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Author Topic: Running Away to Join the Circus  (Read 6554 times)

Gordon Groff

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Running Away to Join the Circus
« on: July 18, 2012, 08:27:30 AM »
I am SO close to pulling the trigger on retirement, but am concerned that the cost of fuel and travel and perfomance in the financial markets will seriously curtail my desire for a care-free retirment.

Went to a circus a couple days ago and they were advertising for multiple job openings that would include travel/lodging and decent pay besides.  It looked like FUN.  Heck, I would not mind selling popcorn or shoveling elephand dung for the chance to travel the country in our MH while not hitting my savings so hard.

Seems like a likely option for those of us with RV's and willing to work, but tired of the rat race.  Has anyone here had experience or know of how a gig like this works out?

Gordon
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2012, 09:04:10 AM »
The work during the show would probably be the easy part.  Circus jobs mean frequent travel, maybe even in the dead of night, to get to the next gig. You have a schedule of shows and no down time in between in many (most?) cases.  In my opinion that's the opposite of what I would want in a workamping job, but I'm not you. I would want a job that leaves me time to look around an area and enjoy it, and not have to move every few days on someone else's schedule. Heck, you may as well keep on working a real job if somebody else gets to dictate your time.

Have you walked around where the circus people park their rigs?  Usually anywhere they can around the perimeter of the show. Not an RV park by any means.

We workamped for 8 years and enjoyed it, plus it helped a lot with the expenses. We chose campground staff positions and there are some pretty good ones available. Other mobile work choices include medical temps, farm work, Christmas tree sales (tends to be cold weather, though), other seasonal work (shipping, sales, etc), etc. If you have marketableskills you can often find part time or temp jobs in an area and spend 2-6 months there.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 09:07:35 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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Pierat

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2012, 10:28:58 AM »
What Gary said. Seems like circus folks work extremely long hours and move a lot. Which circus did you see and did you enjoy it?
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2012, 11:03:43 AM »
You might start your research here:  http://www.workamper.com/ 
 
Margi

Gordon Groff

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2012, 12:56:14 PM »
You're no doubt right, Gary and gang.  I checked their schedule and they do shows Wednesday-Sunday every week.  That leaves basically 2 days to tear down, move, and set up, so it would be a 7day/week gig.  A lot more work than I'm looking for, but in a passing fantasy way, it looked like fun.

It was Picadilly Circus - travel show.  A small circus, seating about 1000 max.  We really enjoyed it.  The performers were all accessable between shows, the acts were very well done.  It had a small-venue family feel to it, with most performers and workers related somehow.  Their home base in FL has come into trouble with their treatment of animals, but those at this show were very clean, obvously well kept and well-loved by the trainer.  They looked happy, if that's possible to tell with animals.  All-in-all, a very classy and friendly operation with new or well cared for equipment.  The kind of organization I would not mind being part of.  Of course, it may have a very ugly underside that I did not see.

Just thought I'd throw it out there.  Thanks for the feedback.

Gordon
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Jammer

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 01:48:30 PM »
I work renaissance festivals, and there's some crossover from the circus and carnival midway workers to those.

Any of these shows are more of a lifestyle than a job insofar as no one involved is doing it for the money.  My wife and I and my daughter typically work 11 hour days on the days when the shows are open.  We mostly cover costs but not much more than that.  The community ties in these places can be very close and it feels good to be part of the magic of a show that people enjoy.

Bear in mind that, especially with traveling shows, everyone helps with the setup and teardown.  There's no one who just sells popcorn. 
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jnlo2000

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2012, 09:40:40 PM »
It is fun!  It is hard but it is FUN!  I did the circus thing as a kid...so did my brother.  Haven't explored that as an option since I am adult, however, if the opportunity came up and the circumstances were right, I know I could completely see me with a circus again!  If it works for YOU than that is what is important! 
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99WinAdventurer37G

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 10:20:55 PM »
Maybe try just one show and see how it goes.  Then you might offer your services for only a few days during the show.  This will give you more time and you may enjoy it more.  The worst they can say is no, and that's where you are now.  I find with my work that many times customers are unhappy because of something I never would have imagined.  I think they're not happy with the charges, when they just want the truck there an hour earlier.  Ask, then listen, many times with proper communication one can create a win-win.  Maybe they only need help a couple of days during the show.  It's always good when we're all happy.  Even if you don't like it, at least you explored it, had the experience and learned something.
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rvgrandma

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 06:05:21 PM »
Back in 1992 we 'joined' the carnival for a month. It first started with my husband going to work when the carnival came to the county fair. Then they asked him to go to the next town, so we all went but only my husband and son worked. Next it was to the state fair in the next state - we all worked it. At first the hours were only 8 a day, but by the end of the first week of the state fair the locals stopped showing up so that left us adults to work the 12 hour days. If not for the kids having to get back to school (homeschooled daughter but son attended public) we probably would have kept with them a little longer.

There is no question that it was quite an education and experience for all, especially our kids. Living with carny people is totally different than the 'normal' world. It is an experience I would not change but it was hard work. That said, you also had day(s) between that you could do site seeing. You tear down that night and next day, move; depending on schedule have a day(s), then set up and do the fair.

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2012, 08:44:15 PM »
I just finished providing communication support to the local Sheriff's department for the local fair.  My advice is to be very careful if you go to work in a carnival or circus as they always come under close scrutiny by Law Enforcers.  We had a situation that resulted in a child being put in control of Social Welfare and another where some one of the Carny crowd was caught trying to remove drugs that were hidden in the equipment.  It is always interesting as to the problems each year.  There were other problems but they were mostly minor.

Personally, I do not recommend you have anything to do with either of them.
Jim
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Gordon Groff

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 10:38:39 AM »
Interesting perspectives!   After I retire I may try, as Heiglmeir suggested, just hanging out and working with them for a day or two for free to see if there is a fit.  I know it sounds perverse, but I think I'd like something physically challenging.  I'm still relatively young (56) and healthy and have always enjoyed hard physical work, but as an overweight desk-jockey, don't do that anymore and am too lazy to hit the gym as much as I should.  A job that requires physical activity and a team effort to set up/tear down/do what needs done to make the show work actually sounds good to me right now.  Of course, the reality could change that in a hurry.  :P

At this point, it's speculation on my part.  Some days here at work I'm ready to pull the trigger right NOW, other days, I figure I should keep my job for another year or so as my financial advisors recommend.  Sorry if I misled anyone to think otherwise.  Just wanted to get some input from those who had any related experience with the circus or fairs.  Thanks for giving that, guys!  Sounds like it could be a good experience or a bad one, but either way, it would not be boring!

Gordon
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John From Detroit

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2012, 05:39:56 PM »
Another option is not the Circus but the county fair circuit,,  There are many "Amusement" companies that operate rides and other midway attractions (Games), as it happens I know one of them (Hampton Amusements) they need people who can travel around with them and set up, operate and take down the rides and game booths.

This is often seasonal work however.

Now, some of them are good, some ... Not so much, I recall I once called Terry Hampton's house, got one of his workers who was over visiting, (A sign of a good company) He gave me information we seriously needed on the job and this lead to one of my troopers (Well two of them) delivering a message that needed to be delivered and fast, with a minimum of delay..  (Death message).  Would not have been able to do that if I had not known Terry.

But his employee said only nice things about the Hamptons and not so nice things about another amusement operator I had heard of  (Carl Dick Amusements).

Thus you got to be careful who you sign on with.
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Pierat

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 09:32:27 AM »
There are a number of smaller circuses. One that is based in Oklahoma is: http://www.kellymillercircus.com/
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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2012, 10:01:50 AM »
I'm still relatively young (56) and healthy and have always enjoyed hard physical work, but as an overweight desk-jockey, don't do that anymore and am too lazy to hit the gym as much as I should.  A job that requires physical activity and a team effort to set up/tear down/do what needs done to make the show work actually sounds good to me right now.  Of course, the reality could change that in a hurry.  :P

At this point, it's speculation on my part.  Some days here at work I'm ready to pull the trigger right NOW, other days, I figure I should keep my job for another year or so as my financial advisors recommend.
Gordon

Running away to join the circus dos indeed sound like fun. My thinking is that they do not go year round, so it's a seasonal thing.  Also, if you're busy working the circus, you don't have time to run blow all your money, hence you could save up a tidy sum for traveling/relaxing afterwards.

I have a friend who is slightly deformed, giving him a very unique look. He was so sick and tired of discrimination that he joined clown school so he could run away with the circus. He ended up marrying a contortionist.  That was over 25 years ago and they are still running around with the circus. He is super happy even when not in clown costume.

If you listen your financial advisers, you probably won't get to go RVing until you're 84 and the circus will be out of the question at any time.

Life is a gift, waking up alive each day is precious.

Think about laying on your death bed... would you be happy that you stuck to your desk job and financial security or that you ran off in an RV to join the circus?

While money is certainly handy, happiness is worth A LOT more. Sometimes living on less brings a great deal more happiness than slaving away to keep the financial advisers happy.

There are other fun seasonal jobs such as Dollywood in Tennessee hires older RV-ers every year to work their amusement park.

It is a great way to top up the traveling kitty while doing a job that might have more fun and less stress.

I served my time as an executive chained to my desk,  in my first career.  But then I decided to make a life at sea. Everyone was totally against the idea except the new friends I made who were living/working on sailboats. The first year I made about 10% of my prior income, but I was 100 times happier. I could go on and on about all the wonderful places I sailed to and the unique opportunities that landed in my lap because I was messing about boats.

22 years later, when I landed back in America, I bought my little old motorhome while I figured out what to do next...  Again, my USA relatives and friends were all against me. But I pushed forward all alone with my crazy idea. For some reason everyone thought I came back to America to work in an office and slave away to have corporate perks.

Turns out I love the RV lifestyle but had no steady income, just royalties. I discovered workamping, so now I am juggling both. I workamp awhile socking away my erratic income, then I run off to travel and sightsee.   Even now where I am workamping, I take time to do some daytrips, often combined with grocery shopping.

I have no car, so I leave early in the morning, load up on supplies then go sightseeing the rest of the day in my RV with my dog and sometimes a friend sometimes not. I come back to my free camping at ngiht, plug in and go back to workamping. I love it! 

Be prepared for many people to be against your ideas and dreams, but it's your life and there is nothing wrong with putting the fun back in your daily existence.

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Gordon Groff

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2012, 07:34:58 AM »
Thanks for your encouraging and thoughtful post, Missmermaid!  Great perspective.  Checked out your site and could not resist picking up your book for my Kindle too.   Not my usual fare, but I love to read and it sure sounds like a fun romp through the islands!

Gordon
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DearMissMermaid

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2012, 08:43:23 AM »
*blush* 

Thanks for the lovely comments.

You can go Rving fulltime with a pocketful of cash or you can literally work your way while fulltime RVing. You may not get rich quick, but the perks are fantastic.

A couple can stop to work and sock away double the money. For instance Amazon hires elves from September-December that includes free camping plus hourly pay with loads of opportunities for overtime. A couple could work the maximum hours, have zero social life for the sacrifice of 4 moths hard work. If you plan carefully, you can drive away with enough funds to travel the other 8 months without working at all.

Think creatively.

For instance, many parks offer a monthly rate. Pick out 6 parks with monthly rates and spend 8 months traversing them. That's roughly a week of travel, then a month at a park, a week of travel then a month at a park and so on. You don't have to do the entire country if the gas cost is going to flatten your budget. Just pick a few states and stick around one area.  It cuts way back on gas costs, freeing up money for camping or food or maintenance or fun.

If you learn to cook healthy meals at home in the RV, you will save a bundle over dining out. If you cook healthy foods, then your medical costs will drop dramatically. Ditto for walking. Walking is free and a great way to sightsee while promoting better health.

It's also possible to juggle workamping and a job. For instance I met a couple who snagged a nice workamping situation. The husband does all of the workamping duties in exchange for free rent and utilities, while  his wife commutes to a fulltime job.
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Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Gordon Groff

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 09:04:31 AM »
Dear Missmermaid. - This may not be the proper venue, but I just have to know - Is Hurricanes and Hangovers for real?!?  Specifically: "The Regulars" - Did that really happen to poor Richard?   What a story!  If so, it's Truth stranger than Fiction.  Too bad it was so tragic, otherwise it would be hilariaous!  Must have been tough to figure out whether to laugh or cry, but looks like it was the event that propelled you on to the rest of your life's adventures.  I'm going to have to introduce your book to friends of ours who who "retired" to full time on a sailboat.  I love your non-prejudicial style of writing of alternative lifestyles and lack of acrimony toward the less "flexible" who I'm sure gave you grief at times.  If this is, indeed, largely autobiographical, I'm very impressed with your moxy and independance.  Specially for a "gull".

Anyway, just wanted to say I'm enjoying it and identify with much of it from my much younger days.    Things sure were different in the 70's!  Fun times.  Glad you survived them.  :)

Gordon
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DearMissMermaid

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2012, 03:58:40 PM »
So as not to spoil the book or story for others...  I sent you a private message, answering your questions.  ;D
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http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Tom

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2012, 04:31:12 PM »
Gordon, I was thinking of you this week; Our grandkids are visiting, and we took them to the circus (Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey). It was at an indoor stadium instead of a tent, so less setup. But, nevertheless, the crew worked non-stop, starting a long time before the show. Once the show was underway, they really had to hop on things to get them done in real time. Meanwhile, they were also manning the shovels any time the animals were in the ring; Shoveling up the poop, pouring sand on the wet bits and then shoveling it up.

I decided right there and then that I won't be running away to join the circus  ;D
« Last Edit: August 11, 2012, 04:33:03 PM by Tom »
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Gordon Groff

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2012, 07:22:03 PM »
LOL, Tom.  Some days at work, shoveling elephant poop looks like a step up! 

DearMissMermaid - I tried to reply, but your inbox is full.  Thanks for the note!  Poor Richard, Indeed!

Gordon
Gordon and Sweet Nancy
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8Lb. Papillon

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2012, 08:46:28 AM »
Quote
Some days at work, shoveling elephant poop looks like a step up!

I often felt the same. At least with the shoveling job, the objective was clear and it was pretty clear whether you had succeeded or failed.  Perhaps a bit repetitious, though.
Gary
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DearMissMermaid

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Re: Running Away to Join the Circus
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2012, 11:51:04 AM »
The circus is a seasonal job. You work your butt off, slaving away, slogging all your pay into the savings account. Chances are you're too tired to spend your money, so it piles up even faster. Then one day the circus is over for that year and you stumble away with your loot.

When I was working on charter yachts, I only worked about 15-20 weeks a year, but made plenty to live year round. However, those 15 weeks were  7 or more days in a row of 14-16 hour days, not only working but being cheerful 100% of the time.  Money just piled up in the bank, there wasn't time for me to blow any. Around December-January I often was gone 35-42 days in a row working nonstop. 

But the other 32-37 weeks of the year when I wasn't working  were absolutely awesome.
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Living, working. playing  in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

 

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