Certain professions in life require an extra dose of persistence. While some would call persistence an admirable quality, it can also be a breeding ground for awkward. Like the stink on an old potato you forgot was under the sink, the awkward grows at a slow but steady pace until one day, you just want to gag at its overwhelming stench.
Old Potato Persistence – Telemarketers, door-to-door salesmen, and Ryan Seacreast have it mastered. The beautiful thing about OPP is that it consistently produces the same four stages of reaction: Pity, Polite, Pretending (you can’t hear them) and finally, Peter-Panned Off.
In order to prepare for the D23 Expo, Disney schooled their worker bees in the ins and outs of OPP. Each day of the Expo the D23 lackeys – or as I like to call them, the Yellow Perils (notice the reference to the Haley Mills classic ‘Summer Magic’) stood ready to hand out a yellow card asking for your name and information. With a fistful of tiny wooden golf pencils and a can-do attitude, their goal was to get your information over and over and over again – thus creating an Old Potato Persistent Awkward experience.
Stage One: Pity – During day one, we just felt bad for the Yellow Perils. After all, they were just trying to bring home the bacon like everyone else. Poor Yellow Perils – they had to miss out on all the fun and additionally were at a high risk for paper cuts, which are the worst cuts of all. So upon request, we filled out the card and threw them a bone by even giving out our real email address. Disney had our info, we were in line to see Bob Iger and everything was right with the world.
Stage Two: Polite – After exiting the kickoff keynote session, we spread throughout the convention center with the drive and determination of a wildebeest during the Great Migration. Only moments into our exodus, we were stopped by a second Yellow Peril. Pausing slightly we politely responded, “We’ve already filled one out, but thank you,” and continued on our way. A few meters later down swooped another Yellow Peril with card in claw. With a smile and shrug we replied, “No thank you.” Five or six YP bombings later, our smiles were fading, but each inquiry was still given a mother-pleasing polite “No thank you.”
Stage Three: Pretending No One Is There – Somewhere around noon on day two, we crossed over into stage three of pretending we could no longer see nor hear the Yellow Perils. Though it had been awhile, we reverted back onto two key skills we had cultivated during our teenage years: 1. The ability to drown out un-welcomed requests like, “Will you please empty the dishwasher and clean your room?” and 2. The classic, eyes-to-the-ground maneuver used to avoid ex-girlfriends and boyfriends or a teacher scanning the classroom looking for someone to come to the board. Like the finest of call-screeners, we cold-shouldered the Yellow Perils until the day was done.
Stage Four: Peter-Panned Off – By day four, I had been asked to fill out a card at least 22 times. (No lie – I kept a tally.) Yellow Perils were being poached right and left by D23 attendees who were completely Peter-Panned off. Gone were the feelings of pity, politeness and pretending. Tones were sharp, faces were frowny and the Yellow Perils were beginning to cower in any free corner they could find.
A lot of YP’s were never the same after those four days and we’re not proud of what we did to them. Like the Tiki Room Under New Management, Old Potato Persistent Awkward turned us into something we were never intended to be. This isn’t the way Walt would have wanted it, but all we can do now is look to the future and pray our inbox isn’t over run with D23 spam.