"For the one I love. To find me..."
"To find me..."
"Today. Today. Todayyyyyy......"
Assigned to the castle forecourt area of Fantasyland, I swept my rounds.
Hello to the pretty young clerk at the Tinker Bell Toy Shop.
A brush across the cobblestone toward the Tomorrowland side of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
I nod to the balloon vendor in her yellows.
She stoops to pull down a pink balloon for a brown-haired little girl with eyes like half-dollars.
"Excuse me, where's the Small World?" a guest asks me.
"Well, you're in the right Land, so your battle's halfway done. Turn around and head back toward the carousel and veer to your right, past Mr. Toad, past Monstro the whale, past the Mad Tea Party (you know, the one with the big teacups) and make a left at the Storybookland Canal Boats. The Small World has a large, white entrance structure...you can't miss it."
"Thanks! Carousel, Toad, Tea Party, Storybook. Got it."
My eyes scan the ground and spot some scatters of popcorn in the passage beneath the archway bearing the sign "This Way To Tomorrowland." I move my pan and broom to it and it is swept up in an instant.
While standing in the passageway, I hear a child crying ahead of me. Continuing on, I step out from under the castle and into the walkway area known as Snow White's Grotto.
There by Ms. White's wishing well is a mother holding her small son (about 4 years old). He is in tears and seems inconsolable. They look together into the well and then the mom frantically looks about for help.
I approach them.
"Is everything okay? Was your son hurt?"
"He isn't hurt, but we've lost his Mickey. It's the one he sleeps with every night. He takes it EVERYWHERE."
"Where were you when you last saw Mickey?"
"He isn't lost really, we just can't reach him. My son was holding him when we made a wish at the wishing well. He went to toss in his penny and dropped his Mickey and.....
...it fell into the well!!!"
Approaching the side of the well and peering over its edge to the sunlit area below, I see Mickey, half-floating in the shallow water rippling above the grate which covers the bottom of the well.
He is about five or six feet away.
Turning to the mom and her son, I tell them, "Mickey will be back with us in a moment. Stay right here and I'll be back!"
I bolt south toward Main Street, cut a hard left up Matterhorn Way and another left into the area locker located at the Fantasyland restrooms along the west side of the Matterhorn, hoping.
Hoping a grabber tool is in there.
From my keyring, I locate the locker key and open the door.
Scanning the locker area, I see squirt bottles, a mop and bucket, stacks of paper towels, toilet paper, supplies and....the green-handled grabber!
In an instant I have locked the door behind me and am flying back to Snow White's Grotto.
By now, a small group has gathered about the mom and her small son---his eyes still wet with tears, but curious.
I run up in my sweeper whites, carrying pan, broom and grabber tool.
"Excuse me folks! I'll need you to step away from the edge of the well for a moment, this is going to require a little balancing!"
Hoisting myself up to the edge and bending over it at the waist, I hang headfirst down into the well, holding the long-handled grabber tool in my right hand ahead of me.
Squeezing the trigger, the pinching "grabber" end squeezes around one of Mickey's ears. Holding tight, I back myself up over the edge, keeping my right arm below me in the well.
As my feet hit the ground, I stand and slowly raise my arm from the interior of the well...like Bullwinkle Moose pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
The grabber tool clears the side of the well to reveal Mickey Mouse, his feet and bottom dripping, dangling by an ear from the claws of the tool.
The small crowd erupts in spontaneous applause!!
The mother smiles broadly, her eyes flashing a thank you.
Taking the white towel from my belt and quickly swaddling and squeezing Mickey with it, I am able to soak up a good amount of the water.
Now comes the part I've been waiting for.
I kneel like a grand knight appearing before his lord and look across at the 4-year old boy with shining blue eyes that are still a little red around the edges.
With both arms extended, I hold out Mickey before him in an offering gesture.
He bolts forward and grab-hugs the plush mouse from my hands, in a flash of reunion and joy.
He and Mickey twirl together in a small, circular, foot-hopping dance of excitement, and the small group claps and cheers.
All the while, Snow White's sweet voice floats to us from inside the well...
"To find me."
"To find me."
Funny. There are some people who think a sweeper's job isn't glamorous or rewarding.