I was once kicked out of a haunted house. They accused me of being scary.
I clearly didn't understand why I was in the haunted house.
This was way, way back in the early 90s. The World of Terror haunted house was set up to raise money to fight drug abuse. They asked the Air Force for volunteers. Sure, I said. I'll work there.
So I arrived and some young man gave me a Freddy Kreuger mask and a hand with long fingernails. He put me behind a wall with a cut out. On the other side was a dimly lit hallway - the haunted house, which, as a house, had hallways and mirrors and scenes of horror. People would walk through. "Scare them," were my instructions.
My hallway had a corner about six feet down from my cutout. I learned that people were really worried about going around that corner. So I waited until they were edging past. They I would slowly reach my hand out toward their necks, heads and shoulders. Seeing the hand, then the mask, they would scream.
I had great fun.
Complaints began. "You're scaring my children," a mother told me. "Stop it."
"Sorry," apologized the man put in the haunted house to scare people.
But perhaps influenced by the house's evil nature, he thought, why are you bringing your children into a haunting house to be scared if you don't want them scared?
Management came back. "What are you doing?"
"Scaring people by reaching out for them, like this." I demonstrated.
"Well, stop it. You're scaring people."
I was totally beyond being plussed. "I thought I was here to scare people."
"You're scaring them too much. There have been complaints. Tone it down. Try to scare them without scaring them."
I guess that's like hurting someone without hurting them. "I'll try," I replied.
But, tragically, I was raised as a non-practicing hard working Protestant. We didn't go to church - except on Christmas and Easter, of course - but we believed in the three H - Heaven, Hell, and Hard work. I was put there to scare people and I was taught to do my best so, by God, I was going to scare them.
There were many people who got the whole idea, demonstrating that they did by shrieking in terror and then laughing their asses off at their reactions. It was delightful.
But there was another mother, with more children. When I saw the children coming, I removed the mask and just waved the hand at them as the children approached.
Too much, too much. Management came back. "You need to tone it down. We've gotten more complaints that you're scaring people too much."
"Yes, sir. I'll try not to scare them. We wouldn't want that in haunted house."
I could see in his look that Management didn't like my attitude.
Break time arrived. Management sought me out. "We're going to replace you. We'll find something else for you."
"Oh, okay." I turned in my mask and gloves and left without saying anything else, dismayed that I was being replaced for being too scary in the haunted house. And the next year, I passed on volunteering there.
The whole previous year's experience had just scared me off. It was a shame, though.
I was really scary.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com