Behind the scenes at a carnival isn't all smiling clowns and funnel cakes. Nope, there's a dark world where carnies run amok, and we are totally here for it - minus the murder.
spankthewhitewhale asked former carnies of Reddit: What's some f*cked up sh*t you have seen while traveling with a carnival?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
15. Don't mess with a crackhead.
I watched a crackhead hit an old lady with a 2x4, then threatened to hit me with it when I tried to help her.
14. Oh no no no.
A girl i know about 10 years back was on the 'zipper' ride at a pop-up carnival and the bar broke causing her to get flung around inside the cage. They tried to stop the ride but couldn't in time and she broke her collar bone.
When the ride finally stopped it was because a carnie shoved his arm in the gears to stop it. Brave man, horrifying event. That carnival still comes around twice a year and they still have the same zipper ride.
...and the arm is still there, turning in the gears to this day.
I'm imagining this being said by someone holding a torch light under their face
13. Only slightly unnerving.
As a welding school student I made the mistake of checking the welds and wiring on a ferris wheel.
The horror... The horror... The horror...
Should we be avoiding ferris wheels at mediocre carnivals and fairs?
12. Nudes are forever.
When I was in high school, our school couldn't afford money for sports anymore, so as a way to fund our teams, they farmed us athletes out around the community.
I was assigned to help set up and take down stuff at the county fair. One if the carnies working along side us had some wild stories but the most "impressive" thing he had was a shoebox full of Polaroids.
This was early 2000s, before smart phones, but he basically kept a collection of nudes. The shoebox was almost full.
This guy was 140lbs tops, and looked like a 60yr old piece of leather wrapped around a skeleton. But I'll be damned if we didn't witness with our own eyes, him flirting and getting the number for a local.
These kinds of stories make me feel bad that I don't do better with women.
It's all about confidence. Confidence is a natural mask for a ton of short comings.
11. Nothing about this is surprising.
Not a carnie, but I worked with an ex carnie for awhile, and he had a lot of great stories. From his perspective, the business is very exploitative and almost completely staffed with felons, wanted men that can't get jobs anywhere else. Here's a couple of things I remember:
People that worked the fryers for the food stands would save all the fried batter crumbs for staff to eat at the end of the day. He would eat baskets of random fried dough and crumbs, corn dogs that had burnt or fallen apart, cold popcorn. Nobody was forced to eat this stuff, but it was free if you wanted to save your money.
If you really pissed off a vindictive boss, they might wait until they'd traveled somewhere remote or far from your hometown and then fire you, leaving you stranded and far away. This happened a few times.
If you really pissed off a vindictive boss, they might wait until they'd traveled somewhere remote or far from your hometown and then fire you, leaving you stranded and far away. This happened a few times.
10. Carny creepers.
I worked at the country fair grounds for a few years when I was young. The amount of carnies in their late 20s who'd hook up with local teens was f*cked up. I didn't realize it at the time, because I was 16 years old and was just jealous of those guys, but in hindsight they are pretty garbage humans. They'd use weed as a lure.
9. This carn job.
When I was 16, I worked a day accepting tickets in front of the fun house in the next state over. I wound up chatting with three girls that were roughly my age, and let them through for free. Two of them flashed me from the inside, and I was fired on the spot.
I maintained contact with the third one, and discovered that we have the same birthday, amongst other similarities. We hooked up five years later after calling each other every year on our birthday.
Not really messed up, but that's my carnie experience.
Were you fired because you let them in for free, or were you fired because they flashed you?
Definitely both. It paid off in the end, though.
There was one guy who got his car searched because the cops smelled weed. They pulled out weed, meth, fentanyl, (a whole host of drugs, some they didn't recognize), a crossbow, a gun, a box of assorted sex toys, etc. Dude was also a felon. They had him packed up and out of there before the end of the day.
If a good time is against the law, lock me the f*ck up!
Those cops ruined what was shaping up to be one hell of a weekend.
We had this really tall chick with black and grey dreads. She was mostly used to carry stuff and the like. Whenever there's be a thunderstorm though we'd catch her just staring up at the sky. She'd wander off for days at a time and just show up again with no explanation.
6. The Simpsons got it right too.
Not a carnie, but my entire family worked in horse racing, so pretty much carnies too wealthy for their own good. Jockeys are maniacs. 100-pound humans harnessing the strength of 1000-pound angry, inbred animals at high speeds. They fear no man. And they love cocaine.
It's Always sunny in Philadelphia was accurate then?
Yes and no. They're not nearly as jolly. A lot of them came from nothing, often first-generation immigrants, insecure about their stature around us normies and I've seen them snap in an instant. They're very tightly wound. I always felt like walking on eggshells around em.
I once saw this little fella in the winner's circle jump vertical from a standing position and whack an over 6-ft-tall man in the side of his normal-sized noggin with his tiny helmet. I was like 12 and it was pretty badass tbh. Oh, and they all have nicknames and the good ones have groupies.
5. Stay away from the Johnson.
Not a carnie, but a friend of mine has a little sister who is currently pregnant by a carnie named "Johnson." She's 17 and "Johnson" is of an unknown age. She doesn't know where he is from or his real name and he doesn't know that she's pregnant. She's excited to show up at the fair next year with their kid. Anyway, the carnie brought her around to show her how sh*tty the rides are. She said they were horrible and that she would never go on one again.
Not a carnie (sorry) but I had a few beers with one once, and he told me the most f*cked-up (and hilarious) story that makes me wince when I even think about it. I'll try to do it justice:
This chap decided to join a travelling fair for a summer. He ended-up getting a job as the guy who wanders around taking money and then spinning people on the waltzer
One day, some girls were egging him on to spin them faster and faster, so he really went for it, except he got his hand caught on something and ended up spinning with them. He lost his grip and flew off, landed and then skidded along the ground on his ass.
Those who have seen these rides, know the ground undulates up and down, and to do so, they have gaps in the floor (take a look at the above picture to see).
Well... this guy slid along until one of his ass-cheeks plopped neatly into one of these open gaps, which then closed as the ride span, and basically popped his arse cheek.
Yes. Popped his entire ass cheek.
He said he can't remember much about the accident, but he spent the following year or so with, basically one huge blood blister as a backside.
3. Just a katana, nbd.
Didn't work at one, but it would come to town every summer for August long weekend (first Monday of August in Canada)
Basically some locals got into a fight with the staff working the carnival after they tried to steal something from them (cash and merch if I am not mistaken)
So the police are called, and by the time they get there a giant melee broke out in the centre of the fair grounds, there's like five people surrounded by the carnival staff, and one of them comes running in with a katana, swinging it at the would-be thieves until about twenty cops break it up.
Normally they pack up and leave Monday night / Tuesday morning, but they left immediately afterwards. Was probably the best article the local newspaper had run in years.
2. Next you're gonna tell me magic isn't real.
A Magician friend and I spent some time visiting backstage with the local carneys. This show featured, walking on glass, laying an a bed a nails, a woman without a body (head sitting on table) and the big draw was a women laying down in a box while blades were put through the box in every direction.
They showed us everything was done. At the end of the show they invited the audience to step up (for a quarter) and view this woman's body all tangled and mangled in this box full of blades.
This was a HUGE money maker for them. What the audience saw was the woman laying on her side with the blades stuck in comfortably around her!
The guys are great talented performers and could really put on an entertaining show!
1. Be honest - you clicked for this.
I worked with a guy that looks like your typical white guy from the suburbs and he has had a successful career in video editing. When you get to know him, it becomes apparent that he has lots of memory issues from doing some hard drugs. When he graduated high school he faced getting a girl pregnant by running away and joining a traveling carnival for a few years.
One part of his job was to ride shotgun with one of the drivers and keep him awake all night. The driver would pound a gallon jug of vodka while driving.
He told us of being woken up while some carnies were getting lucky with underage girls. We questioned him for never interrupting and he said he would have gotten knifed in his sleep if he did.
Carnies making and selling meth. Carnies on meth working on the rides, taking apart motors, replacing bearings with old bearings that they found in the junk shop. Those rides had rusted shut grease zerks that would just let them grind metal.
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The key to any successful relationship is communication.
The ability to be open and receptive to what a significant other has to say, as well as the ability to be able to convey something weighing on one's mind, can be healing.
But depending on the circumstance, some things are better left unsaid.
Curious to hear examples of what those might be, Redditor FamiliarFarmer8356 asked:
"What's something you wish you could tell your partner without upsetting them?"
If there is conflict, there is a way to discuss and address the issue in a civil and respectful manner.
Things Just Happen
"Every bad thing that happens doesn't require someone to be blamed for it. And that someone doesn't always have to be me."
A Cornerstone Of A Successful Union
"One of the cornerstones of a good marriage, is knowing how to argue. I’d actually say that before a couple get married, they should check how their potential partner behaves in an argument. What are they like when they get angry. It’s important because no two individuals are going to agree all the time. And on those occasions, it’s important to remember not to belittle the other. Deal with the issue at hand. And especially, don’t argue in front of the kids. You have no idea how much lasting damage this causes."
"All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest - never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principles of equal partnership."
It's Not That Deep
"please stop complaining about everything."
"If you keep seeking out reasons to be miserable, you will find them."
"I'm tired of being dragged down with you."
There's no need to get defensive when there's something to discuss.
It's Not About You
"That some days I’m just tired from class and work and just want some me time, it’s not that I hate you my social battery is just running out."
"Her first reaction to something adverse doesn't have to be anger."
In The Words Of A Pirate
"In the wise words of captain Jack Sparrow sometimes:"
'the problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude toward the problem.'
It Takes Two To Tango
"That I wish she’d be more independent so she didn’t need my help for everything outside the house."
"That it’s a little disturbing how aggressively he drives when he’s grumpy… heavy on both gas and brakes, zooming in and out of traffic, swearing at people who make mistakes… very unlike him."
Sometimes the truth hurts when talking about members of the family.
A Real Assessment
"That her mother is not a good person."
"I told my husband that it's not that his family is nosy and overbearing, it's that I hate watching him cave and negotiate as if they have a right to behave like this, and I really hate when I'm the bad guy for wanting reasonable limits."
"It got worse, then it got better, FYI."
"His parents are greedy, selfish people and treat him like an atm."
There's definitely a fine line between withholding your thoughts to protect the person you love and being brutally honest.
If coming clean isn't going to resolve an issue, then it might be better to suck it up and deal with whatever frustrations you have about the other person.
It's up to you, but make sure the delivery doesn't come from a place of rage if you do decided to be totally transparent about your negative thoughts.
Every family has a black sheep or every family in its entirety are black sheep.
What is a "black sheep" anyway?
It used to mean a person who brought shame or embarrassment to a family, but it's more often used now to mean the member who is just very different from everyone else—sometimes in a good way.
Redditor Frozen_yoghurt123 asked:
"Who is the 'black sheep' of your family?"
I'm the black sheep or at least I'd like to think so.
"Probably my dad's cousin, who went to prison for murdering his lover's husband."
DW_555Oh My Wow GIFGiphy
"My Dad. He is the only one of 6 siblings who wasn't a huge f**k up. And yet, before my Grandma died she stated that he was her 'biggest disappointment.' He is estranged from his surviving siblings... not by his choice. It honestly blows my mind."
"Toxicity is often a group mindset thing; people don't want you to leave because they are dysfunctionally co-dependent on each other and need each other to justify their own shortcomings in life. A lot of the 'family loyalty' stuff is typically shouted loudest by those who are the least good idea to stay loyal towards."
"My great uncle who stole my great grandfathers identity, stole a couple million dollars, and ran off. No one even knew he was alive until my great grandfathers funeral in 2009. No one has seen him since. My grandma started to cry because she honestly thought he was dead."
"Everyone else just kind of nodded on his direction and went on with the rest of the funeral. I just remember being very confused because I was 9 and I had never met this guy who my dad pulled me aside and told me he was my great uncle. It was a few years later that I got the full story."
"According to my mean aunt, the 'matriarch' in her own mind, it's my twin brother because "he doesn't care about family now that he's a doctor." (He's a resident. Chief resident. He works ridiculous hours and spends the rest of the time recovering from work.)"
"According to my ex-MIL (who still counts because she's Son's grandma), it's me, for divorcing her son."
"According to everyone else, it's Mean Aunt. The rest of us are warm and caring and compassionate. We have our moments; all of us have been accidentally thoughtless or done something selfish once in a while, but we're not deliberately mean and snarky all the time."
"My immediate family are the black sheep of the entire family."
DarthDreganJohn Stamos Cheers GIF by GrandfatheredGiphy
Sounds like everyone has a little black sheep in them.
"By now, my brother for cutting off everyone because he prefers his rude, selfish, paranoid, narcissist wife over all of us."
"My wife is the black sheep of her family in the sense that she's the only one who isn't a rude, selfish, paranoid narcissist."
Lvcivs2311Joe Dirt Brother GIFGiphy
"Me. My granddaddy told me 'I’ve only had the sheriff knock on my door two times in my 80 years, and both times he was looking for you! 'I did some dumb sh*t, caused a little trouble, burned a few bridges but always managed to stay out of jail. Partly because my sister has kept an attorney on retainer for me since I was 16."
"My younger brother (2nd of 4) is a compulsive liar and it got him in a lot of little trouble as a teen, then he told his wife he graduated a big college when we're not even sure if he got his GED because he failed to graduate HS, went to some GED school and eventually just stopped going."
"IF he graduated college, he never mentioned he was going in the 4+ years it takes nor mention graduation or have a diploma. He's not a bad dude, but now family time is super awkward when he and his wife are talking about 'their' college team."
The NOT good girl...
"My aunt's daughter. She’s been in jail for drugs, stolen money from my aunt and other family members to use on drugs and physically abused my aunt. My aunt has tried getting her help, but nothing has worked. She’s just not a good person, and everyone in my family, except my aunt, doesn’t want anything to do with her. I haven’t seen her in 8 years now, and I’m happy about that."
"A former nun - my great aunt - left the religious life and got married. She called herself 'the black sheep of the family' because her habit was black."
Back2BachExcited Julie Andrews GIF by The Rodgers & Hammerstein OrganizationGiphy
Well the black sheep sound like the most interesting family members.
Sex is great, but there are more ways than one to accomplish that euphoric feeling without sex.
There are so many small, ordinary aspects of life that can just send a person and we come across them daily.
A good steak.
A home repair.
The things that make you say...
"I tingle all over."
Redditor OldAboba asked:
"What is the best non-sexual physical feeling you’ve ever felt?"
Adele. Adele live. She sends me.
FloatingRelaxed Exit Strategy GIF by Hannah Bronfman Giphy
"I got a professional full body (everything but my man parts) massage a few years back for the first and so far only time at a spa after the recommendation from a coworker. I felt like I was floating on a cloud for the next few days."
Through your nose...
"Sneezing when you're sick. Then you get that about 20 second feeling of breathing through your nose again and you like ahh that's what I aspire to at the moment."
"Or the very last sneeze of your illness. During a fire drill in high school, I was ambling out after fighting a head old for a few days. The alarm was killing my head which was already throbbing from the sinus pressure."
"I was nearing the field, well away from my classmates, when I cough/sneezed out a huge, green loogie - cleared it about three feet, no icky trail - and by the time I was walking back to the building I was feeling pretty much back to normal. No more head cold after that. Never had something like that ever happen again where there was such an abrupt end to the head cold."
"Right after a migraine goes away. It's almost a spiritual experience."
"This was going to be my answer. I was in the ER one time for a really bad migraine. They gave me what they called a 'migraine cocktail.' When they pushed it through the IV I could feel the cold liquid make its way through my body, up to my head. Once it hit my brain, the migraine was gone. It was pure ecstasy. Even better was that cocktail had Benadryl in it so I fell asleep not long after and slept so good."
"That stretch til you shake when you wake up."
"I once stretched too hard in the morning and got the worst calf cramp ever... it looked like a prune and I thought I would die from the pain. Couldn't stretch in bed for months afterwards out of fear it would happen again."
"When you move over 50, it turns into that stretch til you put your back into a muscle spasm that lasts days."
The ItchScratching Feel Good GIF by 60 Second DocsGiphy
"I had a cast and splint on both my legs for 2 months. When they cut it off, they scratched my legs for me and the itch was just top notch! Yeah."
Itching an itch can change a life.
YUM!Emma Stone High Quality GIFGiphy
"When you're starving all day and devour a bomb a** meal."
Sleep for Life
"When you’ve been up for 20 hours+ and finally get into bed and you just know it’ll be the best sleep of your life."
"But man, after 36+ hours, the body sort of aches and it's hard to fall asleep despite being completely exhausted. Then the restless legs kick in... ugh. I do agree that a 20hr-ish stint is amazing to cuddle into, especially if you don't have to get up at any specific time the next day."
"Makes it better when you’ve been sleep deprived for weeks and know you have NO PLANS tomorrow and can sleep as much as you need."
"When you're absolutely busting for a pee and you can finally go!"
"Apparently there’s a thing called a 'pee-gasm' that people (usually women) have that causes an orgasmic feeling when you pee after holding it for a while! I’ve definitely experienced this and I’ve intentionally waited a while so I could have that good feeling... lol."
I Can Hear!!
"The feeling of water leaving your ear after being there all day."
"I had some impacted earwax for a week in one ear, and when it finally got removed it was the best feeling in the world. Initially it was like having a tv or radio in my ear that only had static, but then I could hear. Good god, I could hear. It was amazing."
"Oh man, and it’s WARM from being in your head, and the warmth makes the sensation of leaving even better."
A Good Restdog puppy GIFGiphy
"Sleeping in a warm blanket in winters."
"Or sleeping in a cold blanket in summer."
I am enthralled by all of those things.
People need to stop throwing out unwanted advice.
And when it is requested, think before you speak.
People with mental disorders don't need everyone telling them they have a fix like "exercise" or "herbal supplements."
Redditor Gold-Ad-2827 asked:
"People with mental disorders: What do you hate being told the most?"
I hated being told to just smile. You smile and go away.
Duhseth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth MeyersGiphy
"It's all in your head. Where else would it?! My colon?"
"Everybody goes through that."
"This saying makes my blood boil. Or the 'I was that age once too ya know' yeah no sh*t you were that age once. And just because you were that age once doesn’t mean we have the same experience."
"They try to minimize it."
"You're worried? Just stop."
"You're sad? Just don't be."
"You're compulsively binge eating? Eat less."
"Thanks for that stellar advice."
"Or even better, 'Just do it!' As if ADHD paralysis can be stopped with a can-do attitude."
"I get so frustrated when people treat the idea of 'holistic medicine' as some kind of woo. How does it escape so many people that the body works holistically? Even a lot of doctors seem to ignore this. It's very frustrating when you have 2 or 3 or 4 illnesses that are all affecting each other, and your 'physical health' is held distinct from your mental health, and nothing anyone is doing to treat you works because no one's looking at the whole system."
"I just got a lecture from a psychiatrist I am seeing about nutrition, and he apologized to me for doing so but I told him, 'No, I appreciate it. Do it for all your patients.' because it told me he's trying to look at the whole picture and actually fix what's wrong. It gave me faith in him."
RelaxCalm Down Golden Girls GIF by TV LandGiphy
"You need to calm down."
"Never is the history of calm down has calm down ever caused anyone to calm down."
Calm down. I hate that one. You calm down.
TipsSeason 23 Reaction GIF by Law & OrderGiphy
"When they try to give me tips on what to do, like bruh as if I didn't already try that."
"You don't look sad. No crap... that's so I can avoid having this conversation. Also depression isn't 'being sad' like people think."
"God, I hate this. It's because saying 'I'm depressed' has been standard for people expressing that they're slightly unhappy about something dumb like not getting enough croutons on their salad or some crap. Now that's just what everyone assumes you mean when you say you have depression."
"'Stop being lazy.'"
“'Lazy' is when you don’t want to do anything at all. 'Executive disfunction' is when you can do everything at all, but that one easy quick thing that you do want to do just makes you and your brain freeze completely days ahead. I’m tired of people not understand that even when I explain and look at me like I’m bullshitting instead."
Ways to Cope
"Maybe you should try praying harder. I did, He prescribed medication."
"Praying is a way to cope for a lot of people, I think. That's totally fine, but insisting on praying in lieu of getting real help or actually addressing the issue is when it is not only unhelpful, but dangerously detrimental."
"Religious people will bypass everyone’s cultures, identity, views, and feelings just to be right and make a point. it’s disgusting. I read somewhere that real so called Christianity is all wrong. The real faith is from the Aramaic history and all the meanings were misinterpreted and the stories and all were made up by Catholics wanting to control their people. Yuck."
'contamination'Disgusted Season 6 GIF by Brooklyn Nine-NineGiphy
"As someone with OCD with a lot of attention to 'contamination', having someone try to explain contradictions in why I'm doing something that is technically unclean when I wouldn't do something that is technically clean due to OCD. There are a few doorknobs that I will not touch no matter how much you clean them in front of me and I know it makes no sense, if it made sense I wouldn't have OCD i'd just be cleanly."
Stop trying to be an armchair therapist. Be empathetic to people first.