What Have We Learned?

April 2006 - As you no doubt recall from previous columns, most of my working life has been spent in a television newsroom. Not exactly healthy, what with all the stress and pizza you get exposed to over the years. But, over the years, I have managed to learn a thing or two. Namely, that one person's crap, when left in a newsroom, will soon be another person's crap.

Seriously, if you ever want to get rid of anything – and I mean anything – leave it in a newsroom. Someone will take it. If, by some small chance, it doesn't get taken, it must be REALLY bad.

Need proof? How do you think I got rid of my box o' Christmas crap? I took the stuff to the newsroom and spread it out on a table in as attractive a manner as possible. It didn't take long until the silicone baking sheet was gone! Someone actually said, "Ohhhh! Can I have that? I use them all the time!" Well, sure, you can have it. Who am I to say no? A short time later, the can colander? Gone! By the end of the night, the pickle forks? GONE! The only thing not gone? The candy cane brooch. I told you it was tacky. If no one in the newsroom wanted it, you know I wasn't lyin'.

You may also recall from previous columns that I watch way too much television. I've been a fan of Survivor since it came on the air in the summer of 2000. Although the players change, the host, Jeff Probst, does not. At every challenge, he explains what the game involves (count on getting very wet and/or very dirty) and what's at stake, maybe food or (dramatic pause here) immunity! Then – and why does he do this? – then, he says to the Survivors, "Worth playing for?" And, like the good little Survivors they are, they all say "Yes, Jeff." OK. Maybe they don’t ALL say that. Some may go for "Yeah!" while others settle for simply nodding their heads. My point is that the Survivors always agree that, whatever the stakes are, they are most definitely, without a doubt, worth playing for.

So, what I wonder is, what happens if a Survivor says "No." Imagine. The Survivors are standing there, preparing to compete. Jeff explains the game and then he asks THE QUESTION. He's hearing "You bet!" and "Uh huh" when, suddenly, one of them says, "No, it's not worth playing for." Then what? Does our favorite host take the renegade aside and try to convince him/her that, oh yes, it really is worth playing for? And, what if that didn't work? Would the Survivor have to sit out and maybe leave his/her team short-handed? Would he/she be kicked out of the game on the spot?

Before our intrepid host asks THE QUESTION again, maybe he better think about whether he really wants to know the answer.