For weeks on end this photo was shared, usually accompanied with captions suggesting the posters were going to try this on their next visit to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, etc. It became viral and died off fairly quickly, most likely because the characters weren't responding like this in reality when visitors yelled "Andy's Coming." Even snopes.com debunked the myth so those curious about its validity could find out in a snap.
Ever since, this has been the source of plenty of jokes and discussion, and I'm writing this to provide my take on the whole thing, which to be honest left me sick to my stomach.
As background info, I have worked in the service industry for the past six years to put my way through school, and since become sensitive to the fact that people who work in retail, food service, and even Cast Members, are human beings with feelings and the same physical capacities as any other human being. I always treat them as such because that's how I like to be treated when I am working to help others. The tendency to dehumanize these types of workers is widespread however, for whatever of the plenty "reasons" I've heard. Some customers take advantage of their perceived power in a situation, or become obsessed with the word "service" and take it to a level where they believe they are above the employees. Ultimately, there will always be people in the consumer position who don't view those in the service industry as equal and are only happy when they get their way.
This is exactly what's happening here. People are believing what they've just seen in the above photo is an exclusive tip that will make their trip special and different. But they're not taking into account that there are people in those costumes. Should these people respond to the command they would be falling on the ground in a huge costume, which can in no way be comfortable and may actually be painful, especially if done repeatedly. If they found this image on Facebook or another large social networking site, they should be able to deduce that many, many people have seen it, and therefore many, many people are trying this. But it seems they don't and are only interested in this "secret trick" for themselves, never mind the physical toll they are taking on the character actors, again, people.
Now I'm hearing reports of guests complaining that the Toy Story characters don't do this anymore, or that their trip was ruined because of it. I can't believe they don't hear the selfishness in their complaints. If the physical safety was the first thing I thought of when I saw the image, I wonder if I'm alone in that and if it just isn't even taken into account by most people. I've also heard the atmosphere around these characters in the parks is ruined as well as an entire line waiting to meet Buzz and Woody is typically all yelling "Andy's coming!" one after the other hoping for a response that they never get.
I'm really hoping the gradual decline in interest and sharing fades away completely soon. But there will always be instances of this dehumanization, even in the Disney Parks. I've already seen another image being passed around a few sites of a way to "troll Disneyland employees." I'm not going to share it here since I'm hoping it won't go viral to the degree of "Andy's coming," but stuff like this just hurts my faith in humanity.
If you encounter any service workers or Cast Members this week I know you will treat them as human beings and with the same common decency you would anyone else. We love to hear we are appreciated and really love helping people when we are treated appropriately.