This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sucking the fun out of innocent things

The Cleveland Arcade
As anyone who has ever tapped me on the shoulder without first announcing their presence can tell you, I have an outlandishly strong startle reflex. Sometimes I jump even after they announce their presence. On top of that, I've got this irrational fear of people in costume, which ranges from mild discomfort to abject terror depending on circumstances. 
Needless to say, this time of year is kind of a minefield for me, with all jumping and the startling. The other day at a music store, I walk past this motion triggered spooky hand thing as I walk in and as usual, I jump out of my skin. I usually don't get mad about boobie traps like that; I know my reaction isn't typical and it's all in fun. Maybe it's because you don't expect that sort of thing at a store that sells sheet music, or because the not terribly kind way the store staff snickered at my response, but this time, I was unusually annoyed.
And it suddenly made me realize that this time of year has got to be serious trauma for people with an actual reason to jump a mile when startled by spooky hand things - like PTSD. Like soldiers who just came home from fighting for our right to display spooky hand things. Like, that could be serious episode-inducing. And while people with PTSD can avoid the Halloween aisle at the drug store, and haunted houses, and Halloween parties. But one would assume stores where you buy sheet music to be relatively safe. 
So my public service announcement for the season is this: it's kind of uncool to startle people without their consent. So think about not doing it. And if you own a sheet music store that does have a spooky hand thing, consider not laughing at people who clearly aren't happy to be the butt of your joke.


Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Good point. I don't have a particularly strong startle reflex, but I don't appreciate people trying to "scare" me, either. (Unless it's my grandchildren...) Put PTSD into the equation, and it's a whole 'nother story.

A Cuban In London said...

I have to admit that many, many, many moons ago I used to startle people until one day when... something happened. I learnt the lessons. Good post and good point you are making. It's no fun doing the whole "scary" thing.

Greetings from London.

psychelyn said...

Halloween is fun as far as it stays fun. I like kids in costume, I like giving treats and hosting parties for them. But if spooky pranks involve adults especially scaring without consent, I think it isn't fair.