The Rest of the Story
The late Paul Harvey is one of my dad’s all-time favorite radio personalities. He especially loved his program, The Rest of the Story. These popular segments contained little known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects and always left out some key element of the story until the very end. That’s when Harvey would conclude with his signature tagline, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Although I never actually listened to the program myself, I started thinking about it on a family trip to Disney World last year. Even though our boys are teenagers, I insisted that we all go on the It’s a Small World ride. And yes, now that I am an adult I do realize how creepy and culturally insensitive those animatronic dolls are and how annoying that theme song can be. As I was about to get off the ride, this twenty-something young woman sitting behind us abruptly leapt over our seat, stepped on the bench next to me and exited the boat before we even had a chance to move, leaving her wet and dirty footprint behind as evidence. I immediately thought to myself, “Did that seriously happen? How rude!”
If I was more adept at social media, I probably would have instantly posted a picture of the muddy footprint with #itsarudeworldafterall. Instead, I decided I would retell this story on the way to Splash Mountain and use it as a teaching moment for our boys. But before I had a chance to even practice my rant, I noticed the same woman returning to the boat just as quickly as she had exited. This time she was pushing a wheelchair. As I turned around in my seat, I finally noticed a second young woman sitting behind us. It was obvious that she was physically challenged and unable to get out of the boat by herself. I then watched as her friend along with a few Disney cast members helped to quickly and carefully guide the young woman out of the ride and into the wheelchair. In another instant, they were gone. And I was speechless.
I sat in the boat dumbfounded by this sudden turn of events. I hadn’t said a word and yet I felt like such a heel. What I imagined would be a learning opportunity for my children was instead a life lesson for me. I considered how rashly I had jumped to conclusions, how quickly I summed up the situation in my head, how completely justified I felt in being annoyed, and, ultimately, how utterly wrong I had been. I had completely misjudged the situation and mistakenly relegated the full story into a mere headline taken out of context: “Girl rushes off water ride, rudely leaving dirty footprint in her wake.” And sadly, the difference between being ignorantly misguided and keenly aware was just a matter of seconds. I could have easily gotten off that ride and never seen the wheelchair or the young woman sitting behind me. I would have gone about my day feeling holier than thou, retelling that story to our boys and preaching about the importance of common decency and human kindness. Oh, the irony.
The problem is, headlines are easy to construct and the truth is often more complicated to understand. We know the world is complex, so we tend to stick with what’s simple. Indeed, it’s a world of laughter, and a world of tears. It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears. There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.
Yes, that experience still haunts me, almost as much as that theme song, which I still cannot get out of my head. I am pretty sure you will be humming it to yourself the rest of the day, too. I have since learned that the It’s a Small World theme song is currently played approximately 1,200 times a day at five different Disney theme parks around the world. It is one of the only Disney entities without a copyright so it can remain a true gift to the world. Of course, that doesn't make those dolls any less creepy, but it does make that song slightly less annoying.
And now you know the rest of the story.
Alison Lebovitz is a television host, speaker, nonprofit executive, podcaster and author from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who believes we each have the power and responsibility to make this world a better place. Or at least the potential to make each other laugh.
Visit her website at: alisonlebovitz.com