Eagle Semen: The Story of TechTV employee Number One
By: Russ Pitts
This is the story of my two years as a writer and producer for The Screen Savers on TechTV. And, perhaps, an explanation of why I sent an email to the entire company telling them I didn’t care if they drowned in eagle semen.
Part One: The Perfect Noun
It took me three days to come up with the perfect noun.
I probably could have gone with any number of things, but this was to be my magnum opus, my final word on top of the hundreds of thousands of words that had so far failed to prove my point. I’d written thousands of words per day at TechTV, for over 700 days and on that day, that word would be my very last. I wanted it to be extra special.
I’d given my notice about a month prior. I was planning to move East, go back to working in theater and maybe regain some of my sanity. The past two years had been a long succession of hard lessons about myself, life and the mindless cruelty of the universe. I’d learned that I could go almost four days without sleep and still write decent dialogue. I’d learned that too much coffee poured on top of too much stress would send me to the hospital. I’d learned that people don’t communicate very well, not really. Not with actual, uncensored thoughts. They tell each other what each thinks the other wants to hear, and, as a result, communicate nothing. I’d also learned that communicating an uncensored thought into such an environment, therefore, can be revolutionary.
On that day, my last day, I was preparing to do just that. I’d been spending every day for the past two weeks writing down exactly what I thought of my soon-to-be former employers, my soon-to-be former colleagues and my soon-to-be former career. I was writing down my exact, uncensored thoughts about the time we’d shared, the frustrations we’d endured and the work we’d performed together, which I thought at the time had suffered due to constant, unrelenting mediocrity at levels beyond our control.
This wasn’t just a rant I was constructing, it was a manifesto. After I had written and delivered it, I discovered almost half its intended recipients became concerned for their safety, worried I’d be returning with a gun. Many of my colleagues wouldn’t speak to me for years after the message was sent, and a great many organizations silently marked me down in their little, black books titled “Do Not Hire.” Some of them still have me there.
Strangely, an equal number of people thought what I wrote was the greatest thing they’d ever read. There were countless souls at TechTV who shared my frustrations and, like me, had yet to find the voice to communicate them. To them, I was a hero, the rebel vigilante who, with his parting shot, struck deep into the belly of the beast, the company we had all poured so much of our lives into and which had, in the end, betrayed us.
That’s the power of a word. The right word, at the right time can galvanize a body of people, cause some to recoil in disgust, and others to rise up in defiance. Words can tear apart, but they can also heal and the best of them can do both simultaneously. Those were the kind of words I was looking for. I’d spent days weighing one noun against the other, and eventually I made my choice.
The noun, I decided, would be “eagle semen.” Yes. “I couldn’t care less if the entire building spontaneously filled with eagle semen.” Perfect.
I pressed “send” put on my cowboy hat and walked over to the studio to watch the last episode I’d ever see of the show I’d helped produce for two years.