Working at Chuck E. Cheese was a vomit-filled nightmare


Kristina Brown

Olivia Rossman cowers in the corner of a Chuck E. Cheese seconds before the party starts. A beacon of capitalism like this establishment makes it hard to believe they pay minimum wage.

“Hey, Olivia, so I just wanna let you know, the guy at your party… it looks like he has a gun, so I’m not going to be in the Chuck E. costume,” my former coworker, Alex, told me one September day. I had been working at Chuck E. Cheese Inc. for three months at that point, and there were rarely enough people in the kitchen to feed the hoards of hungry children, much less more than one person who had been trained in the art of fursuiting. The only other person who had been trained was allergic to dandruff that infested the suit after not being washed since the store first opened in the 90s.

Well, I couldn’t be Chuck E. because I was going to be shot by a man attending a children’s party at a dying, overpriced kiddie arcade. So, I did the next best thing, I went to my manager.  She was a small, Hispanic woman who had trained me into doing parties. She also taught me how to scrub the vomit from the toilet bowls at the end of the day. When I told my manager about the gun threat, she simply told me that I live and I learn. Well, I guess I’d learn whether or not I’d die.

When I told my manager about the gun threat, she simply told me that I live and I learn.

— Olivia Rossman

Back at the party, I refilled the pitchers for juice at the table. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Without warning, my manager started the countdown for the show. The only reason a parent would have a party at Chuck E. Cheese and not at somewhere with integrity and a high sanitation score was because we do a show where Chuck E. comes out to play. Before that happens, there’s a five-minute countdown for us hosts to ready ourselves. I had to cut the cake, get forks and knives, make sure the kid was happy, and find somebody who could play Chuck E. all in less than five minutes.

I found a Chuck E. Cheese in a new guy, who was only in on the job to get money to buy new shoes. He had never been in the suit before, so I shoved him in the costume closet and told him that he could figure it out. This was a mistake, as he later came out with his pants backward and his sleeves showing his pinkish, teenage skin. I ran to the kitchen, sliced the 8” cake into 22 slices, and race-walked back to the party with four seconds left to spare. When Chuck E. Cheese came out, we did such moves as the painter, the credit card swipe, and the shopping cart. I never ended up getting shot that day, and the only injury was when 50 children tried to trample Chuck E. out of pure malice. I take that back, there were two injuries. One more to my ego, because even after going through all that, they didn’t give me a tip.