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The International Writers Magazine: From Our Archives - One The Road

Kevin Morra

I started in 1980, maybe it was 81, a long time ago anyway, that was my first summer as a Carny, and what a summer it was. There are three different areas to work in as a Carny, games, rides, food or concessions. Ride jocks don't really make any money, game people can but few do, a lot get ripped off or any money they do make gets spent on motels or partying.

It's a rough nomadic life, the hours are long, and the pay never worth it

Concession workers make the most over a season usually, depending on who you work for. Some game people will argue this, they're full of shit usually. Some game people will make more working a given spot (Exhibition) but make shit for the next few spots, concession people make the same wage every spot but may get a bonus for certain spots. A lot of people try being a Carny and never stay, I don't blame them, they're usually fairly normal people, normal people have better things to do in life, they fit into society, Carnies don't.

The people who stay working and living as a Carny are fuck ups according to society, maybe so, I prefer to think of us as misfits. I've been doing this job for 25 years off and on, I go back to the normal world, fail to fit in, and return to the road; I suspect I will die there, but I fucking hope not, though some part of me wouldn't mind, that's the fucked up part I mentioned earlier.

I'm what you would call a professional Carny. I go out for the season and I do my job to the best of my ability, I do not drink anymore, I do not do drugs anymore, I am a recovered addict/alcoholic.

When I was young I partied my ass off, just like I see the young ones doing now. I drank a lot, I did a lot of drugs, and I got laid a lot too. Those were the main reasons I was there, but I always did my job....well....most of the time anyway.

I was a class A fuckup for many years, but you can do that out there on the road and still keep your job because only a certain kind of person can last out there.
I love the midway, the lights, the crowds, blasting down the highway at 3:00am to the next city.
I love the midway late at night too, or the wee hours of the morning, just before dawn, when everything is shut down and quiet. The rides remind me of sleeping monsters looming in the dark.

It's a rough nomadic life, the hours are long, and the pay never worth it, but I don't fit anywhere else.
Now that I'm older, I look forward to the end of the season. When I was young I didn't because I had no where to go anyway. Now I do, I keep a place year round so I have somewhere to land when the big Merry- Go-Round stops and the season is over.

I don't look forward to the beginning of the season like I used too, I'm getting old," it's a young mans game, and I grew old quick." Bad habit's I've picked up living on the road.
I like to sleep in my clothes. Even off the road I do it often. I guess I've slept a lot of places you just don't take your clothes off, I don't know. I've slept outside, in bunks with roaches, under trucks...etc. Sometimes when I'm working, and the day is over, and I worked my ass off, I'll just fall asleep with all my clothes on and even my boots.

In the winter, during the few months I'm not working, I'll be watching TV or playing on the computer and I'll get tired and just lay on the floor with my clothes on and fall asleep.
Previous girlfriends that were not Carnies, asked me what the fuck was wrong with me, why I lived like some "old hippy" flopped out on the floor with my clothes on. I would just laugh and laugh.
They would never understand, only Carny women understand.

Another bad habit I have is I hate commitments. Like signing a lease, or anything that will tie me down.
I can be packed up and gone in 6 hours, no matter where I am, anytime. This can cause serious problems in the real world, especially with women. They want roots and stability, I doubt I will ever have it or be able to give it to a regular woman. My dream girl would be a road chick I guess, one that didn't start the old...."let's quit the road and setup house," bullshit.

© kevin morra - 09 November 2006
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