Mousters Degree

The Summer Of ‘88

My initial college experience (see What I Remember When I Try To Forget – Part 2 from July 2021) ranks as mediocre.  In fact, I knew the college program at Walt Disney World recruited there, and thus the primary reason I attended my university.  The prospect of leaving the Midwest for Florida for a summer sounded blissful.  I applied, I was accepted, and I spent three months soaking in the Florida sun, dating a Jungle Cruise skipper, and living a life of my choosing.  Welcome to adulthood.  In hindsight, my brain wasn’t fully developed and my choices likely reflected that lack of development, but in the moment, who cares about that kind of stuff?  I spent the summer between freshmen and sophomore year in Florida and getting paid.

I arrived after Memorial Day, assigned to a brand-spanking-new apartment complex, and loved every moment as if I was living my best life.  I was just too young to realize I was living my best life.  My blond hair lightened for the last time, I watched a lifetime’s worth of fireworks, and I worked full time for the first time and finally felt independent.  I attended classes, I met people who didn’t know my parents, and received my first (and second) nickname, and I loved being my own person.  Even after I returned to college in the fall, I came back to Florida three more times during my life, but never with as much freedom and as free a spirit as I enjoyed during the summer of 1988.

My First 401k

Like most Disneyphiles, collecting memorabilia begins with day one on the job and continues throughout one’s career.  Due to the popularity of the iconic mouse, most employees (also known as cast members) retain much of their trinkets and collectibles.  Whether decorating one’s “Disney room” or just saving boxes of random corporate handouts, it’s difficult to part with most objects just in case they someday have value on eBay.  Often referred to as a 401k, the growing stash of iconic images may or may not equate to an actual retirement nest egg.  To this day, I still have a tiny amount of collectibles, and I’m not even 100% certain where I have them stashed.

More than two decades on, in the course of moving yet again, I am faced with deciding what value my faux 401k actually possesses.  I expect much of the bottom line fills my mind more than my retirement account, and when I finally part with a few items, I start with the larger objects that I realize are either taking up space of collecting dust.  During that first summer, I attend enough business classes to obtain a “Mousters” degree (one class short of a “Ducktorate”).  I carried the certificate and a handful of photos left over from that summer from house to house to house, until finally, I let go of the piece of paper that offered no academic or monetary value.  I still love that summer, though.  Whether virtues relinquished or professional voyages embarked upon cemented my memories, those three months offered me an education that no piece of paper could capture.

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