Disneyland Day Custodial shift.
About 4:00 p.m.
The call came over my lead's radio.
"Custodial 3, 10-49 Storybook. Code...um, Code-D."
"Code-D?" The lead looked quizzically at his radio.
Storybook? What sort of custodial incident could happen at the Storybook Land Canal Boats?
"10-4, I've got a sweeper en route."
He looked at me.
"Wait a second," I said, "I still have to hit the Dumbo and Toad bullpens (queues)."
He kept looking at me.
"O.K., O.K. I'm on my way. I hope they didn't mean "Code-V."
Code-V was the dreaded radio term for a vomit "spill."
We sweepers were armed with "Pixie Dust" to deal with Code-Vs. It was an absorbent compound that came in small bags and would be sprinkled over the mess, which would be absorbed and them swept up into our metal pan. A final squirt down with some bottled cleanser and a sweep with a thick paper towel would finish the process.
Not sure what I'd be facing, I took a couple bags of Pixie Dust and a long-handled "grabber" from the Fantasyland area locker and set out apace to the Storybook Land dock.
Normally, a trip to this location was looked upon with anticipation bordering on delight by males of the sweeper species. Storybook was a "girls only" attraction in 1984 and tended to be staffed with attractive young ladies in cute blue skirts and knee-high white stockings.
Most of the time, we would stop at Storybook to sweep through its bullpen at routine intervals.
This "Code D" run was a novelty.
As I arrived at the attraction, I made my way through the exit and over to the lead at the dock.
I do not recall her name, but let's use "Colleen," since she had strawberry blonde hair and freckles like an Irish lass. The dock was lined with empty canal boats and the guests in the queue were looking impatient.
The attraction was "101."
"Glad you're here. Go ahead and get on the Faline with Patty, she'll take you to the problem."
Without thinking, I stepped onto the boat, and Patty, with her shortly cropped brown bob and utterly Disney smile, told me to grab a seat and hang on.
We chugged forward at full speed, which is not all that fast in a canal boat.
As we entered Monstro's mouth I turned to Patty.
"Exactly what am I in for here?"
"Somebody tossed one out of Casey Junior, I guess. It's kinda making for 'bad show.'"
"Nice. Where is it?"
The boat slowed to a creep as we drifted through Monstro's missing tail.
Patty nodded to her right.
Nestled there along the bank was a tiny and quaint Tyrolian village. Behind it loomed miniaturized Alpine mountains, eternally snow-capped. Just beyond those mountains ran the tracks of the Casey Junior Circus Train---about a diaper's toss away from the heart of the little village.
"Pinocchio's Village," Patty announced.
I couldn't see anything from this vantage point.
"We have to go around to the front." And she throttled the boat forward, past the Village, past Peter Pan Park, Alice's rabbit hole and the Casey Junior station. Indeed, we made our way through most of the attraction's canal until we were back at Pinocchio's Village.
Patty stopped the boat and tried to steady it.
"You're going to have to get up slowly and step across. Be careful!"
Taking hold of my pistol-gripped "grabber" tool, I stood in the middle of the small boat and tried to figure a way to step from it without rocking it to the point of falling into the canal. I gingerly planted my foot on a medium sized rock along the shoreline and then glanced about for another safe foothold.
I felt like Gulliver entering Lilliput and stood with both arms outstretched for balance like a tightrope walker.
Laid out before me was the curved and cobbled main street of the Village.
It was lined with charming structures fitted with shingled roofs and tiny windows and doors. I gazed up the little avenue and saw it---The Diaper.
I pictured the little villagers in their homes, inns and taverns, huddled in mute horror, pinching their noses and gasping for air. I was sure they had been through many trying times in the past: sparrow attacks, giant duck landings, and the occasional invasion of giants bringing new light bulbs to replace the old ones that lit the interiors of the small buildings.
But this, this was different.
There, in the middle of the street, and less than half a block from the woodcarver's toy shoppe along the canal's edge, lay a diaper almost half the size of a building. It appeared to be a Pampers make and had been bundled in on itself, with one of its sticky tabs holding fast while the other splayed outward, unattached, leaving the diaper's contents treacherously close to spilling out.
It looked a bit like the boulder that Indiana Jones encountered in an ancient South American temple. I imagined it rolling down the street---a massive, smelly ball of doom.
My thoughts raced.
Poor Gepetto!! Cleo! Figaro!!!
I could see them inside their little cottage, slumped and overcome by methane fumes from the enormous diaper, while a myriad of cuckoo clocks chimed about their motionless and diminutive bodies.
Oh the humanity.
I placed my right foot onto the cobbled street and prayed I would not lose my balance. I leaned forward and, with my right hand, used the long "grabber" tool to pinch the diaper between its claws.
As I gently lifted it from the street, I twisted my upper body and deposited the diaper along the bow of the Faline, as Patty squirmed in disgust and made faces from her perch at the aft end of the boat.
Spinning on my left foot, I stepped with my right back to the edge of the boat and boarded.
Turning to Patty, in my best Gary Cooper voice, I announced:
"Ma'am, my work here is through. The people of Pinocchio's Village have been ridden of their burden."
Rolling her eyes and not seeming very impressed by my heroism, she started to take us home to the dock.
As we pulled away, I could almost swear that I heard the sound of tiny voices raised in cheer coming from within the Village. The jaunty music in Gepetto's Toy Shop seemed---jauntier. From the corner of my eye I thought I spied tiny hands waving handkerchiefs from windows in salute to the man who saved the town from Pamper-geddon.
As Patty and I pulled alongside the dock on our return, the lead, Colleen, stepped onto the edge of the boat to steady it. I then disembarked with a grabber-claw full of nasty diaper. I deposited in one of the nearby trash cans---feeling a slight pang of pity for the sweeper on trash duty that day who would have to empty it later.
Goes with the territory.
If I may quote Super Chicken: "You knew this job was dangerous when you took it, Fred."
Anyway, as a child and as a guest for years at the Park, I often pictured myself being able to step off the canal boat and tiptoe through the miniature scenes, peering in windows and marveling at the tiny architectural details.
Never did I imagine my one opportunity would involve a diaper and Pinocchio's Village.
Talk about magic and imagination.
Have a great day all! And to those parents who must deal with a diaper while on an attraction---there are trash cans at the exit, please deposit the diaper there!