Steve Eaton: Weekend may spark traumatic Star Trek memories for columnist

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 3:17 p.m. MDT

Zachary Quinto is Spock and Chris Pine is Kirk in "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Paramount Pictures

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This weekend, thousands of Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike will be off to see the latest Star Trek movie. I will probably go too, but I will see the whole experience differently than others because I had a traumatic experience with Captain Kirk and Spock that may have me calling Scotty for help before the movie is over.

It happened when I worked in a tall building in downtown Seattle. My company had a bonus system tied to certain financial goals. One year it had good news to announce so it decided to hold a big meeting in a convention center and use the opportunity to show employees they were loved, in hopes they would continue to work hard to make the spreadsheets happy.

The department I worked for was tasked with making this celebration memorable. I can’t remember the thought process we went through, but somehow we decided that we would go all-out with a sci-fi theme and even managed to persuade the CEO to dress up like Captain Kirk and the COO to dress up like a Spock.

We dimmed the lights and used spotlights in the ceiling that rotated around on the crowd of bewildered office workers. We handed out tiny pin lights to about 500 employees, which created this concert-like sea of moving lights from the floor. The room was equipped with an impressive sound system, and we used it to play music from the “Twilight Zone,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Star Wars” and, of course, “Star Trek.” Are you following me? Can you envision this in your mind? If you are thinking cult, you are on the right track.

So far, it sounds weird but fun, right? A nice break from the day-to-day corporate battles.

Here’s where the scary part comes in. A few weeks before we held this meeting some employees had been laid off. I forget how it was that times were so bad that we had to lay off people and then hold a celebration a few weeks later because we made so much money, but I’m sure the two events were not connected. We started to hear rumors that the laid off employees were not as happy as those who would be getting bonuses and that someone had called the TV people in hopes reporters would show up and make the company look bad.

This is where I came in. I was told to stand out in front of this conference room and if any TV reporters showed up, I was to convince them that they had wasted their time and that this was nothing more than a routine meeting. Of course, I couldn’t physically stop them from coming in by calling security; that would be dumb PR. I guess I was just supposed to use my sci-fi powers to get them to leave, just like Oh Gee Ka Know Be did in "Star Wars."

“You do not want to come to this meeting,” I would say with a wave of my hand.

Did I mention that I would be standing in front of several wide-open doors so that anyone who came within 50 feet of the room would be able to see the light show, hear the music and see what would appear to be Captain Kirk and Spock speaking live?

It was a very unpleasant experience for me because if you know anything about reporters, if you ever try to convince them that they shouldn’t go somewhere, oh, that’s exactly where they HAVE to go. You could even get them to attend a family history convention by banning them from it.

Miraculously, no one came to crash our party, but the damage was already done to me. I now suffer from PTSTPRTS, Post Traumatic Star Trek Public Relations Trauma Syndrome, a condition so severe that trauma is used twice in the title.

So, if you arrive at the theater in the next few days and find one very stressed person out in front of the building waving his hands and trying to talk people out of going in, don’t be alarmed. It’s just me. I’m having another episode and I’ve relapsed. Take in another showing. It won’t kill you to wait. Pretend you are obeying the prime directive and decide you don’t want to interfere with a primitive life form, which in this case would be me. It may just allow one person to live long and prosper, me.

You know, Captain Kirk would have wanted it that way.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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