Disney theme parks are supposed to be some of the happiest places on Earth, at least that's what their executives and employees want you to believe. In reality, there is only so much that an elaborate theme park can control. There are many unpredictable factors at play, such as malevolent guests who seem to revel in inciting mayhem. All it takes is one minuscule detail to set them off, which is where our story begins. Arthur found himself ensnared in the maniacal tirade of one angry mother, Brenda. What began as an innocent mistake quickly revealed something far more violent beneath the surface. Witnesses likened it to an oncoming train wreck; there was nothing that they could do except watch the oncoming carnage. And this metaphorical collision was a brutal experience for poor Arthur, who had to act quickly if he was to save himself from Brenda's wrath.
Arthur received the opportunity of a lifetime: visit Disneyland Shanghai a few weeks before it officially opened, along with his many friends from his church's youth group. This was an exclusive event, as only friends and family of those who worked for the theme park were allowed access. This group of teens were astonished at their good fortune. Because there were so few people, the lines were shockingly brief, and the lack of crowds made for a pleasant time. In honor of the occasion, Arthur and his friends all wore matching Mickey Mouse t-shirts. Looking back on it, Arthur probably would have worn something different had he known the role that shirt would play in the upcoming struggle.
As the day drew to a close, Arthur and his friends had worn themselves out on all of the rides. They thought they would stop by the gift shop on the way out for some special souvenirs. This gift shop was unique in that it hadn't officially opened, but it was taking merchandise orders. The shelves were lined with individual items, with labels in both Chinese and English. Customers were supposed to keep track of the number on the item they wanted and relay it to the cashier, who would give them the order form the back room.
When Arthur walked inside, he immediately recognized a friend from a rival school and her mother, who were struggling to figure out this temporary system. Arthur walked over and helped the two of them out, displaying a resourcefulness that made a certain someone take notice. Arthur recalled how, "Halfway through, I feel a presence approach me. I don’t pay it much mind as I think it’s one of their other family members.”
Unfortunately, this person had no relation to his friend or her mom. Arthur didn't know why, but all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up when she came over. Unease washed over him when he turned around. There was a woman leaning in uncomfortably close to him, featuring a wicked smile. "Brenda" had arrived, and she wouldn't take no for an answer.
“I felt her warm, caustic breath huffing and puffing on my collar bone,” Arthur remarked. At first he didn't think too much about her oddities, and he inched away in order to rejoin his friends. Brenda didn't like that. She seized him. Arthur will never forget how, "Her oily, grubby, marshmallow fingers with her crusty acrylics grabbed my arm. I slowly turn around and am immediately met with a shirt shoved in my face.”
Brenda squawked at him, "We need L's for these shirts! Your guys' stock is terrible! There's practically nothing here!"
Behind her were two small boys, their arms full of merchandise, staring up at their fearsome mother. Arthur stared in disbelief at this woman. He didn't mind that she mistook him for a Disney employee (what with his Mickey Mouse t-shirt), but literally shoving t-shirts in his face was a step out of line. It took him a while to respond with a meek, "Excuse me?" But Brenda didn't like that. In an even louder voice, she yelled, "Just look in the back, I know you have more stock back there!"
"You're not supposed to take those things, read the signs," Arthur muttered, still reeling in shock.
"Those are samples, you're not supposed to touch them."
Brenda's face darkened. Things had been bad already, but they were about to get so much worse.
"Don't you tell me what I can and can't buy! Who's in charge here? Get me your supervisor, you're clearly UNTRAINED!" Brenda bellowed.
Arthur didn't know what else to say except, "Dude, I don't work here, I was just helping a friend."
Brenda retaliated with, "That's unfair treatment, just because they're your friend?"
Brenda couldn't be stopped, but Arthur had to do something more proactive if this situation was going to improve.
But what could Arthur even do? There was no way that logic or reason would help him in this situation. How do you deal with this much crazy in one person? Arthur's friend group had no idea of his struggle, as they were on the other side of the store in the checkout line. Thankfully, one of his friends called out to him to see where he was. Arthur desperately needed help and turned around towards his friends, when Brenda's words stopped him dead in his tracks.
“Stop right there,” she stated. “You’re supposed to serve ME! Not THEM! You speak English, so you’re supposed to help the American customer, not one of your Chinese! I can’t find the right sizes!”
Arthur couldn't believe the atrocities coming out of Brenda's mouth. He thought how, "It was like I was her PTA mom-friend she was confiding in about some Asian kid getting the valedictorian position over her own PRECIOUS BABY."
Brenda's criticisms didn't even make any sense. Was Arthur an untrained employee? Or was he only trained for American customers? There was no answer to any of this, so Arthur was left speechless. As the silence grew between the two of them, so did Arthur's anger and his desire to fight back.
Arthur refused to turn around and look at this woman. He was seething with rage. The only thing he could sputter out was, “I’m not an employee, and you’re a monster.”
Brenda had no initial response. That felt good. That gave Arthur a shot of confidence. He turned around to confront her head-on.
“You aren’t my problem,” Arthur said with a gleam in his eyes.
Brenda gasped and ambushed Arthur in a flash. Arthur barely had enough time to raise his arms in self-defense. She tried to beat him with the clothing hanger wrapped up in her large shirt, but he was able to successfully swat it away. He rushed towards the door. He wasn't accustomed to this violent response and had no idea how to handle it. Arthur desperately needed help.
Arthur spied his friends, still over by the checkout line. He sprinted towards them, panting as he relayed to this group all of this necessary information. They didn't really buy Arthur's panic, they thought this was just him trying to pull another odd prank or something. Couldn't Arthur just wait another few minutes for each of them to finish their purchases? Not according to Brenda. Her piercing roar got the attention of everyone inside. Brenda's response dripped with condescension. There was no way that Arthur could escape this gift shop on her watch.
The manager had heard all of the screaming and tentatively walked out of his office to see what was happening. Brenda slowly turns to the manager, barely able to contain herself.
"Your. Worker. Attacked. Me," she uttered in short, bitter spurts.
The manager reeled as if Brenda had punched him in the stomach. He had already had the worst day. Unruly guests, lost children, and now this woman. He was at his breaking point. His eyes welled up with tears, but he was petrified. He couldn't speak, for he was utterly terrified of this woman. He wouldn't do anything as Brenda launched into another tirade, calling Arthur some horrible slurs in the process.
There was no way that Brenda should be allowed to get away with her behavior. If the manager wasn't going to help, then it was up to Arthur. He walked up to the rtrembling manager and told him in Chinese, "She's crazy and just tried to hit me. She thought I worked here and that I didn't want to help her."
While they quietly discusses in Chinese, Brenda resorted to screaming repeatedly, "THAT'S HIM! THAT'S HIM!" as if she were conferring with the police. The manager could do nothing. Apparently none of the theme park's security officers were available at that time. Arthur would have to face Brenda alone. After much shouting, Brenda finally realized she was being ignored, and her only option left was actual physical violence.
Brenda grabbed the poor manager, shaking him to and fro and screaming right into his quivering face about how Arthur should be fired. The manager, who could barely speak English, managed to wriggle free and deliver a firm, "No touch!" while wagging his finger.
Brenda was appalled. No one was going to help her get her way. She had no more tools at her disposal. She immediately collapsed on the floor, wailing and beating the ground in one of the biggest temper tantrums the park employees had ever seen. A crowd gathered to observe this development. None of the bystanders would intervene, as they were terrified for their own safety. Some of them pulled out their phones and began filming this woman, hoping to find solace in the humor of her breakdown.
Brenda gasped out, "NEVER! IN MY LIFE! No one has disrespected me like this! I have spent 6 years in China! YOU ARE THE WORST!" while pointing a beefy finger in Arthur's direction. Arthur couldn't understand how this woman had spent 6 years in China and refused to pick up even a tiny bit of the language. An uncomfortable silence entered the room. The crowd shifted its attention to Arthur, wondering what his response would be. Arthur knew that if he didn’t speak his mind, if he didn’t let loose some of his swirling torrents of thought, that he would regret it for the rest of his life.
“Your behavior is disgusting,” Arthur declared, standing over the upset woman. Arthur was doing his best to keep himself in check, but he was barely hanging on. He wanted more than anything to have a good cry, to let out all of the anger, fear, and exhaustion that was building up inside of this gift shop. But he didn't want to do all of that with Brenda gazing up at him, he wanted to be done with her first.
"NO!" Brenda screamed. "You're a rude brat! I'll make sure my husband gets you fired! You've ruined my boys' day!"
Arthur also couldn't understand how anyone would marry this woman. Her two young sons had been watching all of this chaos unfold, and they were terrified. They cowered by the corner outside of the crowd, occasionally peering through people's legs to witness this abominable outburst directly, as if they couldn't believe what they were hearing.
"Well go ahead," Arthur exclaimed. "I don't work here. I don't need anything from you. You're a monster."
Brenda remained on the floor, the power vanishing from her person by the second. She sputtered, desperately racking her brain for the words that would turn the tables and help her win this altercation. Brenda knew that she had to appear composed in order to get her way, despite having just depicted the exact opposite to the crowd. There was no use in her struggling anymore, she certainly wouldn't be getting her merchandise (or coming to the theme park again for that matter).
Arthur slowly but surely walked back over to his youth group, their jaws still wide open. "Let's go," Arthur stated in Chinese, startling his silent peers back into reality. They dutifully followed Arthur, all while being in awe of his fierce bravery. They collectively decided that The Cheesecake Factory was the right place to celebrate survival amidst such an intense altercation. Their youth pastor met up with them, and Arthur recounted his harrowing tale. The youth pastor couldn't believe what he was hearing. What could you say when your student went through such a traumatic ordeal? The pastor agreed that there wasn't anything else Arthur could have done in the moment, and was he hoped that Arthur made it out of the gift shop with his sanity intact.
And that concludes Arthur's mortifying experience at one of the most magical places in the world. Arthur wasn't going to stand there and take this verbal and physical abuse, so he fought back against the vicious Brenda. The more that Brenda exposed her insidious nature, the more determined Arthur became to stand up for himself and the poor, defenseless manager. Arthur was clearly the bravest of anyone in the gift shop, and his friends viewed him with a newfound awe after watching this ordeal.
We don't know what happened to this monstrous woman, but she at least must have been banned from Disneyland Shanghai. Hopefully, her two sons found the support they needed after witnessing such unspeakable aggression. Perhaps their father was much more rational and compassionate than his spouse, and his sons could turn to him in their time of need.
This story reveals how you never know who you'll encounter in public. No matter where you are, now matter how well things are going, the person you encounter could be this close to erupting. Hopefully, you can prepare yourself in the event of such chaos, and you bring along far more courageous friends.