Signing up to be a carnie isn't a job for everyone, but it is an option for work that also allows you to travel to exciting places like small town county fairs, concerts and after enough time dutifully tending the ball-pop or the water-shoot, you might even get to work for a state fair, every carnie's dream.
To acquire a job as a carnival worker there are a few requirements which they possess exceptional skill in.
Lets go over a few, shall we?
Carnies generally smoke very cheap cigarettes, preferably of the mentholated variety. This is because they don't make much money. Luckily they get to eat cheap or free as they are all connected with the cotton candy and hot dog vendors, part of a much-valued secret carnie society, a sort of junk-food Cosa Nostra.
Carnie's also always look super hung over, generally this is because they are super hung over. And that dazed look in the carnie's eye isn't for nothing. A Carnie's addictive predilections often include, but are not limited to, smokes (parliaments) alcohol (cheap and canned in aluminum) food (deep fried, likely poisoned) and women (underaged, defenseless).
Carnies have a certain smell about them. One that reminds you of unwashed clothes, ash trays and broken promises made in all-night diners. They probably do this on purpose, although I am not sure why. Perhaps as some sort of carnie camo. Not unlike a deer hunter spending a day bathing in his hopeful prey's piss. One can only hope that they eat their own prey, at least.
Please understand the stereotype that carnies have isn't true to all carnies, just the vast majority of them. And nevermind that stereotype that Austin Powers gave them in the 90's, claiming carnie's have "small hands and smell like cabbage". They do not all have small hands.
Is the carnie life for you? Before you go on putting your resume in order, or more likely flushing your system for the "mandatory" drug test, answer yourself a few easy questions.
So long as you don't lose a finger in those rusty rides, you should be able to. Carnival work doesn't appear to have the highest of educational standards for one to be considered "qualified". I suppose if you can count up to numbers less than 5, then you'll you know how many ping pong balls you give someone for a dollar.
This is a legitimate question as there has been a spate of carnival worker and rider accidents over the last, well, ever since carnival work started. Check this out. And this. And this. Basically what it comes down to is that these rides aren't very safe, and you are working around them all day long, tearing them down and setting them up.
Personally, I love having arms, but don't let that stop you from pursuing this illustrious career.
If so, than your in luck because this unsavory bunch seems to cling to the carnie life like a child clings to his dad in the presence of a NAMBLA member. I am certainly not saying that everyone who works at the traveling carnival is a criminal. All I am saying is that those two words have a lot of letters in common with the word Coincidence. You be the judge.
And Im saying that this carnival worker set a bad example for the rest of them. And that this piece of work isn't helping their rep much either. And no one knows how this one got employed. But this one doesn't surprise me because he's from Florida. Why not look it up on Google for yourself.
Carnies are known for not being the most savory characters, and if you don't mind, then please, by all means, get to work. And here is how.
The best time to look, especially in the colder states, is in the late spring, when carnival workers are waking up like bears from a winter hangover, getting ready to go out on the summer carnival tours around the USA.
You can find out the name of many different carnival service providers and apply directly to their website. They generally have a jobs or "career" section where you can contact the owner about working.
Keep in mind that you can probably get a job with them all year round as the turnover must be high with carnies regularly going to jail or mysteriously disappearing.
Some previous skills that are useful to include on a resume include counting, driving trucks, mechanical skills, people skills, breathing and spraying vomit with a water hose. If you list any one of those you should be fine. If you prefer to walk into the job with some experience under your over-stressed belt, consider spilling a can of soup onto a picnic table to practice your aim with the water hose.
Many carnival companies do require drug tests for insurance reasons, but judging from the smell of most carnies, that is a one time thing. Be ready to travel for months at a time as you go from one exciting small town to the next as you work on saving your nest egg for retirement.
If you don't think carnival life is for you, then consider one of the many other work and travel jobs below.
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