My Bad Job: Theme Park Retail | Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove

qb abby cadabby
If you ever want to lose all joy and wonder with theme parks, work for one. Don’t get me wrong, I love working at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I wouldn’t work there for five seasons if I didn’t enjoy it overall. As fair warning, you need to be really careful where you work in an environment like a theme park. You can try to work rides and get forced into custodial business every now and then (like my sister did). You can pick a job that sounds fun like culinary, but spend most of your time working in extreme heat, watching as you realize just how much food gets wasted at the end of the day.Then you can be like me and attach yourself to Merchandise and let it consume you. When I first started working at Busch Gardens in my senior year of high school, I was hired to be a Games Attendant. I worked a few weeks there, had some fun, but then didn’t return until the summer after my freshman year of college. After working a summer in the heat and throwing my voice out repeating the same jargon, I grew tired of Games and decided to switch. I decided to remain in Merchandise since it was a field I was familiar with, and asked to work Retail the next year.

When asked where I wanted to work, I chose Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove, the gift shop in the Sesame Street Forest of Fun. I really should have thought this out more.

A year later, I was back in Williamsburg and ready to spend my summer working in the cute little gift shop filled with all the characters from Sesame Street. To be fair to the store, I did actually enjoy working in it. I did find that switching from Games to Retail was a good move on my part, and I found it easy to integrate into the environment it called for. I also did like the store as an entity. My heart melted at all the adorable merchandise for sale, and I was okay dealing with guests and all their complaints.

It turned out that I probably shouldn’t have let the candy-colored shop cloud my judgement. Working in Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove turned out to be a real challenge, physically and emotionally. What’s worse was that many of the things that made Abby Cadabby hard to deal with were the same things that made me leave Games that I didn’t realize in retrospect.The first was the Summer heat. Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove is an open giftshop, with one actual wall and three sides for entry. The store was also brightly colored, had a low ceiling, and no ceiling fans. It was also in a section of the park that is very small and generally is densely populated due to the large number of families that come to see Elmo and Big Bird. Coupled with the fact that this happened in a summer where the temperature broke triple digits, I was pretty miserable. I had to get used to wiping my skin down with a paper towel every so often and going into the stock room for some air conditioning.

The number of families in the area were also a general issue working at that store. It almost became a joke to see how many times my coworkers and I were asked where the bathrooms in were, despite the nearby “Restrooms” sign. Parents’ inability to find a bathroom did also produce other issues while working in this area. Because they couldn’t find the bathrooms, parents would have to change their children outdoors, near the stockroom, in order to have some privacy. This resulted in many cases of being accidentally flashed by small children, followed by a feeble attempt to tell the parents where they could safely change their child.

I don’t have issues with small children; I have a brother who’s about to turn three, but I did find that small children, in an area that’s hot, crowded, wet, and playing Sesame Street songs that loop every hour on speakers all around did produce some bad results. The worst of it was one unforgettable day. I was at my register, minding my business, when a guest came up to me with a question.

“Can you call someone?” she asked me. “I think a kid pooped in the play area.”

Suddenly, everything fell silent. I asked her to repeat. She told me again. I asked her to show me. She walked me to it, located right at the entrance of the watery play area. I called the janitorial services. Four area hosts stood around it and gazed at it. It was at 7:30 p.m., and I wouldn’t be off until about 10:30. At that point, I was just ready to go home. What was the point of doing anything else after having to call in about poop? Why bother staying there by choice? But I resigned myself to continue working.

When I had to do my rehire application, where I could secure a job for the next season, I knew I had to be smart. I liked Retail, but not Abby Cadabby. I could handle a lot, but there were too many annoyances I couldn’t take anymore. I cased the park, and made a choice that worked so much better in the long run. I picked a shop called Girls ShamROCK, a girl-themed toy store in the Ireland section. While it was very similar to Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove, this store was larger, had air conditioning, played pop music that looped every six and a half hours (that does have some issues in it as well, but as an aspect of the store, I approve of it), and was less stressed filled. I enjoyed Girls ShamROCK and returned to it this year.

Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove is not a bad store, but it’s not a good summer job. I do like it for getting me into Retail and pushing me towards a better shop, but I ultimately found it one of the more troubling places to work in the park. I have found worse places to work in the park, but I still feel pity for any coworker who has to go to Abby Cadabby’s. The heat, the dense population, and the insanity of children’s entertainment made it something I don’t want to return to. If anything, I’m glad one of the few takeaways from the store is the Cookie Monster mug I use frequently. It reminds me of why I liked the shop to begin with, and reminds me that there’s always something to enjoy in something that makes you regret having sweat glands.

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