Friday was my first day at Salem’s 13 Ghosts. I looked vaguely like this dude. The majority of the animatronics were only semi-functional, so everything depended on the tour guides. When asked if I wanted to be a guide and recite script we weren’t supposed to memorize, or just scare people, I chose the latter.
I experimented with a few hiding spots–in a corner, behind the barrel with the dead body, next to the haunted mirror–but then I found the perfect spot: in plain sight. Being dressed as a skeleton, I fit right in with the dead pirates in “Captain White’s Room.” The room is also the most fantastic to see in 3D, because there’s a gang plank painted on the floor that pops out and appears to be two feet above “the water,” which is also painted on the floor. Guests are generally preoccupied with absorbing the sights. Plus, there is another actor dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow who distracts them as well. I just stand still while holding the cage containing the non-functional zombie parrot, and wait until the group is about to leave. Then I jump out and yell, “Give me your heads!” or “Vengeance!” or “AAAAAAHHHHH!” or whatever else feels right.
Apparently, I’m rather good at this. Very few people notice me, particularly not the family with the six year-old boy. I have little visual area in the mask, so to be fair, I didn’t see him. When the time came, I popped out and yelled, “There’ll be blood tonight!” Pleased with myself at the horrified reaction of the parents, I suddenly heard the siren wail of the small boy. There aren’t many jobs where you get paid to cause long-term psychological damage to toddlers. Lucky me. I just stood there, looked at his tear soaked cheeks and thought, “Dear God. I’m fantastic at this!” I’ve said it once, and I’ll continue to say it: I’m going to hell.
There was another group of semi-drunk, young professionals. It contained one of those guys who are so insecure about their masculinity, that they have to find every scare before it happens so they are never seen frightened. Then they have to point it out, make terrible jokes, and ruin everyone else’s time. Well, this dude was poking around in the pirate room, and completely missed me. Again, it was my time to shine, and I came to life and scared the crap out of his friends and even made him jump. Well, this guy was a big strong man, who couldn’t possibly be startled in a haunted house, so he actually steps up to me with his chest all stuck out, gets his face two inches from mine, and says, “This is the shittiest attraction I’ve ever seen.” Again, I should point out, I looked like this. He caught me completely off guard, so I fired back: “Maybe you should work here. Your breath is scary.” Not ideal for customer relations. At that point we were running on bravado, and just stared at each other. Man against skeleton. I started to wonder if I was going to fight a customer on my first day. Finally, he turned around to join his group, which had already left. Then he turned back towards me, and quickly started poking at things again. I asked him to move on, and he was kind enough to oblige. I’m working a ton starting this Friday, so I can’t wait to see what else awaits me.