Store workers get their heads in the game
“Survivor” fans keep track of televised show at work
The Pelzl Tribe has spoken.
During the last two years, employees at Pelzl's Do It Best Hardware have been busy during most seasons of "Survivor," deciding each week who would be voted off the show next.
Each week, employees, family and friends try to guess who will be sent home.
Employee Beth Tiner, who colleagues call the most "in" to the show, constructs "The Board" before each season. The newest season, "Survivor: Guatemala," starts next month. Tiner said Tuesday that she already was working on the newest "board."
Co-worker Tammy Starcher described the invention that keeps all the local "contestants" at Pelzl's in the know.
"It's a white poster board and they go into the computer and print the pictures of everyone playing on 'Survivor,'" Starcher explained.
In recent seasons, the board has become more elaborate. Tiner affixes Velcro to the backs of each of the castaways. Because the castaways nowadays will switch from one tribe to the other, the Velcro helps make them more mobile on the board.
Although no one wins any big prizes for winning the contests, they do receive a "trophy."
"Whoever wins, it's up to them to take it," Starcher said, referring to the board. "That's the prize -- the board."
Family and friends also get involved.
Starcher said her son, Shane, predicts who will be voted off, as do others.
Overall, Starcher estimated that 12 to 15 people participate in the contest each week.
Juanita DeMaranville, who also works at Pelzl's, said guessing each week's winner was no easy chore.
"I'm not right very often," DeMaranville said. "Sometimes I am."
Co-worker Sandy Inman agreed.
"It's anybody's guess and at the end of the week, nobody knows," Inman said.
DeMaranville said as the game progresses, picking castaways is more difficult. When the number dwindles to the final four, Pelzl's contestants have to pick who they think will win, followed by the final three castaways kicked off.
"It gets kind of complicated at the end," DeMaranville said.
Owner Don Pelzl occasionally plays the Survivor game. He and friend Kent Wilson, who works from time to time at the store, will play once in awhile.
"It depends on how much I get pestered," Pelzl said.
Starcher said the group actually didn't play the game during the most recent Survivor season. But with Tonganoxie native Danni Boatwright being a contestant, Starcher said interest will be high once again.
"We're all supporting Danielle," Starcher said. "We're excited about it."
Boatwright isn't the only castaway from Kansas this season.
Brandon Bellinger, a 22-year-old from Manhattan, will be competing with Boatwright in Guatemala.
Tiner said having local ties will be a plus for keeping area residents interested in this season's Survivor.
"That definitely is going to keep everybody glued," Tiner said.
Having a Tonganoxie native might help CBS gain some local viewers -- including Pelzl.
"I have never watched it ever," Pelzl said. "Now I might watch it because Danielle's in it."
No. 1 fan
Jenna Bradley watched "Survivor" from time to time before she started working at Pelzl's. Now she tries to tune in to CBS on Thursdays every week when "Survivor" is on.
"A little bit, but not as much as I do now," Bradley said. "Beth (Tiner) badgers me."
Tiner is the clear-cut No. 1 fan at Pelzl's.
She has watched all 11 seasons of "Survivor" and never misses an episode.
For Tiner, she's drawn to the show because it involves different people interacting with each other.
"I think at first I liked it because it was kind of like real life," Tiner said. "You just get sucked into it if you watch it once."
Tiner, who lives in Eudora, isn't the only area fan of the show. Several of her friends in Eudora watch the show religiously.
And during the last few seasons, she and her friends have a party at the end of the season, a themed event that usually reflects the location of that season's show. That normally translates into an island theme, Tiner said.
The new season starts Sept. 15, so Tiner and her fellow Pelzl's employees and friends still have time to do some homework on the new castaways.
"It's a fun thing," Starcher said. "We have fun doing it."