In September 2006 I made what seemed to me like a bold decision at the time, I decided to go to work at a new haunted attraction here in the Twin Cities.
It wasn't the first time I made such a decision. Years earlier I had applied, and been hired, by Spooky World, a one-stop shop for haunted fun and games, the first of its kind in the Twin Cities. That model is now the norm in the haunt industry, it seems, at least here in the Twin Cities.
But for a couple of key reasons I decided working at Spooky World wasn't the right fit for me, so I declined the job.
Years later I finally took the plunge, I decided to wear a costume and attempt to scare people. I was pretty good at it.
Some people are physically scary. Some people, not so much. Some people make weird, terrifying sounds or grunts. Some people have a great gift of gab when it comes to interacting with guests. I found ways to look scary and intimidating, scare people with sudden moves at unexpected times and dish out a variety of creepy and/or sarcastic comments.
What started as a four-weekend challenge to experience something I've long thought would be a lot of fun turned out to be a five-season job. I've blogged extensively about those experiences elsewhere. But not this year.
I knew at the beginning of the season, a season that now extends over seven weekends, it was most likely my last. There is a laundry list of reasons, and I won't go over them all tonight. All I know is that every weekend I was tempted to walk out, or retire abruptly at the end of the night. But I hung on through the season, opting to retire one day ahead of my last scheduled day in order to attend a pair of Halloween parties. I'm glad I did.
By the end of the Halloween season, we've all worked a lot of long hours on multiple Friday and Saturday nights, and are ready to be done working in our haunted maze for a while. That's no exception this season, but for me and possibly several others, we're not interested in going back.
Yes, a part of me will miss being a part of something that I've been with during its first five seasons, but I'm pretty sure I won't miss it that much, not when my memories of the 2010 season are all the things I hated about this year instead of all the things I loved.
Perhaps I stayed one season too long. But if I had left before this season, I'd probably have missed the experience, and wondered what I'm missing out on. At least I know I've hit the wall, and therefore won't regret my retirement.
I wish most of life's decisions were as clear as this one was.