In February of 2014, I was ecstatic to receive a job offer from a local waterpark in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. The idea of hot summer days filled with the smell of sunblock, laughter, and access to the biggest pool in town was calling my name. After a few legislative sessions at the Texas Capital as an animal rights lobbyist, it seemed like a relaxing change of pace. Trust me, few things are scarier or more stressful than trying to get animal rights laws passed in the Lone Star State.
I remember my first walking tour of the property vividly, because even though it was a bright and sunny day, the park gave me a sense of eeriness I couldn’t shake. You see, I started my new job during “off-season.” This meaning that the water was drained from the pools, the lively colored umbrellas and décor were placed in storage, and the once vibrant atmosphere was somewhere in storage. The wreckage of boats, old buoys, and broken surfboards that undoubtedly add to the theme of the park when it is in full swing, only added to my discomfort on that day.
I was informed as I left for lunch, to make sure to secure doors and gates behind me as my coworkers had occasionally encountered some unexpected visitors. In the past there had been a few homeless individuals who had snuck in in search of shelter from the sun, a bathroom, or perhaps a lounge chair to nap on. However, with the waterpark located just off the 3rd third-largest port in the United States, our most common visitors came in a variety of species. When we walked the park in the mornings, something we did daily, we’d often be stared down by a stray cat in search for food, a crab that was dropped by a bid flying by, a snake looking for a new home, or even a fox hunting for seagulls atop a waterslide.
My favorite critter was Rocky, a devious racoon that found the most creative ways to make way into our office. His favorite pastimes included peeing on keyboards, spinning on office chairs, and eating snacks from our gift shop. It wasn’t unusual to find him in the park napping in the shade, taking a sip from a puddle in the pools, or peeking at you from behind a bush. Odd happenings were simply part of the norm at the waterpark, and that is not even mentioning the human guests.
On a quiet afternoon, only a month or so of being at my new job, I heard shuffling noises from the other side of my office wall. The wall that my desk sat against, was shared by the gift shop's storage room. I assumed my coworker, Ally, was moving inventory boxes around preparing for a quickly approaching opening day. Ally and I were the only two people in the office as other’s were taking some time off before the summer got hectic.
Thinking that she might need a hand with boxes and that I needed a break from my own duties, I began walking over. To my surprise, I found Ally at the front desk. When I told her about the noises we immediately thought of Rocky. That chubster of a racoon had probably managed to sneak in for snacks again!
Ally’s office connected to the stock room, and the stock room connected to the giftshop, which is a pretty sweet set up for her as the retail manager. As we walked through her office, we made it a point to talk extra loud as to warn Rocky of our presence and scare him back out to the park. We swung the door open expecting to find Rocky eating cookies like a scene from Pocahontas, but instead we found nothing. Nothing broken, no cookie crumbs on the floor, no boxes shifted. Which felt much worse than a staring contest with a wild racoon.
We fully stepped into the stock room, leaving the door leading to her office open, to get a better idea of what was going on. The door to the giftshop was cracked open, which was not the norm, and as we inched closer to the entrance to the giftshop to see if perhaps whatever had been in the stockroom had escaped that way, both doors into the stock room slammed shut. We screamed and ran back out through her office, past the common area, and right out of the building not looking back. We took a rater long lunch and convinced ourselves over a slice of pizza that it was probably a draft caused by the air conditioning.
The Park went into full swing shortly after, there were lots of noises, but none of them strange. The sounds of children screaming from excitement, employees gossiping in the stockroom, radio chatter from cabana attendants, and lifeguard whistles filled the summer causing us to forget that uncomfortable incident from a few months ago.
When off season rolled back around, my office had become a bit of a storage place for my office mate, the maintenance manager. The summer had kept him too busy to organize, and me too busy to spend much time in my office. But a few weeks into the off season, having to stepping around pool filter replacement parts, boxes, and tools became a source of tension.
One morning, as I was rushing around my desk to answer a call, I stubbed my toe on a toolbox… the pain and frustration caused me to entirely lose my shit. I started yelling at my office mate all about this place being a total wreck but was immediately silenced when a pen from his desk flew and hit the wall across the office. We stared at the pen that bounced off the wall and now laid at my feet in disbelief. “Did you just fucken throw that at me?” I accused. He denied it, but he didn’t need to. We had both seen it happen. We both knew he didn’t move. It had flown across the room on its own. We were both moving now, rapidly, out of the office. Whatever, or whoever, was in there clearly needed some space and time to calm down too.
Over my tenure at the waterpark a similar pattern continued. The summer brought no weird occurrences to note, at least none of the paranormal kind. Perhaps it was simply too busy and too loud for us to notice. But during the off season, things would change and everyone at the office was aware. We knew not raise our voices in anger, as that seemed to trigger doors getting slammed in the distance or items falling off surfaces. It wasn’t uncommon to hear our receptionist greet someone after hearing the front door open and shut, but no one ever turn the corner. The magnetic motion sensor that released the door leading the office building into the park was constantly triggered 3 or 4 times a day, never in a pattern, by nothing.
This became our new normal. While we never actually saw anything, the office consensus was that "whatever" or "whoever" was with us felt playful and not malicious. Just a mischievous something that who found it funny to open and shut random doors, occasionally hide things, and did not appreciate conflict. When something happened and anyone questioned an odd noise, we'd nonchalantly explain "oh it was probably the ghost" as if it were a rational reason. When someone got loud, we'd remind them "don't piss off the ghost." We got so comfortable with its presence that eventually we'd wish it a good night as we closed the office down to go home.
My most memorable interaction with our office ghost was in the middle of my last summer at the waterpark. It has been an unusually busy day, a group of coworkers and I hung around the parking lot laughing and telling those great stories you only get when you work in the hospitality industry. As one of them reenacted the scene from of two mom’s fighting over an inner tube, I couldn’t control my laughter and felt the sudden urge to pee. Without thought, I quickly walked right back into our office building, making a beeline for the bathroom not bothering to turn on a single light. Brilliant, I know.
I quickly pulled my kaki shorts and undies down in a swift motion and sat on the toilet peeing in the dark. It wasn’t until I started hearing music coming from a nearby office playing faintly that I scolded myself for not having turned on the lights. I hurried my business along, switched the bathroom light on, and started to wash my hands without the courage to look in the mirror over the bathroom sink. As I washed my hands, I could hear the music getting slowly but progressively louder. As I listened, I realized the sound was coming from the office directly next to the bathroom. MY OFFICE. By the time I was grabbing a paper towel to dry my hands it was like a goddamn Nsync concert on the other side of the wall!
I said bye bye bye to that bullshit and ran the fuck out of the building. I stormed off towards the parking lot taking inventory of everyone there. I wanted to know who the asshole was who decided to follow me in and scare me. Yet, to my dismay, everyone was accounted for. I told them what happened and warned them that I would find out who was behind this little joke and get them back 10-fold. They looked confused but reassured me, through many laughs, that it wasn’t them. They teased about me having spent too much time in the sun and becoming delusional, yet no one dared to go back inside and check it out for themselves.
During my last few weeks at the waterpark, things went back to our unusual usual. Just clicks here and there, doorknob wiggles, and sometimes that sense of being watched. Since leaving my job at the waterpark, I have not had any weird or inexplicable experiences. I must say, out of all the co-worker’s I’ve had it, that little prankster was far from the worst!
Ps. I left the waterpark unnamed out of respect for my previous employer… but if you put in any effort into researching it, I am sure it is quite easy to find. If you do any in depth research into the property, you will learn that it used to be a cotton mill. Perhaps one of their former employees is still hard at work.