Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stupid People Do Stupid Things: Two Stories That Will Probably Get The Sympathy Vote of Millions Of People

Sympathy. It can be a good thing, and a bad thing. During the holidays, the need is always apparent to help the needy. But many times, the needy aren't that needy. This past weekend I worked on the season finale reunion show of "Survivor: China." Denise Martin, a former school lunch room worker who finished fourth in the competition, told everyone that, when she returned home after the taping of "Survivor," she had lost her job. "I went back and I talked to the food service director, and they didn't give me my job back," Martin said, "so I ended up having to go -- I'm a janitor now. I clean the toilets, I wash the floors of the bathrooms, I vacuum the kids' rugs. I miss dinner with my family. I haven't been to a field hockey game yet. I'm missing out on a lot more than I originally had planned on doing." Survivor: China’s lunch lady contestant Denise Martin may not have won the $1 million prize but her sob story about being demoted from lunch lady to janitor during Sunday’s finale earned her $50,000 on behalf of producer Mark Burnett.

Near the end of the show, amist a bunch of chaois, host Jeff Probst announced a surprise for Martin -- a spontaneous one, at that. "This is very much a live show, and our boss and the creator of this show, Mark Burnett, was backstage listening to Denise's story. And, I'm not kidding: Just now on a break, he said to let Denise know that Mark Burnett is going to give Denise $50,000!" The next day, school officials where Martin works received thousands of e-mails accusing them of treating her unfairly. But it turns out, the lunch lady's story may be out to lunch.

Now, Nancy T. Lane, the superintendent of the Douglas Public Schools in Douglas, Mass., is saying that Denise lied to America. Apparently Denise had been promoted, not demoted, from lunch lady to janitor per her request. “Yeah, I watched my own jaw drop when she said that, because it’s absolutely not true,” Lane told EW. “I can empathize, having been a working mother. It’s tough to work those night shifts. But she took the job; that’s the job she took leave from [to do Survivor]. If she wants to go back to the day shift, she should apply when one comes open… It’s difficult to grasp. We did nothing but encourage her. She took leave for almost three months, she was given additional times off when ever she needed it. Now she says this on national TV…. Douglas is a nice little town. Everybody was rooting for her, the local paper was bending over backwards with positive articles. Then to have it end this way. Talk about a letdown.” The district released the following official statement concerning the scam...

Press Release: Mrs. Denise Martin
December 17, 2007
Douglas Public Schools

On the “Survivor China” television program that aired on December 16, 2007, Mrs. Denise Martin, an employee of the Douglas Public Schools, stated that she was demoted from her position as a cafeteria worker upon her return from taping the show. This statement is false. In fact, Mrs. Martin held a full-time position as a custodian prior to her participation in the series, and she returned to this same position upon her return from China. Mrs. Martin was granted - at her request - an unpaid leave of absence so that she could participate in the “Survivor” program. We were pleased and excited to support Denise, and have enthusiastically cheered her on throughout the duration of the show.

Although Mrs. Martin was a cafeteria employee prior to her selection as a contestant, she asked to be considered for a promotion to full-time custodian, and was promoted to this position on March 30, 2007. This promotion came with additional benefits and a higher salary. Following her leave, she then returned to this same position.

Regretfully, the Douglas Public School District was inaccurately portrayed as failing to be accommodating to an employee during what the District viewed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. This is far from the case. On the contrary, we granted all requests made by Mrs. Martin so that she could participate in the “Survivor” series. Since Mrs. Martin was on an approved leave, her position was held open for her, and she returned to this same position upon her return from China. As a District, we make every effort to support our employees, and will continue to do so.

Nancy T. Lane
Superintendent of Schools

"It was not my intention to be misleading," Martin said from studio in Los Angeles. "I'm sorry," Martin continued, sounding as though she was near tears. "And I apologize to everybody. Believe me, I wish none of this had happened. I couldn't say I’m sorry enough." On the CBS Early Show on Monday, Julie Chen, asked another question. "Denise, what about the $50,000 you got for what appeared to be a sob story?" Martin stammered, but didn’t answer. "It was not in my intention," Martin said. "I had no idea I was going to be awarded that." With eight seconds left in the segment, Chen pushed harder, asking whether she was going to keep the money. Martin shook her head from side to side but never said yes or no. And people wonder why we question charity, hunh?

In another stupid person, totally unrelated story, it appears that another Spears baby is reportedly on the way -- and it's not Britney's. Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old "Zoey 101" star and sister of Britney, told OK! magazine that she's pregnant and that the father is her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge. What message does she want to send to other teens about premarital sex? "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," she told the magazine. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in." Lynne Spears, already grandmother to Britney's young sons, told the magazine: "I didn't believe it because Jamie Lynn's always been so conscientious. She's never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby." Nickelodeon released a statement: "We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn's well being. "It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," Spears said. "I was in complete and total shock." Jamie Lynn plans to raise the baby in her home state of Louisiana -- "so it can have a normal family life." It? Your baby is an it? Talk about the moral decline in America, hunh?

What is it with the moral decline in our country? Can't people tell the truth? Why is it that teenagers treat sex like it's a video game? It's pathetic to see what we've become and how people can be so stupid. I understand that Survivor is just a TV reality game. I guess the lunch lady pulled off the final "outplay" on the show. And Brit's sister figured out how to "outlay" her big sister. It just makes me proud to think that people actually will have sympathy for these people. They got into their own bucket of crap and I hope they pay for it. No sympathy here people...just disgust...utter disgust.