This week, as we reflect on the first five incredible years of FactZone I find myself thinking back to my introduction to the news program that would come to define my life.
I was going through an admittedly dark time then. I was living alone in a sparsely furnished one-bedroom house in the suburbs outside Chicago, paying for everything with the last of the money I had inherited from my dear mother after she passed on to Heaven six years earlier. I knew that the money would run out soon and that I would have to find a job, a prospect which terrified me. I had never before held employment. My insistence that my work environment be sanitized daily, either by having all the surfaces wiped down with anti-bacterial gel or by having disinfectant sprayed throughout the workspace in aerosol form precluded me from even considering most jobs. (You would be surprised how many employers refuse this tiny courtesy, apparently preferring to work in dens of filth and disease.) In the few interviews I did take, I usually fared poorly due to my lifelong problem with social anxiety. (TuckerFact: I once became so nervous during a job interview that I urinated in my slacks and had to sit in a puddle of my own urine until the interview concluded.) I had only embarked on one serious business venture in my life, and it had ended in failure: an attempt to sell touchscreen monitors I built by hand in my living room. After constructing six such monitors at enormous personal cost, I failed to attract even a single customer.
My larger problem, however, was that there were few professions I was even interested in pursuing. My only true passions in life were touchscreens, collecting cartoon images of cats, and African American history, none of which could be easily translated into a job.
Sick with worry, living solely on soup, I fell into a depression. I felt I would never achieve anything meaningful and die, as my father always told me, cold and alone on a threadbare mattress, the sound of dogs braying in the distance.
That is until the day when I turned on my television, flipped to The Onion News Network, and for the first time glimpsed my future: A news program with a set so sleek and clean it nearly shimmered. A news program with a host both beautiful and magnetic. A news program with a touchscreen even larger than those which came to me nightly in my dreams. FactZone it was called, and I knew immediately it was my destiny.
What followed was several years of writing letters to the program, hanging around outside the Onion News Network's studios in hopes of getting a moment to speak with Brooke Alvarez, following Brooke Alvarez to her home, and appearing in court to explain my actions. Finally, I caught a break when FactZone's touchscreen operator was killed. I campaigned hard for the newly opened position and, after being given a chance to display my formidable skills with tapping, pinching, and zooming, the job was mine.
The past several years working on FactZone have been the best of my life. The job has allowed me to travel the world, star in movies, and meet my two biggest idols, Brooke Alvarez and Garfield creator Jim Davis. But I never forget that moment when I was at my lowest and first laid eyes on a dream.