I have a bad habit of working in haunted places. I think I’ve worked in at least 4 in my career as a bar and restaurant manager, the last one being the most active. I am either drawn to these places, or something has been following me.
The first one wasn’t too bad. It was in a bar that has been around forever and had a history of unexplained happenings. The bar was in the basement; our kitchen and restaurant were above us. We closed on Sundays, but on one Sunday I opened for an event. I got there early to set up. I can’t remember what I was doing at the time, but I heard someone walking upstairs in the restaurant/kitchen. I thought that our purchasing manager might be there and went up to say hi. When I got to the back door of the kitchen, I found it locked. This was odd, but I thought she may have locked herself for whatever reason. I walked around to the front of the building only to find that locked as well. Looking in the windows, I swear I saw someone walk away in the back of the room. I called her to tell her I was here and not to be alarmed if she heard something downstairs in the bar. She had no idea what I was talking about. She was at home. No one was in the restaurant.
Another time in the same bar, I had a guest come outside to smoke. She was clearly troubled. I asked her if something was wrong; she answered with a question about if there has been any reported paranormal activity in the place. Long story short, it was a quiet night at the bar and she used the restroom. She said she was the only one in there when she walked in. She was sitting in one stall when she heard the door to the stall next to her slam. Hard. The door to the bathroom makes a very loud, distinctive squeak when it opens, and she swore that no one came in while she was in there.
Nothing happened to me in the next place; it focused mainly on one of my coworkers. It would do mischievous things like push cups off the shelf and change the radio stations while we were getting ready for the night. One time, it pushed an entire bottle of Jack Daniels off the shelf. When we heard the crash, we looked down the bar to the two people sitting there. Their eyes were wide. They watched the bottle slide from the shelf all by itself. No one else was in the building but us.
On to the main event. The last place I worked was an old house built at the turn of the 20th century. It had been re-purposed as a restaurant for years before I started there, but I don’t think all the prior residents left. When I first started there, I joked with the staff, asking if the place was haunted. All the long-term staff said yes without hesitation. A prior manager of the bar told me a story about how he set all the menus on the tables, went to the office for a second, and when he came back, all the menus were flipped upside down. It didn’t take long for me to confirm that something was going on in this place.
The restaurant was four stories: office on the top floor; seating area on the second floor; kitchen and bar with some seating on the first; and the basement housed the prep kitchen, beer coolers, and storage. Activity was present on all floors. Almost every morning at around 6 am, the doorknob to the office floor would jiggle like someone was trying to open the door. Alarms to the back receiving area would trip when they weren’t set. One of the cooks reported someone walking around in the basement when he was down there prepping. At the end of one night, I was using the restroom on the first floor when “someone” ran down the stairs to the basement then right back up to the first floor. When I walked out to the main seating area, one of the cooks was sitting there. I remarked that he was brave running downstairs in the dark. He just looked at me, then swore that he hadn’t moved from the spot he was sitting in. One morning, I was speaking to the director of operations and we both heard a loud bang from the second floor. He asked me what happened. I blamed it on Reggie (I had named the ghost Reggie and had a feeling that it was a little boy for some reason). Asking who Reggie was, I told him that it was our ghost. Using some colorful words, he told me I was crazy; he was a non-believer. I went upstairs to check on the noise, and as we were the only two people in the building, the noise went unexplained. Activity was so common, staff would just ignore it or tell Reggie to cut the shit. Most of it was innocent enough. That is until he almost burned the building down.
One of the good things about this company was we closed on holidays. It was Memorial Day weekend when this happened. I was training a new manager at the time, I’ll call him Mark. I had a specific routine when I closed, and I have never had an issue when going through said routine. At the end of the night, Mark and I were going through the kitchen, checking everything and making sure everything was turned off. This included physically turning the knobs to the grill, stove, and oven. During these rounds, Mark and I noticed a pilot light for one of the burners was out. Mark took a toothpick, lit it on another pilot light, and lit the extinguished one. Now, if you have ever tried to light a burner with the gas open, you know you will get a face full of fire for your efforts. This did not happen to Mark. The pilot lit, and we made our way through the rest of the kitchen and closed for the night.
The next day we were open, I was met by the executive chef and he was not happy. The executives were responsible for checking on the restaurants on days we were closed. He was the one that checked my store. When I asked him how everything looked, he told me that I had left a burner on overnight and he was pissed. He took me back to the kitchen and sure enough, there was a large black scorch mark on the backsplash of the stove. Knowing full well that I hadn’t left a burner on, I went to look on the security cameras. There I was, walking through with Mark, turning all knobs off. Mark could be seen lighting the pilot. Then we both were seen finishing our checks and leaving. The security cameras were motion sensitive. About 10 minutes after we turned the lights off and left, the cameras went dark. Sometime after, the kitchen camera activated. A minute or two later, the burner that Mark had lit the pilot for fired to life full blast. If that burner was turned on when Mark lit the pilot, he would have been missing some eyebrows. The only regret I have is not getting a copy of the footage. I may have been able to forgive Reggie for almost getting me fired (no pun intended) if he didn’t follow me home a couple of times.
At home, I had my shoes next to the door. One was on top of the other, almost perpendicular. When I walked by, the top shoe moved and landed next to the bottom shoe. I didn’t think much of this; weird stuff happens sometimes. And if that was the end of it, or if it was isolated to just shoes moving, I would have been okay with it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t isolated to just moving shoes. I woke up suddenly one night for an unknown reason. I didn’t hear anything, but something felt off. I looked over to the other side of the bed and saw a shadow hovering over my girlfriend. I couldn’t make anything out at first, but then it moved. Cliché as it may be, it was darker than the shadows in the room, and it had a human shape. Heart already pounding, it nearly burst from my chest when the shadow “stood up” and then moved toward the door of the bedroom. I turned on my bedside light and jumped from bed waking her up in the process. I told her to stay in bed and went to look for whatever was just there. The door was still closed, all doors and windows were locked, and nothing was in the apartment. I have my ideas about what it was, and it was not necessarily Reggie. After that, not much happened as far as activity in that apartment. I have recently moved in the last few months and my dog has taken to the habit of sitting on the corner of my bed and staring at something in the corner of the room. He doesn’t growl, he doesn’t whine; he just stares. When I call him, he looks back at me, then turns back to whatever has his attention. Maybe Reggie is back.
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