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Meet the Geeks: It’s Mercy!

Published April 23, 2024

It’s been a while since Meet the Geeks caught up with one of our regional managers, our team of folks who communicate with venue owners and quizmasters to make hundreds of trivia nights across the country run smoothly. Previously, we’ve chatted with the Viceroy of the West, the Archduke of the Rockies, and the Imperator of Texas, but today we turn to the Empress of the Northeast, Mercy Martin! Read on to hear about cross time-zone coordination, crosswording perseverance, and the most serendipitous layoff of all time.

First things first: What are some geeky things about you? 

I like to look out the window on the airplane and look at maps while I do it. “Oh, there’s Mt. Hood, oh, there’s this,” and I try to figure out where we are on the map the whole flight. Gaming is also one of the big ones. I just got a Steam Deck. I’ve bought way too many Humble Bundles – my Steam library is 300-something games, and almost 200 expansions and DLCs. I have quite the catalog. 

I’m also into interior design and architecture, I’m just dabbling in learning art history. I can watch YouTube videos of that stuff all day. And I really like cats and Pokémon, my whole sleeve here is all just cats and cat girls and cat versions of Eeveelutions. It’s my “kitties and titties” arm.

Mercy’s “kitties and titties” sleeve.

How did you get into the Geeks Who Drink ecosystem, which I like to call “the Geekosystem?”

In the tail end of college, I started working at the brewery on campus, and I had been going to quiz nights. I was like, “I could do that here,” and after months of planting the seed with my manager, she had me do a night during Craft Beer Week. It was a hit, and then we did it every week. I wrote the content, hosted the quiz, made the calendar each quarter at a time, and did that until the pandemic. It was an early retirement from the beer and brewing industry, into my real adult life.

Mercy at her campus brewery.

As things started opening back up again, I started hosting for a couple different trivia companies. It was definitely something that filled my cup as I was working as an admin assistant for a Fortune 500 company… That was not a great job, but it paid the bills. 

I started hosting for Geeks in February 2022, and I had been hosting for five years by that point. I also hosted quiz online during the pandemic, “quarantrivia.” Thought that would only go a couple weeks, max! 

And how did you get your current full-time gig?

That was in August 2022. It’s kind of a wild story how I got the job. I was working sales for a tech company, and I could tell they were reeling stuff back. I started to put out feelers, I had this talk with myself: “Am I gonna make trivia my full time thing?” The job opening presents itself, and between my trivia and my sales and admin stuff, I felt like I was perfectly qualified, so I applied.

The day I was told I got the job, I was going to meet with my boss the next day to put in my two weeks. But then they put a meeting on my calendar for noon, and they got rid of our entire sales team! So the timing was absolutely perfect.

And hey, that just means you have a couple weeks vacation!

Dude, they did give us two weeks severance, I was like, “sick!” But I did have COVID, so I just stared at the wall for two weeks. 

What speaks to you about trivia?

I really like the fact that a good team is a mixed bag of people of different backgrounds. I’ll watch recorded episodes of Jeopardy before I start my work day while sipping my coffee. I don’t think there’s a bad rep for having a lot of knowledge nowadays, unlike how it might have been for Gen X. If you like something, that’s good! Enjoy life, learn more about it, it brings a little bit of a texture to your personality. And pub quiz is a good time, two hours engaging with friends and learning things, showing off… I love how seriously people take it sometimes. But cheating is not cool!

Cheating at trivia is maybe the lamest thing you can do. 

Yeah, you’re cheating for a five dollar beer? Come talk to me, I’ll buy a beer.

They call you the “Empress of the Northeast,” right?

Yeah, that’s the official-unofficial title on our map. To the joy of the people of South Carolina, they’re part of the “Northeast.” My region is more like the Colonies, minus Georgia.

What does your role as a regional manager look like?

You’re doing certain things the same every day, making sure there are no substitution requests from quizmasters, and doing whatever you can to get subs ahead of time. But sometimes people have last minute subs, and with me on the West Coast and my region on the East Coast, that three hour delay – that’s one of the most wild parts of the job. 

We’ve got venues that are super different, from your typical brewery with pub fare where you’d expect quiz, to something like an axe-throwing venue or a board game store. Every venue and host has different needs. We’re doing venue launches and venue terminations and A/V checks. Sometimes we need to coach hosts, maybe they’re soft-spoken… or maybe they took six shots at quiz when they shouldn’t have. 

Our quizmaster handbook is pretty beefy, but without fail, things happen and we realize we need to create a new policy. It keeps me on my toes, but I have amazing management and an amazing team that I work with. I’m lucky to have my direct manager Stefani and the other regional managers. We all have our own regions but we’ll tag in to help anybody out, whether we need to run errands or it’s just because three of us are hosting on a Wednesday night. 

If I had to explain my job, I would just show my inbox first thing in the morning. The amount of emails and text messages I send and get sent throughout the day, just as a screenshot.

And how do you like to spend your days when you’re off the clock, beyond watching architecture videos on YouTube?

Honestly I travel a ton, and I go to so many concerts and shows. Tonight I’m going to a Finnish folk metal show. I love going thrifting and having my iced coffee in hand, walking around vintage stores in Orange and Pasadena. My ideal day is crosswords, coffee, thrifting.

[Pulling over a nearby half-completed crossword puzzle from off-screen] Oh yeah, I hear you. 

I love it! Hold on – [Also pulls over a nearby half-completed crossword puzzle from off-screen]

I’ve been trying to do cryptic crosswords, where each clue is like an arcane word puzzle. For like a year, I look it and never have any idea what’s going on, but something happened at midnight last night–

And it clicked!

Something turned on. I felt like Neo in the Matrix.

I love that so much for you! I do the Morning Brew usually. I have this one [holding up the Blockbuster Book of Easy Crosswords] – I got the medium one from the New York Times, and I was like, “These are extra-medium!”

Wrapping up… it’s a trivia company, so I gotta ask: What’s an interesting thing you’ve learned in your time here?

Ants keep aphids and “milk” them, that was weird to learn. The liquid is called “honeydew.”

Mercy at a pop-punk music festival.