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Archive for April 17th, 2008

Great Moments in Haunted House Customer Service, #1

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Over the last few years at the haunted house I work at, I have been “promoted” from actor to security. The only real disadvantage to being security is that you don’t get as many scares in as you do when you are an actor in a scene.

The advantages are that I get much less sweaty, tired and beat up. You don’t have makeup and blood to wash off at the end of the night. And occasionally you get to hear interesting customer complaints, which for the most part, you have to address professionally, no matter how hard it is to do so.

A couple years back, I am standing outside of the back door, wearing my security uniform and gear. My uniform consists of a black shirt with our logo on it and the word “STAFF” on the sleeve. My gear consists of a three cell Mag-Lite hanging in a pair of tiger-striped fuzzy handcuffs, that I bought at the local sex shop, which are looped through my belt. These are how you know I am official or something resembling it.

As this one group exits the building, one of the guys in the group is obviously pissed off. As soon as he spots me, he makes a beeline for me, and asks the obligatory question of the pissed off customer, “Do you work here?”

Realizing this may not be the best time to be a smart ass by pointing to the logo and the word “STAFF” that are clearly printed on my shirt, I ask him what I can help him with.

“I want to make a complaint.”

I already have a good idea of who the offending actor is, and I am pretty sure that this guys story is far from resembling the truth of the matter. Even so I did not expect the next words out of his mouth.

“One of your employees spit in my ear.”

“Somebody did what?”

“One of the guys in there, spit right in my ear, and got it right in the hole.”

Now I knew who did it, Todd. Todd was our house roamer that night. Todd is not the type to spit on anyone for any reason, but I know it was him because of where the guy described the incident occurred and just that fact that it was such a weird complaint, it could not be about anyone else but Todd.

Todd was the guy that when our Jack the Ripper got sick and needed to leave his scene to go puke, he jumped into the scene to take over while we found a replacement. Thing was, he was in a clown costume, but he still found a way to make it his scene. He stood over the fake dead hooker on the floor, with his pants around his ankles, and when people came by, he would yell, “This isn’t what it looks like. Someone killed my hooker. Call 911.”

Todd is a true haunted house professional, and a top notch veteran haunt actor. Seriously, you don’t get, “Someone killed my hooker” out of a rookie.

This particular night, Todd was dressed in his nun costume, vampire teeth, a full beard and a pair of nunchuks. (Get it… NUN-chuks). The name of his character is Sister Badtouch. Here is a photo of he and I having a fight, for the fun of it, in costume. I’m the one on the left.

Anyway, as the customer was telling the tale of this completely unprovoked, precision spitting into his ear canal, all I could think was, “How did Todd end up spitting in someones ear? This can’t be what happened. I have to get the real story.”

So after apologizing to this guy and getting him calmed down by assuring him that the offending actor would not be working here after Halloween, they eventually left. (I neglected to tell him that none of us would be working here after Halloween, but that bit of information might not have helped calm him down as much.)

Dying of curiosity, I immediately ran into the house to look for Todd.

I found him in some dark hallway traumatizing a group of teen aged girls.

I told him, “Some guy just complained to me that someone spit in their ear. What the hell happened?”

After he stopped laughing, Todd explained that throughout the night he had been using little chunks of Alka-Seltzer to make it look like he was foaming at the mouth. I already knew this as I saw him doing it and it looked great. (Seriously, you have to love the image of a rabid vampire nun coming at you with nunchuks). I also knew he had been foaming all night as there were little wet spots on the floor throughout the house, that I kept slipping on.

He went on to say, “I came out to scare that group and the guys were doing the usual, ‘I’m not scared of you, you suck thing.’ So I did what I usually do in that circumstance, I gave ’em a rasberry.” (For those unfamiliar with the term raspberry, it is also known as a “Bronx cheer” and according to George Carlin the real term is a bilabial fricative, but according to Wikipedia it is an unvoiced linguolabial trill).

So I asked him, how does that count as spitting in someones ear?

Todd explained that since he had been foaming at the mouth, he had a bunch of the foam still stuck to his beard and moustache, and when he gave the rasberry, it shot some of the foam straight into the guy’s ear. It was a lucky shot, really. A one in a million chance.

We laughed about it and finished out the night and later recounted the tale with the owner and the rest of the crew over some beers. We agreed that the Alka-Seltzer was a good effect but should not be repeated, and not because it might get on customers, we don’t care about that. We used to “joke” that if you made someone pee themselves in a corner, and it was all over the floor, scare the next group into the corner to mop it up. The reason the Alka-Seltzer was retired was because it made the floor slippery and in a haunted house, safety is the priority.

This has been just one sample of the kinds of customer service issues that one encounters when working in a haunted house. Someday I’ll tell you how we accidentally broke a quadriplegics high tech wheel chair, but, fortunately, managed to not shut off her life support.

Ah, good times.