0ffice Retreat

At my fabulous job, I have a spiffy title, which says I'm an Administrative Assistant (re: girl who makes coffee) in a school of higher education. However, all that means is that I get to lug around a lot of heavy 3-ring binders (binders, where would America be without them?) with a lot of medical terminology inside that I don't understand. When students who are generally much younger than me come in to the 0ffice, I spend a lot of time getting exasperated by stupid questions such as "What is the patient number for patient number 003?" and "If this patient is deceased, why didn't he come for his appointment the other day?" Finally, nurses far more qualified than I occasionally sneer at me when I feebly attempt to figure out the doctor notes that have been scribbled into some patient's chart. They know that Dr. Bhalalalhalala wrote his notes in Arabic, but I just foolishly assume he's got really bad handwriting.

Yesterday at work, we were required to attend a team-building exercise/retreat type of event. Now I absolutely hate work-sponsored parties/events. You are forced to interact with fellow co-workers who secretly (or openly) disdain every aspect of your existence. Phaugh! I didn't fall for it for a moment. Add spouses and dates to the picture, mix together different departments, and you have a recipe for boredom at best, and disaster at worst.

Ah, but this was different. No food, no drinks, no family members, just a chance for us to bond as a team. Oh dear lord. I was forced straight sober to interact with fellow co-workers. We all sat around, while various people more important than us give little talks about how great it is that there's such a strong sense of community spirit at work. Phaugh again! Still not falling for it, not for a moment.

It was an attempt for us to "all get on the same page" and to participate in "team building exercises" through which we would be able to learn valuable lessons about teamwork, project management, and of course making complete and total asses of ourselves. We were split into teams and given lists of things to do.

What kinds of things, Kimberly? Tell me more, Iím riveted by your magical story.

Exercise 1:

We were all given our very own egg which we had to walk around holding on a spoon. Why? Sadly, that is a question I could not answer. All I know is that I had an egg, it was 90 degrees and I needed to find a new job.

Exercise 2:

We all drew the name of an animal out of a hat and had to put on blindfolds. You donít like where this is going? Well I had to live through it, so deal. If this was not bad enough, we had to make the noise of the animal and try and guess what the animal was. Wow, this totally did make me feel like a part of a team, a team of big fat losers. My animal was a lion, however, I didnít feel much like roaring or growling or what have you, so I chose to abstain. The facilitator tried to explain the importance of this activity to me and told me that I should be more mature. Pshhh, he wishes.

Exercise 3:

There was a carpet with squares, some of which buzzed when you stepped on them. You had to get your team across without speaking. In the end, after endless gestures and signs and attempts to not make the rug buzz, I just wanted to kill the other people on my team. We started making obscene gestures. Did I mention we are all being forced to wear matching t-shirts? Are you jealous yet? If you are, youíre an even bigger loser than I thought. Our team was disqualified when Brian shouted out, ďPut your feet on the blue squares, you fucking brain dead morons!Ē Brian is told that that type of behavior is not conducive to team building. Brian works in the IT department, therefore his behavior is not conducive to anything unless possibly one of the exercises involves watching Star Trek reruns.

Exercise 4:

We participated in Egg Drop. It involved dropping an egg we had carried around earlier off the roof. Gee, and after I had gotten so attached to my little egg. It was horrible. The exercise was to build a device so that our team's eggs would survive the fall. Much arguing ensued over the best way to wrap the egg. Sadly, our egg broke. This was due largely to the fact that we were the slacker team and our apparatus involved 30 yards of toilet paper and some Scotch tape. I was traumatized - I guess no omelet for dinner.

Exercise 5:

Trust Building. Canít get through a retreat without this one, now can you? We formed a circle, someone was blindfolded again (these retreat people have a dark side) stood up on a chair, and leaned back as we all caught the person and passed them around in a circle. Donít think Iím serious? I am totally serious, serious like a bath. We agreed as a team that the facilitator was an evil troll and must be destroyed. Hey, look at that, weíre working as a team! Even crazy Brian wants to hurt the facilitator.

Exercises 6-Eternity

Thereís more, but I donít think I can bring myself to relive it right now. Group sing-along, anyone? How about a human sculpture project where team members pose one another in symbolic stances? Or perhaps the scavenger hunt. Did I mention the vision hike? It involved that ever present-blindfold.

Bonding with coworkers should be confined to getting smashed together after hours and indiscreet gropings in the coat check area at annual 0ffice Christmas parties. Of course, thatís just my opinion.

Whatever. Drink more. I only get wittier.

2002-07-18 at 8:48 a.m.