Monday, March 21, 2016

Life is Not Fair

Maybe I’m still feeling echoes from that blog I reposted about my bad luck in the workplace, but the other day I got thinking about Survivor. the reality TV show. I was an avid fan for the first couple of seasons, then lost interest as I realized it was total a-holes screwing over each other, with the biggest a-hole getting rewarded with a million bucks. Watching Survivor is like reliving a bad experience with office politics in the worst job you’ve ever had. I’ve had enough of that in real life, thank you very much.

In one of the last times I tuned in, it was because some local woman had been picked as a contestant. Nobody I knew. She didn’t even live in the area any more. But she had at one time, so she got a lot of pre-show press coverage here in Dutch Country. I turned on the show to see this local celebrity. She was one of those annoying people who’s always chirpy and upbeat, with a penchant for bursting into song at inappropriate moments. She was probably a morning person too. She and nineteen other people got dumped on a tropical island. Let the games begin.

Oh, wait, not just yet. Once they’d settled on the beach, Jeff Probst announced this season’s twist: they had too many contestants. Before the game even got started, two players would have to go. Method of determination: schoolyard choose-up.

Yeah. No contests, no challenge, no demonstration of skills. The first two people to reach the island were named the heads of their “tribes.” They each picked a person. Those people then picked two people, and so on down the line. The two left over at the end were eliminated from the game.

I wasn’t at all surprised when Annoying Local Woman didn’t make the cut. There’s a time and place for show tunes, and it isn’t on a tropical island with a bunch of hungry, sweaty strangers. Or any place other than a Broadway stage, for that matter.

So they shipped her back to Dutch Country, singing all the way, along with the other guy who wasn’t picked to play. I didn’t learn much about him in the half hour leading up to the team selections. He didn’t get much air time. Not at all surprising, considering how it turned out.

Without the benefit of film clips, we the viewers were left to wonder why he wasn’t picked. He was a young, good-looking, healthy-seeming guy. He didn’t display any bad habits during his five seconds of air time. So why was he left standing on the beach? I have no idea.

I’ll bet he didn’t either. It must have really pissed him off. No telling how many times he auditioned before he finally got the nod. He probably prepped like mad, getting himself into physical shape, learning survival skills, studying past seasons of the show, planning his strategy. He probably already had the million dollars spent in his mind. This was it, his one big shot, his fifteen minutes—or sixteen hour-long episodes—of fame.

Then he gets to the island, and only then finds out they’ve changed the rules. Five minutes later it’s over. He’s out of the game before the game even started, because none of the other kids on the playground wanted him on their team. So much for weeks of prep.

To add insult to injury, this was the first time Survivor had ever played the game this way, dumping two people right at the outset. To my knowledge, it was also the last. Never before, and as far as I know never since, have they done it this way. Just that one time. Somebody with a brain probably realized it was expensive, not to mention pointless, to ship twenty people out to Pango Pango if you really only wanted eighteen. Or maybe Annoying Local Woman sued them for breach of contract. She signed on to play the game and then the show reneged. If I was a lawyer I would have represented her, as long as she didn’t sing in court.

They did this on Amazing Race as well. Maybe it was even the same year. One time, one season only, they brought in twelve teams and then cut one right at the starting line. At least this happened by challenge. Twelve teams competed in a mini-contest. Last to finish got sent home then and there. Again, what was the point, other than to crush somebody’s hopes and dreams right off the bat on national television?

None of this helps that guy, or that race team. This was their shot at the big time. How were they to know the game would change the one time they got to play? Or that the rules would change back for every subsequent season, after their one chance was over? Timing is everything, and sometimes it sucks. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Take it from me. I’ve had too many jobs yanked out from under me because the rules changed after I got there. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with that happens. Stay flexible, I guess. And get out of the traditional work force. Start your own job and make your own rules, and adapt them as needed to a changing marketplace. My current job could go belly-up at any second, with no warning, and through no fault of mine. I should be concocting a Plan B, C, and D right now, just to keep my butt well and fully covered.

And not waste time watching Survivor, though I’ll stick with Amazing Race. I like Phil. He comes across as a nice guy. And nobody sings show tunes on there because they’re all out of breath. That right there’s enough to recommend it.

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