A chance meeting with a Star Trek fan at a work event led me to spring a little surprise on him as I pretended to not know what he was talking about.
For the most part, it has become pretty well known in my work circles that I’m a pretty intense Star Trek fan. There are certainly times when I’ve hidden it to try and maintain a certain degree of professional decorum. And then there are other times when I’ve pushed the limits, and the patience, of my co-workers with my obsession.
Whether it’s dropping a reference to Galorndon Core in a staff meeting or heading down the rabbit hole when a particular actor is mentioned and I invariably start relaying all of their Star Trek connections, it’s something I’ve definitely become more brazen with over the years.
One of my favorite boundary-pushing moments came in the late ’90s in a press box following a game. I work in professional sports and find myself in all kinds of different work environments. On a field for training. On a plane or in a hotel for travel. In the bowels of different stadiums all over the world.
On this particular day I was in an empty press box with just a couple of colleagues from other organizations. One of them, out of earshot of everyone else, started talking to me about Star Trek out of the blue. I’d never spoken to him about any topics beyond sports, so he obviously knew from my sometimes bombastic personality that I was a Trekkie.
He was a quiet guy and it is not unfair to say he was coming out to me as a fellow Trek fan. He started with, “Hey, James. So I see that you’re a Star Trek fan, huh?” I looked at him and immediately set my plan in motion. I responded very passively. “Uh, yeah, I guess…”
He looked worried. (I can see him thinking, “Oh, no. He’s not that big a fan.”) He stumbled on. “I, uh, have always been a big fan. Really love the original series.” As he speaks, I pull my briefcase into my lap and start rummaging through it, apparently distracted and disinterested in what he is saying. Without making eye contact I respond with an unimpassioned, “Yeah, pretty good show.”
He’s dying now. I can see the wheels turning. “This guy could give two shits about Star Trek,” he’s thinking. “I’ve exposed myself. Need to get off this topic.”
As he starts to speak again, I suddenly reach into my bag and spin around to face him in the tiny, long narrow row of chairs we are sitting in alone. In my hand I’ve whipped out a fully functional original series communicator. I flick it open and the familiar lights engage and the sound effects echo through the empty press box.
I bellow, “Captain, lock on to our coordinates and beam us out of here!” He’s stunned to silence.
“Dude, I freaking love Star Trek! Who’s your favorite captain?!? Are you loving Voyager? How about Sisko?”
In an instant I see the relief in his face: “Oh, thank god. I was thinking, ‘This guy does not like Star Trek that much.’ Ha!”
From there, as we all do when we find a like-minded Trekkie, we bonded over a great conversation about all things Trek. And I even let him give my communicator a try.