Takin’ Out The Trash, Trivia-Style

March 15, 2013


Last weekend there was a big trivia bee to raise money for schools.  I was asked to be on a team and – because of my nerdiness – jumped at it.  I didn’t think much of it, but as it got closer, it became more and more apparent that this wasn’t a little “Hey, have a few beers!  Do some trivia!  High-five each other for knowing that Timothy Hutton won the Academy Award for Ordinary People!”  For starters, it wasn’t in a bar, it was in a very large, very classy theater.  Also, it was catered.  And there were programs.  And each team sponsor had to pay $500 to enter.  And…

You get the idea.

No ankles.

No spring in the ankles.

It went from a fun get together with some guys from work, to something that had me walking around in the days leading up muttering, “Arizona was the last state admitted to the union before Alaska and Hawaii.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the NBA record for fouls.  The elephant is the only land mammal that can’t jump.”

Most teams were sponsored by big players – research labs, law firms, etc.  We were sponsored by the garbage company.  I’m not saying that with embarrassment; I loved it.  People often dress up, so we got the whole uniform: reflective vest, hats, work gloves, boots, etc.  Then we threw empty garbage cans into the audience and shouted lewd things at the women.

Only not really on that last part.

I thought, this will be fun and all, but who‘s going to come to a theater and watch a trivia contest?  Everyone, apparently, with money who wants to get drunk and feel like a philanthropist.  My wife and our friend couldn’t even get in because they didn’t reserve tickets.

There were 7 preliminary rounds.  Each round had 7 teams. 9 questions, 20 seconds to answer.  Whoever gets the most right, advances to the championship round against the other prelim winners.

We were in the first round.



First question: What band, formed in 1972, featured potato-people on the cover of its fifth album?  I answered, with great dignity and elegance, “Devo.  Devo!   DEVO!!”  BOOM.  VICTORY.

This turned out to be a practice question.  Oh.  But the tone was set.

We – how can I put this nicely? – totally dominated our round, likely driving our opponents into a spiral of shame and self-hatred that can only end in a burbling swamp of booze, tears, and madness.

“Hey, Beeker,” I didn’t say.  “Eyes on your own work or I’ll be blinding you with science.”

“Hey, Beaker,” I didn’t say. “Eyes on your own work or I’ll be blinding you with science.”

The guys from the research lab even tried to cheat off us.  I know, what?!

During the down-time until the championship round, people came up to us in a steady stream saying things like, “Hey, I know it’s not glamorous, but the work you guys do is so important” and “It was great watching you take down the brain trust!”

Everyone thought we actually were garbage men.

Some of it was kind of condescending, but mostly people genuinely loved the idea of the bluest of blue collars showing up – apparently with no time to change out of their work clothes – and crushing.

The championship round started off a little rough.  We made a comeback, but there was a science question that our science guy KNEW… then CHANGED it… then was – you know where this is going – RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

That one question knocked us out of the tie-breaker.  And we knew the tie-breaker questions.  Ouch.

So, we came in third. I even replayed it in my head in bed later, as if we’d botched the play in the 4th quarter of the big game.  “If only we’d ____, and then ____, victory would have been ours!”

But still.  Not bad for a humble sanitation engineer.

, , , ,

About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

View all posts by The Byronic Man


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

47 Comments on “Takin’ Out The Trash, Trivia-Style”

  1. Life With The Top Down Says:

    Well that certainly sounds like a fun night for a great cause. Not to mention this could be the start of a new game show “Are You Smarter Than Your Trash Man?” Congrats to you and your team for partaking in the festivities.


  2. speaker7 Says:

    As someone who consistently sucks at trivial pursuit, I applaud your effort. I know about these “hey let’s do this fun thing” and turns into something deadly serious. Today, I am participating in a “fun” March Madness free throw contestant which pits teacher against teacher, and I’ve been practicing like a fiend, and I sweat like Robert Hayes at the end of Airplane and I grind my teeth because it’s just “fun.”


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      A friend of mine once got randomly selected to do one of those ‘how many free throws can you make’ things during half-time, and he wound up being just on fire. He won something cool, I think.


  3. Go Jules Go Says:

    But you got to think about jumping land mammals and wear a costume. Who’s the loser now?


  4. JM Randolph Says:

    My day is made solely because of the bit of elephant trivia with the accompanying caption under its picture. Thank you.


  5. The Cutter Says:

    Ugh, that Devo album cover. For some reason as a child, that cover scared the crap out of me.


  6. Soma Mukherjee Says:

    Don’t you just love it when you get the answer and it turns out to be a mock one!

    what it didn’t happen! you were kidding!

    uh well it didn’t happen to me either except for …it was nothing


  7. Anka Says:

    If I were in the audience, I’d definitely be pulling for the blue-collared workers too. My usual stance when it comes to competition is to root for the underdogs. As for the science guy in your group, he should’ve known better. You always go with your first answer. You’ve gotta stick to your gut!


  8. rachelocal Says:

    Ah! Being right the first time is THE WORST! Congrats on your third place victory!


  9. pegoleg Says:

    Oh. My. God. I can’t believe this. The same, exact thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. My trivia team was sponsored by the Rotary. The only difference between YOUR experience and MINE is that we didn’t wear the nifty sanitation engineer outfits. Oh, and we won. Cha-CHING! (identify the contents of these bottles by the shape of the bottle. Pace Picante sauce bottle, changed to the CORRECT answer at the last minute by, you guessed it, yours truly. I’m still floating off the high from that night.)


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Congratulations! That’s the best, when it’s the opposite of the “should have stuck with my first instinct” thing. JUST getting the right answer in under the wire.


  10. UndercoverL Says:

    Little tid-bit of trivia for you: the artist from Yo Gabba Gabba is Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo. You’re welcome


  11. Audrey Says:

    Sounds like you guys really held your own though! And for all the hooplah, it turned out to be a fun night too. 🙂


  12. She's a Maineiac Says:

    I always root for the humble sanitation engineers! Well, at least you had fun. Too bad they didn’t ask anything about Nirvana, you would have been golden. I have never seen that Devo cover before. I know, I really haven’t lived, have I?

    I am so good at these kind of trivia games. (unless they ask Devo questions) Always crushed my older brothers at Trivial Pursuit. Should have been on Jeopardy.


  13. Dana Says:

    BOOM goes the sanitation engineer!

    It lifts my spirits to think of *actual* garbage men rushing from work to participate in a trivia smackdown, not even having the time to change out of their work outfits. What a perfect thought. 🙂


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      “The cans rolled in to the road!”

      “Leave ’em! The first round is in 20 minutes! Get in the truck, I’m not stopping for yellow lights!”


      • Dana Says:

        I’m imagining a driver, a passenger, and then a whole flock of garbage men standing on the back of the garbage truck, holding on for dear life as they speed to the trivia contest.


  14. Elyse Says:

    The perfect thing to do with all that garbage we all keep in our heads. Well done!


  15. thesinglecell Says:

    The part where everyone thinks you’re really the sanitation folks is the best part of the whole thing. So… you guys: Smart. Audience: not so much.


  16. Every Record Tells A Story Says:

    The last time I had a quiz night at my kids’ school, there was a tie which was settled by a dance-off. I haven’t been back…


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I was ready for the dance-off. My grandfather always told me “You never know when you’re going to need to be in a dance off. To win the contest, to save the Rec Center, to avoid a gang war…” So I’m prepared.


  17. mistyslaws Says:

    So, were the winners faux construction workers? And did you guys all mix it up at the end and perform a rousing rendition of YMCA?


  18. Jackie Cangro Says:

    If your team wasn’t really a group of sanitation workers, then was the team from the research lab really scientists? Maybe they were really the sanitation guys.


  19. silkpurseproductions Says:

    I think the you and your team may have made the whole “garbage man” outfit work. Perhaps the Village People will add one to their cast of characters.


  20. Laura Says:

    But … what was the science question? You can’t leave important details like that out of your story. Without the question, I have no way of knowing whether I know the answer. How can I tell whether I should feel superior or not?


  21. genkiduck Says:

    Hey, third is still pretty good for a bunch of garbage men! :p

    I know the feeling of post-question regret, I participated in a pub quiz recently and a physics answer that someone made me change, that I was pretty sure I was right on (and I was right on) still haunts me. We also had our “sports/math” guy show up to the pub already drunk out of his mind and regularly threaten to fight to the death on answers he was certain about (which were only sometimes right).


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That’s always a tough one – the teammate who’s drunk. You hate to be the person who gets bent out of shape because they’re too drunk for trivia, but… on the other hand… COME ON, MAN! It’s a competition!


  22. pjsarecomfyn Says:

    Sounds like an amazing evening! Down with the brainiacs!….Also: can you give me an estimate on a large item pick-up?


  23. Blogdramedy Says:

    Cool. It’s Trash Can Man. Finally…a Stephen King reference I can actually use.


Every Time You Leave A Comment, An Angel Gets Its Wings.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: