Tales From the Road

Following the completion of the first two-week run, the show rolls into Syracuse for the second largest State Fair in America, and I learn exactly how hard it can be to live on the road.

August 26, 2005 – Survivor: Carnival Edition

It is a rough world out there.  Behind the colored lights, spinning rides and loud music is hard work, and some people are just not cut out for it.

Brett wound up leaving during our second week in Hamburg.  He was part of the first group, knew how to get the money from rubes and inadvertently taught me how to bend silverware with mental powers.  We all had a good laugh when he hooked up with Cara and wound up with the Carny Fucker Disease, the joke providing us with much entertainment.  However, he had been talking about leaving, partially due to the fact that he needs insulin which has to be refrigerated, and that not a luxury offered in the bunk house, plus other personal reasons.

To follow with the old cliché when a door closes a window opens, we had two new people join.  Vick and Hana are natives of Buffalo, New York who happened to see the ‘Help Wanted’ sign on the ticket box and decided to become part of the crew.  They are slowly but surely finding love with each other.

Despite a few particularly stormy days, we had a strong finish in Hamburg, drawing large crowds all weekend and heavily all Sunday afternoon.  Was highly amused by the amount of Hot-Topic geared people who came in.  No matter what genre they blatantly stereotyped themselves into, the majority of them were completely disgusted by one or more of the acts, especially my Pierced Weightlifting.

Tear down went much better with all the extra hands, though it still left us quite exhausted.  There was a chaotic orchestra around us as rides were neatly packed up and trucks hauled them to the next spot.  It was kind of interesting to watch the Ferris wheel disappear slice by slice.  The sky turn from night to day and we all got a free look at Tiny Tim, the World’s Smallest Horse.  He had been positioned across from us on the midway, the grind having to be heard way too many times that it may have all made us slightly mad.

Our departure was around 9:30 that night and it was a three-hour drive to Syracuse.  A few of us took the time to drive around the fairgrounds to check things out since we would not have the chance once we started working.  A security cart pulled up to inform us the midway was closed and we needed to go, adding that if anything went missing, we would be highly suspected.  Timmy had a show to do in California, so he left for that on Monday and will be back for the second week we are here.  It puts an empty spot in the show but there are enough of us to take up the slack.

Though set up went fairly well, we were about to unroll the menagerie tent when people began running towards one of the rides.  Security drives up in their golf carts, then comes an ambulance.  Cue the news channels and it is a true media circus.  Action has ceased and we are wondering what is happening.  Apparently there had been a man placing ‘stabilizing blocks’ under the Enterprise; the ride slipped and the man was crushed to death.  This should be sufficient evidence that this can be a dangerous line of work, no matter how fun one perceives it to be.

Speaking of that, I got my foot run over during set up.  We were using Hana’s truck to hauls some of the heavier items from the bunk house to the sideshow tent.  Guess I was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time but thankfully had my New Rocks on, which prevented my toes from getting crushed.  She felt really bad about it, but honestly I felt little pain.  Small injuries happen and then there was also that time in Hamburg when Elk was coming off stage and the stairs collapsed.  Unfortunately the Carny Engineering and ingenuity of using big wooden blocks as means of stabilization filed miserably.  There was a whole lot of nonsense surrounding that stage, seeing as how none of the stairs we have are tall enough for it, but that has all been sorted now.

In any event, the menagerie tent and the banner line for the sideshow were put up all in one day.  Our tent went up the following afternoon and my hands are still sore from driving stakes.  However, it is done and the tent is much closer to the bunk house than it was at the last spot.  Opening day went alright for a Thursday, but the crowd dwindled around nine.

Here we are at the second largest State Fair in the country, waiting for people to come in.  We are at this spot until the end of September, and then it is off to Maryland.  Personally I tend to use these moments to handle my new albino python named Damien.  The Boss had bought a few snakes and brought them in for the purpose of having the girls hold them on the bally stage.  Generates a bit more curiosity, or scares people in some cases.  Definitely wanted the albino right away, perhaps due to my slight fetish of Nature’s freaks.  He was rather awnry when I first made an attempt to get him out of the snake box, but that was mostly due to the fact that he was shedding.  He has calmed down a bit since then, but seems to prefer me over others.  The Boss said I may keep him at the end of the seasons, which is very generous.  Have thought about having a pet snake for quite some time, so am very excited about that.

There are benefits to working at the carnival such as discounts on food, occasionally getting it for free.   For example, these two girls came to see the show one night and since it was so late, we did not charge them.  In return, they hooked us up with free meals [mostly chicken fingers and a large drink] which saved us from having to spend money on food.

This is a great way to make a living no matter how hard it may seem at times and right now I cannot see myself doing anything else.


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