Like many other professionals, haunted house actors (who call themselves haunters) are constantly negotiating the balance between customer expectations and their own standards for their work. Haunters continuously make snap readings of haunted house guests’ body language, determining how much of a scare they are really willing to handle.

And the correct word is “willing,” not “able.” Often, haunters encounter skeptical guests who don’t want to play along. Other times, guests have allowed their fear to overcome their rational minds, turning their excitement into hysteria.

Just like in most other customer service jobs, the haunters’ catering to their guests’ expectations is exhausting and often frustrating. So while most haunters will tell you the job is intrinsically rewarding, they’ll also admit to taking pleasure in giving someone a healthy fright every now and then. After all, they are experts in scare tactics.

Thanks to the candid haunters and the great people at Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery Monster Museum in Salem. Find them at: nightmaregallery.com

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