The summer before I started college I had the opportunity to work at be a carny for a weekend. It has been one of the jobs that really left an impression specially because of how efficient it was.
I remember when a friend asked me what I was doing for the weekend and then telling me that they had a spot on a work crew. A lot of thoughts went to my head when I was told I was going to work at a carnival. I did not know that some locals were mixed in with the people that traveled with the carnival.
We got there pretty early and everything was already set up. We were there to fill in for the weekend and the added customers that brought. I was assigned to the balloon stand, where you use darts to pop balloons for a price. Surprisingly, the game even though it was pretty hard to win at I don’t feel it was rigged. The balloons were a little under inflated and the darts a little dull, but if you got the correct angle you could pop the ballon every time.
If you ever encounter this game, simply look for the most inflated balloons even if they are more towards the top. Also try not to shoot directly at them but approach them with an arch, almost like shooting a free trow. Some of the game are scams or can be very easily be turned into scams where it is almost impossible to score.
I was given a wad of fives and singles and told the basics of running the boot. The friend that told me about the job was my partner and we took turns at talking to the people playing. The prices sucked a lot though. They were basically mini posters in probably very dangerous for a kid frames with glass. We also had bigger posters and some stuffed animals. You could only upgrade to the larger prices after you basically had won at the game twice. To win you had to pop three balloons on 5 tries.
I only milked a couple of guys trying to impress their girlfriends and kept on selling them extra darts, but they were going for strenth rather than angle and kept on missing the balloons altogether.
We worked until very late last night, but got plenty of breaks. The interesting part is that most people don’t know how many workers are actually not running a game but just walking around collecting money, watching people and making sure everything is running correctly. I never had more than maybe 100 bucks with me, and big bills were exchanged for change I would say probably a couple of times an hour, more if I got busy. It was a quick exchange.
I am not sure if it was because people were there to have fun, or because of the atmosphere in a carnival but it was a lot of fun. I liked interacting with people and was able to go the whole day without anyone getting too upset over loosing. I worked hard all day, when it was slow in the morning I was building more prices putting pictures in frames.
The regulars that worked with the carnival year around were actually quite nice to us. They did remind me of the travellers from The Ritches in some ways. It was a day of hard work and I learned a lot about carnivals.