Never before in my avid television watching have I experienced the kind of elation that I did watching the final episode of “Amazing Race” Wednesday night.
I’m not an avid sports enthusiast so I have never understood the jump up and down, scream at the TV action that usually surrounds the practice of watching teams duke it out on screen. But when my team, the couple I was rooting for from day one of this race around the world, crossed the finish line I became a version of myself that I did not know was possible.
With five agonizing minutes left to the show, my team had a delicate lead on the other two teams. Anything could happen. Uchenna and Joyce were strong competitors, but they had been known to take the wrong turn and fall into last place. Already on this episode a flat tire caused them to lose their lead on Rob and Amber, the conniving team made famous from “Survivor,” and Ron and Kelly, the bickering couple made up of the former POW and beauty queen.
I began talking to Uchenna and Joyce, encouraging them to move faster. They had a tendency of being overly meticulous with their challenges. I had a horrible feeling they were going to lose because they wouldn’t cut any corners. Come on cheat a little, I said, do something, or you will never make it.
They were one of my favorite teams from the start of the race many weeks ago. They were just good people – supportive and patient with each other and fair to the other teams. On one episode, Uchenna tried to help the oldest team with a difficult physical challenge even though it could have set them back in their own race. A few weeks before they had given some of their clothes to the same couple who came in last on one leg of the race and were forced to continue without any possessions.
Their good deeds were significant because they were obviously genuine. It wasn’t for show or to get something in return. It was as simple as lending a neighborly hand and conducting themselves in a manner they could be proud of when they watched themselves on TV.
No way is this gonna end well, I told myself. They are way too nice. They lack the selfish, deceitful edge needed to jump in front of the other teams and make their way to the finish line. I was giving up faith that good people can finish first. It seemed in this race that teams were getting ahead by bending the rules, manipulating the system or being ruthless competitors, all discouraging things that occur in real life as well.
So when Uchenna and Joyce, who had no money on this last leg of the race, ran out of money on the cab ride to the finish line and were forced to beg, I started yelling at them to just keep going. But no – Uchenna would not leave the cab driver without paying him for exactly what the meter read. So just yards away from the finish line, Uchenna and Joyce stopped to ask for money from strangers to pay the taxi.
It was all too much. I stood up, leaning closer to the television in anticipation. My mom, watching too, dropped to the floor and my brother started nervously pulling his hair. This was it. Rob and Amber would swoop in, push Uchenna and Joyce out of the way if they had to and claim first place and the $1 million prize.
But something else happened. My team paid the cab driver and tore off to the finish line. They won. I got goose bumps as they cried and celebrated their victory. For that minute of reality television, all was right with the world. My team was first, the good guys won and I’m convinced my cheering helped them do it.
Bailey Porter, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.