In my job there are often times that I have to protect areas that are off limits to most people. There are doors leading to back areas and hidden hallways that the kids like to explore. They traverse the hidden stairwells and find dark corners for doing dark deeds. In the are where I work, the parents see my employees as free babysitters. When their kids get into trouble, they would honestly not have to hear about it. That leaves me without a lot of leverage in most cases. I have to use what I have to thoroughly shock the kids into not repeating their offenses. In most cases, this means scaring them. Because of the pranks my brother and I would pull on one another as kids, this has been my field of expertise for a long time.
I had talked to, fussed at and down right yelled at a couple of kids practically all night last October 1st. I was getting tired of having to deal with this regular group of blatant trouble makers. When I heard them mention something about heading down one particular dark and secluded hallway, I decided to beat them to the punch line and really get their attention.
I raced through the back corridors and down a hidden staircase. I dashed to the hallway they had been talking about and ducked around the door. I stood there and listened. I held my breath, waiting for them to come around the corner. I heard nothing, but I knew patience was the key. I waited and waited and waited. And waited.
Just about the time I was going to give up, I heard voices walking down the hallway. It sounded like two guys and a girl. That matched the group I was waiting for. They came very close to where I was perched, waiting.
"I don't see the bathroom," the female voice said plainly. It was obvious they had no idea I was there, just waiting for them.
"It's down there," one of the male voices said. I knew he was pointing in the opposite direction from where I was hiding. The ladies room was at the end of the opposite hallway.
"Ah! Thanks!" I could tell from her footsteps that she was continuing down the hallway.
The whispering started then. I couldn't tell what they were saying, but it was obviously two males. Exchanges went back and forth, a full conversation at a whispered level. I stood patiently as still as a statue, waiting for the second they walked around the corner. I wouldn't need to shout or yell or scream. Just the mere fact I had beaten them there would be enough. I had it all planned out in my head. As soon as they walked around the corner, I would merely tell them "I don't think so, you're not to come back here again. If you do, it's trespassing and you'll be arrested for it." I was going to say it as calmly as possible, though I was starting to feel a little amped to say the least, knowing I was that close to catching them red handed. The whispering grew slightly louder and I knew they were coming closer.
"What about over here," the husky voice whispered to the other. It sounded older than a teen, but it was whispered.
"Yeah," the other responded. He sounded much younger. "That's the perfect spot." They whispered a bit more and came closer to my hiding place. "Let me check it out," he continued, barely around the corner from where I stood. I told myself not to pounce on the kid when he rounded the corner and gently cleared my throat without a sound.
I saw the shoe first, or the tip of it anyway. I opened my mouth to speak.
"I don't think so," I said as calmly as a murderer in a 1980's horror film. I had rehearsed so much that once the words started to flow out, I couldn't seem to stop until I ended my first sentence - but by then it was too late. I had already succeeded in making a 40-something year old man scream like a little girl and bring his wife running out of the bathroom, still trying to fasten her pants. The other man stood in the hallway, howling with laughter, doubled over at the waist and holding his rotund stomach with both hands. I half expected him to sprout a long white beard and Santa costume.
My victim in the mean time was gasping for air, clutching the wall for dear life.
"Oh," he gasped, "my," he took another breath, "Hell," he managed to shake out. "You scared the $hit out of me!"
I was apologizing profusely, spewing the word 'sorry' as often as I could in a single minute. As soon as he composed himself enough to stand on his own without threat of a heart seizure, I started to laugh uncontrollably out of complete embarrassment. Still saying I was sorry, I was greeted by them telling me that it was OK and there was nothing to worry about. Laughing with all three of them, we walked out of the hall together. I was consistently apologizing, but paused long enough to ask what they were doing in the back corridor. I explained my situation and they were more than willing to tell me their reasons.
"I wanted to scare my wife," he admitted sheepishly. Walking beside me, his wife froze.
"What?!" Shocked, she glared at her husband. Both men paused to wait for her, and I did as well. "Then you deserve what you got!"
The friend that had been with them hadn't stopped chuckling the entire time. Now he roared with laughter again.
I was too embarrassed to tell anyone at work what I had done for a couple of weeks. When finally I did, it was after shift on another weekend night. I was out back in what was once the smoking area with my shift partner and one of the guys that had just started shift, briefing. By the end of my story, they were all chuckling at me as I acted out each person's reactions, darting to and fro, mimicking each emotion down to the confused wife running out of the bathroom with toilet paper in her hand.
Durring the telling of my tale, several times I heard the familiar squeak of the back doors leading to an "off limits" staircase. Each time I would pause my story and take off running for the back doors, wanting desperately to stop the little intruders. Each time I came flying around the corner hollering.
"THIS is NOT an entrance. You need to go around!" Each time I was successful in scaring the pants off of the kids and each time, they went around to another official entrance. Then I would return to my position at the head of the table and continue to tell my coworkers the rest of the story.
I had just finished telling the story when I heard the door squeak again. Once more I flew on silent wings to the corner and bolted straight at the doors. I didn't get out anything but "Hey!" when a high pitched squeal pierced the night air. He screamed without shame, eyes as wide as a saucer, truly scared beyond belief. A rather rotund janitor named Peter had been going back inside after having a smoke break. To this day I'll never forget the octave he reached while still retaining his stature as a 5'7" 300 lb. History Teacher moonlighting as a janitor.
"What the Hell, Amanda?!" He breathed, grabbed the wall and his heart, one in each hand, and gasped. "I mean, What the Hell?! It's not even Halloween yet!" I howled with laughter, clutching my stomach and bending at the waist like the last victim's friend. Breathless, I tried to explain to Peter what was so funny. I couldn't seem to force the words out of my mouth, so I walked bent over at the waist towards my coworkers and beckoned Peter to follow. Tears streamed down my face and dripped on the concrete as I walked. Peter followed, bewildered.
"What the Hell is she laughing at," Peter asked the other guys. At realizing who the high pitched scream had come from and knowing he didn't hear the story, the other two instantly burst into laughter, failing to tell Peter the story. He sat there for a good five minutes before we could get out the gist of the tale. By the time we did, he was smiling at me like I had sprouted a monkey's tail from my forehead.
I still jump around corners every now and then trying to scare the kids, but I certainly make sure they're kids first. Where would I have been if the Big Guy had a heart attack?!