Monday, April 5, 2010

My day as a carny

posted Fri, 15 Sep 2006

I get to the carnival at 9:30. We are supposed to be there at 9:45 for a 10:00 start. Remember this was my temp job du jour – a big company’s United Way kickoff. They had an actual carnival set up in the parking lot of their headquarters. Seems to me they could have taken the money they spent on the carnival and put that towards United Way, but then the CEO might not have gotten to go to the big CEO United Way lunch in New York and we all know that’s what United Way is all about.

So I get there at 9:30. By 10:30, only 21 of the 24 temps are there. The carnival guy doesn’t want to give us our shirts or assignments until all the temps have arrived, so we twiddle our thumbs at $10 an hour apiece (plus the agency fee). The agency finds replacements for the no-shows, they arrive and at 10:45, we get our shirts. They are hideous. Yellow. I look awful in yellow. They say, “Event Staff” on the back. Naturally, there are no smalls or mediums to be had, so I am swimming in my men’s large. Carnival Guy tells us that we are to return the shirts at the end of the day. Right. Like I would keep that thing on my body any longer than necessary.

When he is showing us our assignments, I make the mistake of ducking into the portapotty. By the time I rejoin the group, all the shade jobs are gone. I am in charge of the miniature golf course. That’s fine, except there is not a cloud in the sky, it’s almost 11:00 a.m. and I am supposed to sit there until 8:00 p.m.

At least I get to watch the wall climbing next to me. It’s a 25-foot wall with what looks like mushrooms protruding from it. The climber gets strapped into these things around his legs, then clipped to a line attached to the top of the wall. As he climbs, the tension on the line tightens. As soon as the carnival opens, a woman comes by and asks about letting her three, five and seven-year-old children climb the wall later. The temps working the wall say Duh sure. After she leaves, I walk over and tell them they need to check with Carnival Guy. There might be an age restriction. If the mother isn’t smart enough not to put her little kids on a climbing wall, then surely the carnival’s lawyers know better.

By mid-afternoon, I am dying in the sun. You guys know how pathetic I am about being in the rays. I’m practically a vampire. When one of Carnival Guy’s henchmen comes around with water, he asks if I need anything else. “Just some shade,” I say jokingly. And hopefully. It’s not like I’m doing so much work with the golf. There have been maybe 20 golfers in three hours.

Five minutes later, Carnival Guy appears at my table. “Go work by the spin art,” he says. “Things are slow here and they need help.”

Well. Turns out they need help – in a simple booth where they have had shade all day -- because one of the temps working there up and quit in the middle of the day. Can you believe that? She was whining to the other temps that it was too hot and boring. Hello! That’s why it’s called “work” and not “fun!” What is wrong with some people? There were at least two other temps there who were leaving at the end of the day to go to their night jobs. Now that’s a work ethic.

Then the woman working next to spin art – in Skee or something like that – where you toss wooden balls into holes and get points for different holes – asks me to watch her game while she grabs some lunch. Thinking she’ll be gone the three minutes it takes to walk the 50 feet to the food booth, I say yes.

She’s gone 45 minutes. When did they say anything about taking a long lunch break? They said grab something, go back to your booth and eat it there. Sheesh. But I end up taking over the Skee booth, which turns out to be fun because that’s what all the kids want to play and it’s better than sitting around doing nothing at miniature golf. Only problem is that I run out of prizes an hour before the carnival is over, which means I have to tell kids that they didn’t win anything. One of the Carnival Girls also keeps telling me not to give the kids a prize unless they score 100,000 points or more. Great. You try telling a little kid he didn’t win a prize. Even if he did almost hit my head instead of the target a few times. Go ahead. Try it. It’s a lot of fun being the big meany at a carnival.

I untie the helium balloons from the post just so I have something to give to the kids. I consider giving them my leftover food tickets. Anything!

I spent almost nine hours on my feet today. I haven’t had to do real work like that in over 20 years. I have got to find a job. I’m too old for this.

1 comment:

  1. Where's my stuffed animal? I scored 150,000...

    Reminds me of my summer job at the K-Mart grill.