Hi, and welcome to my blog. If you’re new here I’m currently smack dab in the middle of a 3 part series I’ve named (Mis)Adventures in Side Hustling. I’m documenting my failed side hustles since the start of our family’s debt free journey.
I really should have known better that my second side hustle would not be a good fit for me, but I wanted to embrace the uncomfortable. I imagined what a good story it would be for my blog, all the funny anecdotes I could share here – not the one I’m about to share! I imagined what a story it would be for the interviews I would be asked to be a guest on once we made our way in to a positive net worth.
Friends….. I auditioned to be a haunted house actor. And I was hired! And I worked one night.
I found the job listed on Facebook and decided to give the audition a try. I dreaded it so much because I am an introvert to the extreme. I like to drive my car home from work in silence just so I can think. I walk my dog every morning with no earbuds in, partly because of safety but mostly because I enjoy the silence. When my family is all off doing their own thing after dinner and time spent together I like to dim the lights, light a candle, and read a book… you guessed it, in silence.
So going to a haunted house and screaming my lungs out was not my idea of a good time! But I did it for you guys!
Auditioning wasn’t so bad. We were taken in to various spots in the haunt and planted there by an acting director. Then the owners walked through and we were given the opportunity to scare them. When I was sure they were coming, I started to breathe loudly so that they could hear me in the corner of my room and once they were looking I basically did a jump scare. I jumped up and screamed. I’m cringing just thinking of it.
When I actually came for my first night of work I was assigned to a room full of pin up magazine clippings. My task was to scare guests and scream about how I hate beauty since I’m so ugly. I might have been offended if I hadn’t been given this truly lifelike mask to wear.
Whenever I showed a picture of it people thought it was makeup!
My coworkers were all very…. Not my crowd. There were troves of men sitting around chewing tobacco, spitting on the ground, smoking cigarettes, and playing loud heavy metal music. Nothing against all of that (except spitting, I really hate spitting) but it’s just not my vibe. I sat quietly while I waited for the attraction to open just observing the bazaar mating — I mean flirting – ritual taking place around me with the very few women at the haunt.
Another thing about the haunt was that it was very sketchy. And by that I mean unsafe. Workers were paid cash and very little of it, but I was there more for the experience and the story which I dreamed of relaying to you, my readers.
Before opening, I went upstairs to my area. I gained access by taking a ladder through a hole in the ceiling which led to the next floor. When the attraction opens, the trap door to the bottom floor closes and doors leading to that area are closed. Other actors more familiar with the area had been jumping the 3 foot distance to the floor all night and walking down the next 2-3 stairs to get to the costuming and makeup area.
I decided to come back down because I needed my hospital gown for my costume. I could have taken the ladder back down but that would involve me turning backwards looking for purchase on a homemade ladder nailed at a 90 degree angle that I was unfamiliar with. I decided to do what all the cool kids were doing and make the jump.
I placed my hands on either side of the opening of the trap door, went to swing my legs down – and the toe of my shoe caught on the floor behind me! I pitched forward, my face barely missing the edge of the opening and fell 3 feet on to the wooden landing directly on my knees, tumbled, and fell down some of the wooden stairs as well before stopping.
I was really hurt. I was really embarrassed as well, numb but still able to walk so I decided to stay for my shift. I was able to get an ice bag for my legs and I went ahead and worked that night. Luckily my haunting assignment involved sitting at a vanity table in front of a broken mirror (really, were they trying to tell me something?) so in between guests I had my legs up on the vanity with the ice.
Even though I was really injured and I had a feeling of dread every time I knew guests were coming my way and I was going to have to perform, I smiled for days remembering my favorite guest reactions from my one day of haunting.
Guests came in to my room behind me. They didn’t often notice me until someone else in their party pointed me out, sitting in the corner rocking with my long hair all over my face. They had to get by me in order to move on to the next room, and I had worked out a cue with the girl (I do mean girl, she was 12) in the next location that when I said “Why do they always leave me?” they were then heading in to her room and she could start her haunt.
Here are some of my favorite reactions:
A couple and their poor 4 year old daughter. The little girl was terrified already and I could hear her coming because she was crying loudly. Poor thing! What cruel parents! Anyway when she came in my room, saw the door by me and I’m there looking creepy as all get out she says, “No no no no no no nooooo!”
A teenage boy in a group of guys. The guys had come in and were reacting rudely to my room (the pinup posters, remember) and didn’t notice me until one of the other guys pointed me out. The teenage boy says “Oh no that’s worst nightmare!” Happy to be of service, boys! Haha!
Some funny responses to my cue:
“Someone has to stay!”
“Have you seen your face?!” Me: “My mirror is broken!”
Little did they know that after lamenting their departure with fake tears, I would hobble back to my vanity and grocery bag of ice.
And every time I heard the bell clanging which let all the actors in the haunt know a new group of guests had arrived I would be so filled with dread that I would groan, and not always inwardly!
At one point, the 12 year old girl needed to use the restroom, and she asked me to cover her haunt spots and abandon mine. I needed to go in to a dog cage and pretend I was trapped there (on my knees! OUCH!) and then when the guests left that room I needed to run to another location, climb into a coffin, and struggle to get out while another actor held it closed. My job was to call for help and jostle the lid from the inside. On my mad dash getting in to the coffin, only the top section for funeral viewing was open and I wacked my shin on the bottom section meant to hide the legs.
When I limped around the next couple of days, it was fun to tell people that I banged my shin getting in to a coffin when they would ask what happened to me. Oddly enough, that wasn’t my first time in a coffin!
Finally, the night ended at about 12:30am and we all headed back down to the costume area. When I grabbed my keys to make my escape, I noticed my keychain wallet was open and the cash I had in it ($20) was missing. One of these people, after seeing the night that I had decided to rob me! My drivers’ license is on the outside of the same wallet so there’s no way they didn’t know who they were stealing from.
I collected my spoils from the night, $25 cash (a profit of $5 for the trauma I went through) and I told the owner that someone had stolen $20 from me. His response: “I don’t know what to tell you.” Granted, anyone could say that they had some money stolen in an effort to collect a bigger pay day but the haunted house had the biggest opening night in history with over 100 groups of 2-6 guests paying $15 each. He could have peeled off a $20 and made me whole.
I said “Then I’m not coming back, I’m not going to work with thieves.” And I hobbled off into the night with not even my dignity intact. In all honesty I was happy to have a valid reason to not come back. The only reason I even came in on the first day was because I felt like I owed it to the people that run the haunt. I had a location and if I didn’t show up they would be screwed! Once I saw that they had no feelings of obligation toward me, I was happy to give up my own misplaced feelings.
When I got home I was able to take a look at how bad my legs were.
Here is another view a couple days after:
At the time of this writing it’s been a little over one month since that incident. My knees don’t really hurt that much anymore except when I try to crawl in to bed on my knees or get on my knees to look for something under the furniture. I can’t do that. I hope that I’m not permanently injured!