved to finish my thesis before it goes into its fourth year of ineptitude and procrastination, I took a little time off from work and drove up to DisneyTown to hang out with D-Wright Warbucks. Getting up to Orlando wasn’t a problem, since I’ve driven up there quite a few times. Once in DisneyTown, however, finding my way was an absolute nightmare. I had detailed Mapquest instructions, but they were absolutely useless. Mapquest lists the streets by their supposed name (East 160th, etc.), but DisneyTown ignores this and lists the streets with colourful but idiotic names like “Parking Lot 2: where the magic happens!” or “The Wild Kingdom.” After driving a complete circuit around DisneyTown, I finally did the unthinkable and stopped at a Hess gas station to ask for directions. The attendant there was kind enough to translate the Mapquest street names into DisneyTown lingo, and I was then able to find the hotel easily.

The hotel in question is The Coronado Resort, an utterly ridiculous hodgepodge of Conquistador/Mayan/Aztec décor and nomenclature. The buildings, for example, were referred to as “Casitas” and “Cabañas,” while the convention center was termed “El Centro.” Why Disney chose to glorify western Europe’s exploitation and subsequent near-annihilation of indigenous Americans is beyond me. Then again, I shouldn’t be overly critical, since I have a Chief Wahoo logo tattooed on my shoulder. I guess I have no point.

The pseudo-Aztec hotel room mirror – I would have checked to see whether it was real copper, but I didn’t have my Mohs hardness kit handy.

Disney did, thankfully, stick to native plants when landscaping the grounds. Here’s a beautiful flowering cluster of Sagittaria lancifolia bordering one of the ponds (yes, the college education can come in handy every now and then):

While channel-surfing in the hopes of finding TBS (the hotel didn’t have a channel guide – I guess since neither the Conquistadores nor the Aztecs had a channel guide, the powers-that-be decided hotel guests don’t need one either) so we could watch the Cavs, we came across a repeating loop of ads for something called Scratch & Dent World, featuring a trailer-trash spokeswoman with a plaid dress, a knee brace, a mullet, and an overly exuberant disposition. It’s difficult to describe the lunacy of these ads. Luckily, someone was kind enough to post a YouTube clip of the same ads for the Daytona branch:

As mesmerizing and inexplicably enjoyable as the Scratch & Dent World ads were (admit it: you want to watch them again!), the highlight of my two-day stay in DisneyTown was a Tarantinoesque discussion D-Wright and I had regarding the propriety of tipping a hotel chambermaid. We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure this out – we really needed D-Wright’s better half to help us, but she was back in Hiram burning her bras. For me, the tipping issue is pretty simple. If the person providing whatever service is paid commensurately with the value of the service, no tip is needed. This is why, for example, tipping 20% when going to a restaurant here in the States is not only common but actually expected – if I get a $50 check after a meal, very little of that money goes to the waiters and waitresses that work at the restaurant, because their wages are laughable. In Europe and South America, on the other hand, tipping a waiter 20% is unheard of, because their wages are actually quite good. I use this criterion whenever I try to figure out whether to tip someone. Waiters and waitresses = yes; girl who cuts my hair = yes; nurse who fondles my bean bag while asking me to cough = no (she should pay ME for the “privilege”). My problem with the chambermaid tipping issue is that I have no idea how much chambermaids are paid. I explained this reasoning to D-Wright, and he promptly settled the problem by surmising that chambermaids made horrible wages because of, and I quote, “their highly probable non-legal immigrant status.” Man, I’m still laughing over that description. Oh-by-the-way, I ended up leaving a $10 tip.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!


spacegrl said...

dear Bitter Clevelander,

While hunting for a "slightly cheaper" scrathed and dented dryer, I turned to google for help. Needless to say google helped and returned a search with the aforementioned stores phone number and address; however, it also popped up a blog talking about the "Crazy red neck lady doing the scratch and dent world commercials." I read your blog and it made me laugh. I live in Florida on the eastern side of Orlando, and hence, get the wonderful pleasure of seeing these commercials often. In case you were wondering how this crazy white trash woman affords these tv ads and infomercials I shall tell you. No it's not because of her winning looks, dress, or glorious personality-it is due to the fact that her husband works for our only Cable company here in florida, and his job is in the TV Production department. I found this out in a most embarrassing way, while I too was working for the "monopolistic evil cable company". I actually made fun of the ladies' commercials in front of her husband, if that's not a fluke I don't know what is. I apologized, and had to fight back the urge to blurt at him: "Does she ever scream like that during sex, or maybe when you buy something to expensive does she say: You paid to much!!!?? Anyway I just thought that I would share this random thought with you, oh and she also does commercial for her sister company: Appliance Direct, and you should also check out her Asian friend, too. He appears in the Appliance Direct Commercials as well. Also, rumor is that the crazy ladies' kneebrace is not even needed, it's just a gimmick!!!

Bitter Clevelander said...

spacegrl, that helps enormously. I can accept a stodgy ambulance-chasing lawyer's halting, awkward delivery during his commercial because it is, after all, HIS law firm or whatever. I did spend far too much time wondering who decided mullet knee-brace would be a good spokesperson. Then again, she's no worse than that Billy Mays guy that pitches pretty much every crappy product out there! And since we have Appliance Direct stores here in Naples, I've seen those ads far too many times... but they just don't compare to mullet knee-brace girl's "FOURTEEN DAYS!!!" craziness. That knee-brace just kills me. Finding out it may be nothing but a gimmick (!!!) pretty much made my week. Cheers!

GoBuckeyes said...

Hi Bitter Clevelander,

I'm originally from Youngstown (nearby)...and now live in Orlando (I used to work for Disney about 10 years ago too…but not at the hotel you stayed at; I worked at the Yacht and Beach Clubs and Swan and Dolphin). I'm currently enjoying a whole afternoon's worth of freakin' "Appliance Direct" commercials on the Travel Channel.

Anyways...I thought the designated "Asian guy" is actually the owner. I don't think he's "just a random friend". Check out the website:

Word on the street down here was that the "crazy redneck lady" is actually his wife (which, I guess, possibly negates what spacegrl said). And, she wears that gawd-awful dress in ALL the commercials 'cause it matches their company's colors: Green and Yellow.

There - my two cents worth.


Bitter Clevelander said...

The plot thickens! The sad thing is, right around the time I wrote this entry, I needed a new washer & dryer, and actually considered trying Scratch & Dent World (hey, I'm a grad student with a mortgage). Luckily, a friend who was moving out of state sold me his barely used set, and I'm happy to report that they were neither scratched nor dented. I guess I have no point.

Go Buckeyes !!!!!!!!!!

Karla said...

Central Florida here....I'm late to the party, but I got part of the information I needed: who the h@#$ is that woman screaming at me and where does she buy her clothes? Does Goodwill have a Reject Outlet store? The orange plaid dress is a winner compared to the acid-green pantsuit she turned up in a month ago. Who knew that there were leprechauns in the trailer park? I hope to never, ever be so desperate for a large appliance that I have to stoop to become part of their target market; I'd rather pay twice as much. Thank God for the remote control with a mute button!

Amy said...

Bitter Clevelander and Karla,

Yep, as someone else noted above, the chick in the commercials just "happened to be there" as her husband was filming, or something like that, the commercials. That's how she got the gig. Yes, the dress is just 'cause it matches the colors.

Karla, I'm in Orlando too and "stooped" low, apparently in your eyes, to buy a W/D set at Appliance Direct. I had gone to Sears and it was AWFUL. I bought a set, then found it wasn't going to work out thanks to my apartment's wacky architecture, and cancelled my order (within said terms, mind you) in less than 24 hours after purchase. I was basically STALKED by the saleman who sold it to me - calling me for about 2 wks. - wanting to sell me another set. Then, told me that the sizes I needed were no longer existent. I called AD and YES, the sizes WERE in existence, YES, they were about $200 CHEAPER, and NO ONE hounded me. Actually, I had a GREAT older gentleman for a salesman, the place was JAMMED with NORMAL people, and the experience took me about 30 minutes and the W/D set arrived the next day w/ ZERO problems.

So...don't EVER say NEVER! It wasn't THAT bad!

Go Buckeyes!