top of page
  • Writer's pictureolivia perreault

What being a carney taught me

I could tell you all of the speeches for Whac-A-mole, Water Race, and Roll-a-Ball without skipping a beat. I know how tall you have to be to ride a rollercoaster and the statistics for winning a giant unicorn. That's what working at an amusement park will do to you. For the past two summers, I've stocked prizes and operated 16 different games. Although my position was entitled "Games Operator," you could say I was a carney. Most of the time, I sat around and messed with people as they paid me money for a game they most likely won't win. At the end of the day though, who really needs a giant pink unicorn? Honestly, all the prizes I won as a little kid I either gave away or lost somewhere in the abyss of my closet. Adventureland, one of my favorite movies, was pretty much my life (minus the crazy sleeping-with-creepy old guy part.) But the park actually had so much drama-not that I expected anything less. There's a couple hundred people who work there, and a majority of the employees are under 21. Mixing a bunch of teens together definitely has an impact-especially romantically. Even in my orientation, the managers talked about "Love at the park" and how risky it is to date someone you're working with. (I think a lot of us learned our lesson there) My best friend, who recently scored a job there, explained it perfectly. She said that she loves her job so much because you can interact with everyone around you and have so much in common. Anyway, during my time spent at the park, I learned five essential things in life. For starters, never waste your money on a game unless you know the cheating rule. Let's face it-they're all rigged. Second, I'm so lucky I wasn't a Rides Operator, because they have people's lives in their hands. Games Operator's don't have to worry about someone's life-only their feelings after they waste $15 on Ring Toss and don't get a single ring on a bottle. Thank god the Games Department knew I would fit in. Third, I learned more communication skills then I ever imagined I could. As a Communication Studies minor, I already know how to talk to people and hold a conversation-but it becomes a whole different story when you're talking non-stop every day to costumers for hours at a time. Instead of simply stating the rules and being a basic, boring person, I would have fun with it and genuinely talk to the people who played my game. That just made the entire experience better for both parties. Fourth, I learned to conquer your fears. When I was little, I used to be that kid that would kick and scream before going on a rollercoaster-afraid that I would fall out or something. Finally, in sixth grade, I was dragged onto a rollercoaster, and I actually enjoyed myself. Since then, I've been optimistic and bold enough to try bigger and more thrilling rides...except for Sky Coaster. Maybe it's the 180 foot drop, or the 65 mph speed that scared me. Either way, I was not about to try it out, even though the employee cost was only $5. This was all until I met Ricky-my best friend at the park. He somehow convinced me to go on with him, and as we were strapped together at the top of this giant pole-I knew there was no going back. But, I'll always be grateful because that was one of the craziest experiences in my life, and I'm not fearful of heights anymore. The last thing I learned was how to live without caring what other people think of me. During my last day on the job, my friend and I wore some of the prizes at our games. These included giant, fuzzy mustaches, and big ties that said "Love Me," and "I'm Single." I walked back and forth strutting my ridiculous outfit while bouncing on an exercise ball. Throughout the day, we had some weird glances from guests-but other people loved it and even made a point to take pictures of us. Sure, we looked like assholes, but that's the fun of it all. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of you-as long as you're having a good time. Unfortunately, my time as a carney has come to an end, but I'll always hold the memories of the park close to my heart. I met so many people, each with their own incredible story. I made some great friends, and even in a small way, left my mark.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page