What’s WRONG With People??


Here is a thing I do not understand.  And I know from reading the comments that some of you[1] do not enjoy haunted houses, so I put it to you:


Why do people who paid for the privilege of being scared get all aggressive about the fact that they got what they paid for?


Haunted house customer (on Ellen) flailing and shouting "STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!"

That’s not your safe word.



Here’s the thing: if my scare falls flat—it happens to the best of us; timing might be off, maybe they saw me coming, or I’m just not their cup of horrortea—I get mocked, hard.  The customer laughs, or they’ll throw my line/noise back in my face, or sometimes (mostly with my more diminutive coworkers, truth be told) they’ll get personal.



DECAYING MAID:  I had a customer point at me and shout, “YOU DON’T HAVE ANY PARENTS!
ME:  What?
CLOWN EATER:  … I don’t get it.
DECAYING MAID:  Like I, personally, don’t have parents.  Like he knows me and I—
STAGE 2 ZOMBIE:  That’s messed up.
CLOWN EATER:  What is wrong with people?
ME:  They’re fuckin’ savages, I tell you.
DECAYING MAID:  It was just so random, though!
ME:  Hang on… No, I get it.
ALL:  (turn to me)
ME:  See, he probably thought he recognized you, thought you were this person he knows.  An orphan.  Probably one who’s really sensitive about it… maybe they only recently lost their parents or something?  And he decided this was the moment—while you’re at work and he paid $30[2] to take a tour of your place of business—to mock you for being an orphan.  Only you’re not that person, so it just ended up being awkward for both of you and now he’s gone away confused about why you didn’t burst into tears.
DECAYING MAID:  (nodding)  Makes sense.
ALL:  (nod)
ME:  … Nobody’s going to comment on the fact that I spun that into a whole story about that guy being a garbage human who mocks orphans at work and is too stupid to identify the right one?
STAGE 2 ZOMBIE:  Yeah that got dark…
DECAYING MAID:  It made sense, though.
ME:  (shrugs)

creepy clown cartoon; text reads: "I work at a haunted house and yes, we do laugh and mock your reactions once you leave our rooms"


St. Louis’s finest hang out in front of my haunt.  Partly because we have line actors who keep them entertained but mostly—I believe—because we’re good for at least a couple of easy tickets every night we’re open.  Why?  People come out, having paid us to scare them, pissed off[3] about being scared.  Some of them decide to deal with these feelings by fighting amongst themselves, or with other customers, and the police are great at breaking that shit up before it even starts.  Some of them decide the best way to get full value for their dollar (having, statistically speaking, blown another $50-120 in the gift shop on the way out no matter how keyed up they are) is by breaking into the cars of the people they paid to scare them.


Problem: customers don’t know where we park.  They do figure out pretty quickly where other customers are parked, and that the police are watching for exactly this sort of activity.[4]

flashing red and blue police lights in the dark


It never ceases to amaze me, as I hide in my dark corner (or sometimes out in the open, if I’m feeling sassy) the number of people who talk outrageous amounts of shit about how they can’t get scared on the way in, talk shit about how we “cheated”[5] on the way out, and in between will cry, scream, and pick fights with inanimate objects.  (If only I had video of the guy who tried to fight a box.  An actual, ordinary, wooden box.  I am not making this up, and he wasn’t even drunk.)

"scumbag steve" meme: Pays $20 for admission ticket; tries to fight you when you scare him


Husband, of course, worries about this.  Knowing how dangerous and violent (there was an incident last year) things can get, he is much less a fan of the “I scared this guy so bad he tried to fight a prop” stories.



ME:  But that’s why we have security.  Because customers are basically wild animals.  Last year they broke a bunch of TV’s.
HIM:  Seriously?  What is wrong with people?
ME:  They get inside a haunted house and they revert to this really primitive state.  Some people’s most primitive self is a goddamned savage that pees on our crocodile[6] and smashes our TV’s.
HIM:  … Some people see something moving in a dark corner and throw their friend at it, yelling, “HERE, TAKE HIM!  (laughs)
ME:  (lifts superior eyebrow)  And aren’t you glad you know that about me?
HIM:  (smirks)  Yes.
ME:  In case of zombie apocalypse, you’ll be the one at the back all, “Okay guys, let’s just get through this.  Let’s just make it to the next building we can board up for the night” and I’ll be all, “Yeah yeah but also?  Let’s grab some babies while we’re out here.”
HIM:  (shocked)  Why babies?
ME:  (patiently) They—
HIM:  You’re just gonna throw babies to the zombies?
ME:  … And toddlers, if they’re around.  I mean, only if they’re available—I’m not gonna steal babies or anything—
HIM:  (horrified)
ME:  But… look, will the zombies get them anyway?
HIM:  I… probably…?
ME:  Then… isn’t it better we have them?  As a distraction?
HIM:  But then there’ll be zombie babies!
ME:  And I, for one, would rather face those!
HIM:  …
ME:  I’ve thought this through.

haunted house customers at moment of scare: one uses the other as a human shield, pushing her toward the perceived danger

“Human Shield” is a valid survival strategy.




[1] For reasons that will remain equally mysterious to me.

[2] Or whatever the fuck we charge—I honestly can’t keep track of it anymore.

[3] And, more often than you’d believe, pissed on.

[4] I’m told they get a lovely suite for the night, with loads of amenities and a free meal for their trouble, so that’s nice.

[5] Don’t ask me to explain that.  Apparently pretending to be a doll is cheating, hiding is cheating, and wearing a mask is cheating.  Also in the category of cheating: sound effects, props, following them, jumping around, having “secret tunnels” (we… don’t?  We just know our way around, because we spend more than one hour a year here) and—my personal favorite—“saying that shit.”  Side note: I am not aware of any game, so I fail to see how what I’m doing can be considered “cheating.”  I get paid a paltry sum to douse myself in blood and scream in people’s faces; if I’ve got to follow bullshit rules and win a game while I’m at it, I demand a proper salary.

[6] And if you think that got cleaned up quickly and didn’t smell for weeks on end… you’ve never worked in entertainment.




12 comments on “What’s WRONG With People??

  1. Rivergirl says:

    That’s just wrong. They pay you to frighten them, then get pissed when they pee their pants? How rude.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What really puzzles me is that their response seems to be inversely proportional to the actual damage done. Example: a puppet (not saying I was running it at the time, for liability reasons) knocks someone down. She has not disclosed a previous injury, and her knee is dislocated (again, apparently it happens to her a lot). She’s FINE, wants to continue, praises everyone for the good scares.

      Guy gets startled and screams like a wet kitten until his friends laugh at him. THAT guy wants to fight me. How dare I immasculate him?!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arionis says:

    Doesn’t make any sense. I go to haunted houses to get the shit scared out of me. I’ve seen people pay good money to go in and then use “chicken” exits to not go through the whole thing. Does your’s have those exits?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Staff escort quitters out to ensure they get out quickly, safely, and without damaging actors or props in the process. Once someone demands to leave we don’t keep them—this isn’t McKamey Manor.*

      Some people, for reasons that they keep locked up in the crazybox on top of their necks, go in hyped to fight. Some peope go in fully expecting that we—a FAMOUSLY scary haunted house—won’t be able to scare them and experience genuine outrage when that self-image is challenged.

      Also, some people just suck.

      *McKamey Manor, for those who are about to google it, is NOT a haunted attraction and I will fight you if you claim otherwise. I’ve met that sicko, and came away needing a decontamination shower.


  3. Sherry bucalo says:

    Because a lot of people are not dealing with a full deck. If my kids had been in school when I went all those years ago, someone would have eaten them up and spit them out. Heck we were just a lot tougher, we played dodge ball on concrete, now dodge ball is against the law i schools, scares me how far we have come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Offspring played dodgeball, though I never understood the point of it. (A coworker who was studying to be a phys. ed. instructor tried to justify it once, but the best he could come up with was, “It’s not that bad… it teaches unpopular kids to get better at sports!”)

      But for sure, some of these people never heard a trusted adult say, “Better quit that crying before I GIVE YOU something to cry about!” and it shows.


  4. alawrenceg says:

    I wouldn’t assume that zombie babies are easier to dispense with. They get more practice crawling without actually growing older.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As long as they don’t get any bigger I’m pretty sure I can take ’em. Plus? Even the fastest crawler can be taken out by a swift kick… or a slapshot! Oh my god we should TOTALLY start a baby zombie street hockey league!

      So many plans… zombie apocolypse better hurry TF up.


  5. I’m disappointed (but, honestly, not that surprised) to hear people can be such dicks about voluntary horror.

    PS I love your haunted house posts (they particularly fascinate me because there aren’t many in Australia. Halloween generally isn’t as much of a thing here, which is annoying because the older I get the more convinced I am that it’s the best holiday).

    Liked by 1 person

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