After being delighted with myself and pumped after job number one (rocking out my gym as the new, unpaid DJ), it was time to rush home and get ready to start my second new job of the day, I was putting in the double shift already! Job number two involved me being a Shamwow salesman, although the version I am selling is the Super Shammy if I am to be technical (same product, different name). For those you don’t know what the Shammy is, watch this video again to refresh the cockles.
On the way to the fair, where we would be selling the Shammys (although I was told I would need to do very little, they will sell themselves!) I was given my sales spiel to learn off and filled in on what the job would involve. Basically, there are festivals, fairs, carnivals every week where people set up stalls and stands selling different products. There are usually fun fair rides there as well. Wear what I want, outdoors, get a bit of a tan, free ride on the big wheel, it was sounding like the greatest job ever already! All I would have to do is stand there, let the Shammys sell themselves by giving people a demo run through and the commission would be filling my pockets to the brim. I was pumped.
However, and there is always a however it seems, once we got to the festival, I saw it was not as glamourous as I had imagined. For anyone in Cork, I would describe it as being a hybrid of Funderland (but smaller) and the Coal Quay (but worse, if possible). For everyone else not familiar with either, it was like a really crap carnival. And it was then when I remembered who worked at carnivals… carnies! Wuu huu, my dream of becoming a carny had finally come through! (Although technically I was one before when I made wax hands for people in an amusement park in Ocean City but thats another story).
Coincidentally enough, I have recently (well, recently-ish, I wasted 2 hours over Christmas and I would not recommend you do the same) watched a documentary on carnies and their daily lives. Highlights include incest, lack of teeth, and a version of English even more hubbula hubbula than mine.
These people were not to disappoint. Characters like those above were floating about in the shadows, more behind the scenes folks. A few dodgy stares, and hubbulas were given until they realized you were one of their own for the next few days and they welcomed you into the family. The other sellers were a bit more upscale. As we set up our stall, I noticed the people to our right were selling shoes. Shoes that looked like they were all well worn in, but not in a vintage way, they looked dirty and second hand, but still expensive somehow. When have you ever gone to a fun fair with the intention of buying shoes, that are more expensive than ones in regular shops, and look like the seller just walked through a field in them, took them off and put them in front of you?!! The stall behind us were selling water bottles that sprayed you in the face as you took a drink, which was not a joke bottle but meant for practical use. The competition did not look great. Super Shammys were kings of the carnival it seemed. I could see the envy and respect in the eyes of the other carnies.
At least the banter was good with the other carnies. One older lady, who liked to rub my stomach as she spoke to me, freaked me out that she wouldn’t stop, asked me “Where did you get that accent from?” Eh, my Mum. This confused her no end, so she decided to pinpoint different countries, spot the odd one out… “Are you from Australia?” No. “England?” Nope. “Liverpool?” Ha, how did you guess that was the country I am from?!!!
Another carnie folk gave me an authentic Irish ornament she had made and was selling for an extremely high price, it is too weird to describe. Well, it is literally two small hazelnuts on top of each other with a leprechaun hat on top. Not too weird to describe actually at all, just plain weird and I had no idea how it was remotely “authentic Irish”. I’m sure she made a fortune from them.
Our stand was set-up, my sales pitch was down, the sun was shining, the carnival had just opened, 30, 000 people were expected over 4 days, if I sold 20 a day I would be making over 100 bones and at times you might sell 20-30 in an hour, I was pumped. Next step was just to wait for the people. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. And no-one showed up. I did two demos for people, who turned out to be carnies from other stalls, and at the end of each pitch they asked if they could have them for free, in return for a slice of pizza and my palm being read. No thanks, and bob hope!
Apparently, now and again, between the really good shows, there are these off kilter, bad ones where not many people show up. But you still might sell 20 in a few hours at least. And at other times, there are really slow shows where you might only sell 20 in a day. And then there was this time, described as “The worst and biggest joke of a show I have ever done or seen”. Which was great seeing as it was my first day, but at least not really too unsurprising for how my luck has been. I made no sales in 5 hours, it was horrendous. The season pro in charge, that I was working for, also made no sales in 5 hours, so at least it wasn’t just me. Still though, this did not console me in the slightest. It was a great feeling going home that night, knowing that after working a total of 7 hours that day, I had made no money, whatsoever. In fact, I had a net deficit of money for that, after splurging out on lunch, ha.
The next day, the outlook was that at least it could not get any worse. How could you do worse than no sales. I actually thought of plenty of ways of doing this, ha, but thankfully none of them happened (e.g, while giving my demo, I would spill coke all over someone watching it, and have to give them free shammys to make up for it). About an hour in to the shift, I made my first sale. Strangely enough, to two guys about 15, God only knows why they bought them but I didn’t care. In the next 4 hours, I sold one and a half more (buy one, get one free, would you take half the price for just one, sold). The place was still like a ghost town, so nobody was around, it was horrific!
Seeing as 30, 000 had been promised, I had been upgraded to using a microphone headset as well to broadcast my booming sales pitch. This back fired slightly, when after one guy walked away, who had presumed and insisted that Scotland and Ireland were the same difference, I forgot about the microphone being on and called him an ape. Luckily he was all talk and I had the carnies to back me up, ha. We stick together.
At the end of the two days, I had to count my money and tot up my total. It took me all of 5 seconds… 2 and a half sales, I made a grand total of $15 for a total of 12 hours work, including both jobs. Actually, now that I think of it, seeing as I spent $15 each day on lunch, I came away with a net total of -$15. I wonder how much I will have to pay out when we get our bonuses.
Here’s a cool remix for the gym which I stumbled across while getting ready for my DJ set. Black Hole Sun (Chew Fu Remix) by Soundgarden