How to Survive Team-building

I was never sure what the point of team-building was until the other day, when one of my co-workers explained logically and succinctly: “The point of team-building is make you feel as ridiculous as possible in order to form a common bond.” Sort of like hostage situations, or torture. Or, perhaps, exactly like torture. At any rate, I will now go over five simple steps to help you survive any team-building situations you may be likely to encounter. I’m like Mother Theresa over here. Somebody get me some good karma. Now.

STEP ONE: Take Pictures for Facebook

If there is one thing I know, it is that people LOVE to see pictures on Facebook. I have included some examples of pictures I posted so you can get a feel for what people would like to see.

Usually on Facebook, people enjoy seeing scenery from your environment. These environmental images usually include vacation photos of exotic places, or a picture of some fish you caught. However, when you are at work doing work stuff, that isn’t very practical. In my situation, I was taking a chartered bus to a team-building, so naturally I took at picture of the bus-seat upholstery.

Okay, I know that doesn’t seem astounding in and of itself, and I have to admit that it wasn’t until later that I realized they upholstered the CEILING with the very same fabric. Now THAT is impressive.

My next photo in the series of bus-upholstery photography.

Then I realized that photo really didn’t do justice to the whole scope of the bus upholstery ceiling, so I took another one.

This was a much better shot.

If there is anything the people of Facebook adore more than pictures from your environment, it is information regarding what you are currently eating or drinking. As fate would have it, we were served lunch almost immediately upon arrival to the teambuilding exercise. Therefore, this was my next brilliant Facebook post.

My Lunch

These people LOVE me.

STEP TWO: Find a Sarcasm Buddy

To find a sarcasm buddy, look for people rolling their eyes or looking generally miserable. Do NOT look for people who dance over enthusiastically when it is suggested that people go around the room and dance. Those people will NEVER be sarcastic with you. Also, please stay as far away from the dancing people as possible for your own safety. Trust me on this one.

Once you find your sarcasm buddy, you can never separate. Even if the ‘coaches’ (feel free to substitute the term sadist) at the team-building say that you can’t partner up with the same person, you have to totally ignore this. You never know when they are going to divide you into teams. For example, at one point, the ‘coaches’ yelled out for everyone to divide into groups of seven people by putting their fingers on the back of someone’s knee.*

It was incredibly awkward…mostly because I am extremely monogamous about letting people put their fingers on the back of my knee.

You never think you will need a shirt like this one until it is too late.

THEN… THAT, the scene with all the knee-touching, THAT was our team. If I hadn’t stood resolutely by my sarcasm buddy throughout this whole thing, I would be stuck on a team with this guy who was way too over-eager to put his damn finger on my knee. No one needs that.

But, don’t take my word on the importance of hyper-vigilance regarding team divisions. pictou ‏@pictou totally agrees with me, advising, “Watch out when they sort you into teams–it’s the divide and conquer theory.”

And believe me… you do NOT want to be conquered. Unless it means you can go home. But, alas, it doesn’t. Nothing can get you home short of purposefully wetting your pants. My sarcasm buddy and I actually spent some time discussing the merits of pants wetting, but unfortunately, I took the damn bus and therefore still needed a ride back. No one wants to sit next to the pants wetter. Probably not even if you explain it was on purpose.

STEP THREE: Make Twitter Comments

General comments fare a little better than overly specific ones. My statement of “I’m in hell” got several nice reactions.

Pooka’s Crayon ‏@LargoHaikuNook discussed the financial merits of being in hell, stating, “Get autographs, if you can. They’ll go for a fortune on Ebay.”

Cara ‏@zippy219 was evidently in hell too on that day: ” I don’t see you! Are you sure you’re here? Wave or something so I can see you.”

Hell is a large and crowded place… probably because of all the damned.

Andreas Heinakroon@heinakroon, always the gentleman, offered his condolences, “I’m sorry to hear that. Say hi to Satan from me.”

Debbie ‏@debihen said, “My regards to Beelzebub and his minions.” She also advised me to run if they suddenly started handing out Kool-Aid.

Just be aware that if you make your comments too specific as to the actual activities at hand, it could be a little confusing.

For example, when my sarcasm buddy said, “I’m all for teamwork, but I’m not laying on the ground putting on a weird suit.” I had to Tweet that IMMEDIATELY. You never know if you are going to remember comments later, and this one was GOLD. Unfortunately, while I was right in the middle of typing my tweet, it was suddenly MY turn to drive the damn bike. This is where having a sarcasm buddy really comes in handy. My sarcasm buddy took me by the arm and guided me over to the bicycle/cult-suit-changing area WHILE I typed Twitter statements into my phone. Now THAT is teamwork!

Anyway, my point is that not many people got what I was talking about with the suit.

Gigi ‏@gigirambles inquired, “What the hell kind of team training are you at?!”

Rod Jordan ‏@AIRIGOAGAIN, who never lets the fact he has no idea what I am saying get in the way of offering sage advice, posted, “Just say “There’s no I in team, so I’M not laying on the the ground!”

Granted, I agree my statement was a little confusing. Allow me to explain myself in this next section. It won’t help alleviate any confusion, but at least I can say I tried.

STEP FOUR: Never wear the suit

As part of our team-building efforts, we had to race these bikes we put together, which was already a bad idea because our bike was trailing nuts and bolts and my sarcasm buddy and I were secretly hoping for the wheels and stuff to start flying off. But, the worst part is that the ‘coaches’ made you wear this ridiculous suit when you rode the bike.

Here is my sarcasm buddy holding up the suit.

Most of you probably already know what it is like to feel normal, but I spend most of my life glancing around at people thinking, ‘Are we really going to go for this?’ and then, sure enough, everyone is Zumba-ing the Macarena, or crossing minefields in blindfolds (see next section), or doing some dance where a guy keeps singing at you to go “to the right. To the right.”

When people brought up the idea we would all be changing in and out of this suit, my sarcasm buddy promptly stated, “I have OCD and I am NOT wearing that suit.” OCD is nice to have in a sarcasm buddy, because they are going to freak out at the stuff you are being asked to do way before you even think about objecting. In comparison, you get to seem like you are normal and willing to go along with crap. It is a nice feeling to have another person recognize the insanity well ahead of you.

STEP FIVE: Cheat

After the dancing and the knee touching, the ‘coaches’ made us wear blindfolds** and go through this ‘minefield’ of Frisbees and squeaky toys to get the bike parts. My sarcasm buddy and I decided that we would totally peek through the blindfold while yelling convincing directions like, “to the right. To the right”***, and “at an angle.”

Bear giving directions on how to cross the minefield.

Here is “Bear” (not entirely sure that is his given name) explaining that we are wearing the blindfolds because we are drunk (I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was to be told we would be getting drunk and then being handed a blindfold) and that if you commit a crime when you are drunk it doesn’t count. Seriously, this is something they said. Apparently, being drunk makes you completely unaccountable for your actions. Don’t even get me started on the ramifications of applying this logic in real life.

Note that the minefield consists of Frisbees, mangled pool noodles, and squeaky toys. This is probably how we lost Vietnam.

This is the tire I brought back across the minefield while drunk on blindfolds.

At the end of this exercise, we still had the steering wheel and the brake left across the minefield. Our team was fairly confident we could carry on through the race without these two items, but then Bear just freaking GAVE them to us. Which both pissed me off  and leads us to the most important lesson of teambuilding: “Never let people make you cross minefields in a blindfold for car parts they are going to hand you anyway.”

I know you think you don’t need this shirt, but you do. You should buy three of them.

Remember that. It will serve you well.

Oh… I did forget one last picture.

This was my favorite part of the entire experience.

Side notes:

* You are probably thinking this is kinky shit I am making up, but I am DEAD serious when I tell you that this happened… in real life. I should make a documentary.

**again, I know you think is some kinky shit I am making up, but I cannot reiterate enough how all of this REALLY HAPPENED.

***see… NOW I know what that damn song was all about.

Milkshakes from the Past

You are probably thinking this is going to be one of those posts where I spend the whole time expounding on some trivial thing in life that actually took only about 20 seconds in real time, but now I am going to force you to spend 8 to 10 minutes reading about it. You are right.

Yesterday, I took my kid to McDonald’s for breakfast because we were out of bacon. And eggs. And toast. I tried to get him to eat oatmeal cookies for breakfast because of the oatmeal content, but he seemed to think that cookies were not a proper breakfast. Sometimes I don’t know what is wrong with that kid.

After we agreed that we would go to McDonald’s to get him a McGriddle, I glanced at the clock. It was 10:07. McGriddle service ends at that place at 10:30 sharp. “Don’t worry Mom,” my child says, “I’ll go get dressed.” (It is the week after Christmas, my kid is out of school, and yes, we have been in our pajamas all morning playing games on his new Wii. Don’t judge me. We will read a book later. Maybe.)

While I locate car keys, my seven-year-old proceeds to go into his room and pull out the most ridiculous match up of clothing I have ever seen. I usually set his clothes out for him to avoid this. Apparently, seven-year-olds think you can pull any random pants and shirt items from a drawer, and put them on without any planning or foresight. It always ends badly. However, the countdown had started, and there was no time to argue. We got in the car and arrived at McDonalds at 10:22. My kid tells me he wants a McGriddle with milk, then rushes off to go find a table.

Ordering at fast food restaurants is extremely difficult, even without the time pressure. There is a line behind you, waiting for you to order. There is a person in front of you, expecting you to order. You have to be extremely precise in your communication with this person in order for you to receive the food you are expecting. Then there is the menu itself, a glaring panorama with brightly lit pictures of food and numbers and drinks.

I have to remember my kids order, and mine. Then somehow communicate all this to a person with the clock ticking down to 10:30. It is a high-pressure situation.

There is one person ahead of me in line. I am trying to pay attention so I will see when they are finished ordering and move up. At the same time I am looking at the McGriddle pictures perplexed as to why they put cheese on them. Then I am trying to figure out if they come with milk. My kid asked for milk, but milk is only listed on the kid’s menu. There is no breakfast kid menu. Maybe I’ll just order it with milk to see what happens. How is the number seven different from the number six? Oh god, one has sausage and one has bacon. Which one did he want??

You can see that I have a lot going on inside my head. This is when I hear a voice behind me saying, “Are you interested in a free milkshake?” I turn to find an attractive looking guy standing behind me. At a McDonald’s, I know. It is hard to believe.

When I see attractive people, I always assume they are selling something. Probably because all the attractive, well-dressed people at my office are in sales. So, here is this guy with the Ashton Kutcher hair asking me about a milkshake. I give him my very best I’m-not-interested-in-signing-up-for-a-damn-credit-card-or-changing-my-electricity-provider glare. He shifts a bit, but continues, undaunted.

“You can get a free milkshake here. On November 25th.” He is obviously trying to communicate something with me by pointing to a hand-written sign on the counter that says “Get a free milkshake on November 25th” I consider the quickest way of ending this interaction and decide to pretend to be agreeable. Sometimes that works.

“Yes, I see that. Thanks.” I respond.

“On November 25th.” He repeats. The guy is not letting it go.

I continue with my tactic of being nice, but dismissive, “Yes, that’s great.” I tell him.

Finally, he decides I am never going to get it. “That is like a YEAR from now.” He blurts out. He now seems pleased with himself, but a little flustered at having to explain his own joke.

I missed it. He was being WITTY, and I missed it. I usually appreciate people being witty. But you just can’t spring it on me like that. I can’t be expected to deal with some kind of Ashton Kutcher look-alike in line at a McDonald’s trying to sell me a milkshake from the past while I am dealing with McGriddle deadlines.

This shirt will prevent unwanted offers of milkshakes from the past. You probably think this will not happen to you, but you can never be too careful.

So, to the good-looking guy in line behind me at McDonalds, sorry I didn’t get your witty banter. In all fairness, if you look like Ashton Kutcher, you shouldn’t even be in a McDonalds. This isn’t Beverly Hills. Go to a Chick-fil-A.

The good news is, that my kid and I had great time eating our McGriddles. He even demonstrated how he almost spit out his milk at school when his friend told him a joke one time. Morning accomplished.

How to Survive a Year

Well, we have made it through the holidays and it is time to start a brand new year. In order to assist you with upcoming activities and expectations, I have made you a month-by-month list of requirements. I am helpful that way.

January

New Year’s Day:

Welcome to the New Year everyone! If you manage to stay up until midnight, there will be paper hats, noisemakers, and champagne. New Year Resolutions will be made. Feel free to make as many resolutions as you wish as they can be ignored throughout the year.

Also, you will have put up a tree for Christmas that you should take down sometime this month.

February

You should definitely be ignoring your resolutions by now, so go ahead and cancel that gym membership. Also if you haven’t taken down that Christmas tree yet, you suck. Who cares if it was not your idea to put it up in the first place, take down the damn tree! Feel free to wad up all the lights carelessly as you won’t have to worry about them until next Christmas.

Valentine’s Day:

 You will be asked to address twenty valentine cards to the kids at your son’s school. You will have no idea who these kids are, just copy the names from the list the teacher gives you. Your kid will come home with exactly the same number of cards in his backpack, which you will then throw away. Don’t question the logic of this, just do it. There could be a romantic dinner in your future. Maybe flowers.

 March

Any flowers you got for Valentine’s Day will be dead. Find them and throw them out.

St. Patrick’s Day:

I’m not sure what day this is on, but you will need to remember to wear green. Wear green for the entire month just in case. Some people may ask you to meet them at an Irish pub for a pint and some corned beef. There could be green beer, which will seem like a good idea, but you should really go with a stout or an Irish red ale. They are much more authentic to the tradition than Bud Light with green food coloring.

April

April Fool’s Day:

Don’t believe anything anyone says. Pretend this is somehow different from every other day.

Easter:

Colored eggs, rabbits. Peeps. People dress up and go to church. If you are very unlucky, there will be hats. I’m pretty sure the whole Easter hat thing is dead, but as a general rule, you should avoid wearing fancy hats if at all possible.

May

Locate all the Peeps from Easter and throw them out. No one is ever going to eat them.

Mother’s Day:

Send your mom a card, and maybe some flowers. Stay out of any place serving brunch as these locations will be filled with women wearing corsages. A corsage is the dumbest thing ever. If anyone ever gives you one, you should immediately stab them with it.

June

Father’s Day:

This is not as big of a deal as Mother’s Day. Dads will take advantage of their right to sit on the couch and watch television. It is important to humor them by pretending that is not what they would be doing anyway. No one ever expects a dad to go to brunch wearing a corsage, which I find extremely unfair. You can’t tell me that people enjoy walking around with flowers pinned to their clothing. It is ridiculous.

July

Independence Day:

Your neighbor will invite you out to their place at the lake where he will make a speech about freedom, then try to kill everyone with fireworks. Make an excuse not to go.

August

If you are me, you live in Texas. August in Texas is an impossibly hot month. People will celebrate by taking pictures of their car thermostats with their phones to post to Facebook. I usually track these and send a notice to the winner. There is no prize for this contest, just bragging rights that you somehow did not get heat stroke from entering the roasting-oven environment of your car.

No one will feel like doing anything this month. You can’t even wear a corsage because the burning hot sun will strike it from the sky causing it to melt into your clothing. Which is why they won’t even sell you a corsage in August, probably.

September

School Starts:

In complete denial of the fact it is still freaking hot, stores will begin selling back to school clothes and jackets. Stores will also be selling lots of notebook paper, erasers, and crayons. If you are me, you will locate the most enormous box of Crayola crayons, then open it to smell the new crayon smell.

October

Halloween:

Stores will be selling costumes and scary zombie yard decorations. They will also begin putting up their Christmas displays. This is the perfect opportunity to go through each store adding skeletons to the baby Jesus manger scenes.

Decorate your house with spider webs and skulls. If you tend to have actual spider webs and skulls in your house, then win for you. Do nothing.

Carve a pumpkin into a face with crooked teeth. Save the seeds because you say you are going to roast them. Stock up on candy to hand out to kids. Pass out the candy. Take your kid around the neighborhood gather up candy. After all this effort, the amount of candy in your house will be exactly the same. Do not question the logic of this, just do it.

November

Take down the spider webs and skulls. Find a storage space for the scary yard zombies. The guest room closet is ideal. Turn your carved pumpkin so the crooked teeth face a wall. It is now a fall harvest display.

Thanksgiving:

School children will color Thanksgiving pilgrims and make turkeys by tracing the shape of their hand.

You may be asked to attend a formal dinner with extended family. If you are very unlucky, everyone will hold hands in a circle for what seems like eternity so that each individual can mushily announce whatever it is they are thankful for. No one will admit that is a form of torture. Try to think of something to say that isn’t too saccharine or embarrassing.

Following the awkward hand holding session will be a prayer, and finally, the ridiculously large dinner. You will watch the people who have been bitching about carbs all year long eat rolls, cornbread dressing, AND mashed potatoes…. at the same time. If you are lucky, there will be eight types of pie.

December

There is no excuse for that pumpkin now, and it is starting to smell. Throw it away. The seeds are probably in the back of the refrigerator somewhere. I’m sure you’ll get around to roasting them eventually.

Christmas:

You will put a tree in your living room and decorate it. It will not be providing shade. Don’t question the logic of this, just do it.

You will open the Christmas decorations stored from last year and wonder who the hell wadded up all the lights into a tangled mess. You could go out and buy new ones. Alternatively, you could spend the day untangling them and figuring out which of the bulbs on the damn thing is making all the other bulbs not light, then go out and buy new ones.

About mid-month, people will start asking if you are done with your Christmas shopping yet. Stores become overly crowded and at the same time start playing sappy, often religious-themed music over their public address systems. Twitter the names of these songs to your followers as you stand in line. Misery is best when shared with friends.

You struggle to wrap things that are oddly shaped, then your family comes over and gifts are exchanged. You will receive a few awesome unexpected things, one thing you didn’t know you needed, and some really dumb things you have no use for. Your trash/recycle bin will be obscenely full with paper and cardboard boxes on the very week no one shows to pick it up.

Congratulations!

And then, like magic, you are done. You made it. Congratulations to you!  Now… start over at January and repeat for the rest of your life. Don’t question the logic of this, just do it.

Rapture Preparation

Is it just me, or is this Rapture Apocalypse not as good as the last one? I was shocked when @mylifelyrics sent out a reminder earlier this week that we had a Rapture scheduled for Friday, October 21, 2011. Why did I not hear about this sooner? The last Rapture Apocalypse was hyped up for months. I haven’t even seen any billboards for this one.

A good Rapture is like a movie, we need propaganda and previews, something to build the suspense. You’d think, given the feeble effort in promoting this Rapture that everyone had already spent all their money on billboards for the other Rapture. I found out today that no one has even scheduled a time! This is not how you run a Rapture, people! At the rate you are going, there might not even BE a Rapture.
The Naysayers: You are the problem with a good Rapture Apocalypse.

I find it disappointing that some of you show a certain lack of enthusiasm for Rapture related activities. @debihen states “The Rapture and killing crazed dictators have all been done before people. Do we not have ANY original thinkers out there?” Well, @debihen, the answer is NO. We will keep having Raptures until Zombie Apocalypse happens, so you might as well get used to it. However, we may be out of dictators to kill. I’m not sure.

Some of you aren’t even going to the Rapture! For example, @daralynnieloo says, “I’m not going because I’m sure there’s gonna be a ton of republicans and super Christians there.” You are right, @daralynnieloo, the place will likely be littered with them. Do you think the super-Christians will be getting capes? I wonder if it is too late to transfer over to that group.

@lahikmajoe is not helping matters. He is probably worried there is no loose-leaf tea in the afterlife.  He seems to think that the “last rapture really was the one to be remembered, wasn’t it? This one’s supposed to stay quite. Keep it down will you?” No, @lahikmajoe, I will NOT keep it down. A quiet Rapture is a boring one. Are we all just supposed to sit around while people are naked skydiving and demons are running around? I don’t think so. Oh, you haven’t heard about the naked skydiving option?

In case you are unaware, @larwe will be “skydiving naked during the rapture so the ascending ones will think I’m going with them and have second thoughts.” See people, THIS is how you do a Rapture. Thank you, @larwe for embracing the spirit of the occasion. To show my appreciation, I made you and anyone who would like to join you in naked skydiving, a free t-shirt.

Yes, I realize that making this shirt was a complete waste of time. Thanks.

As if I don’t have enough to deal with, @heinakroon is on the verge of ruining everything, “I didn’t want to say anything, but it’s my army of killer robots helping me to take over the world. Don’t worry and stay calm.” Great, @heinakroon, I am having enough trouble generating excitement for this month’s Apocalypse already. I don’t need you sending out killer robots to distract everyone. You need to get these things on the calendar in advance. How’s February for you?
Of all the naysayers, @IbecameMyDadis the worst of them, suggesting the whole thing is the result of old pipes, “I think you’ve been misled; this time around it’s the “Rupture.” It’s just a plumbing issue. Get some boots and you’ll be fine.” He’s probably right, but I like to stay optimistic and think the end of the world is at hand. Plus, I just had the plumber out last week and I really don’t want to pay for another service call. So, let’s get ready for this thing.

Rapture Apocalypse Dress Code: No, we are not going naked (except for @larwe, obviously)

Since the day of Rapture Apocalypse is at hand, I will at least help everyone with the dress code. Some of you, like @rebecca_ods, are not satisfied with just dashing off into the sky naked. “I need more info! Once again I have no idea how to dress! Should I sleep in my clothes just in case?”  Rapture Apocalypse is, after all, a special occasion, and some of us would like to be able to dress for it. Also, I am on the same page with @BanterBurbia, “if that means I have to spend my last day on earth shaving, I’m out.”

@jbrown3079 definitively stated that the dress code for the upcoming Rapture will be “Disaster Casual.” But just what is Disaster Casual? Let’s consider our options.

@_viouslymaggie suggests, “Dress for Halloween in case we don’t make it. Also, it will be easier to sort the saint and sinners that way.” This is a terrible idea by the way. I have only had the chance to blog about two of my Halloween costume suggestions. Three if you count the meth lab t-shirt. Everyone is going to be wearing shirts about being drug addicts, serial killers, and having meth labs. There is no way Jesus is going to let someone past the gates wearing a meth lab shirt. Sorry @_viouslymaggie, nice try but we will NOT be wearing our Halloween costumes.

@daralynnieloo will be wearing “my new slippers, new jeans, favorite t-shirt, my new pea coat and scarf. Don’t wanna miss out on getting to wear the new stuff.” There is nothing worse than buying a new pea coat and never getting a chance to wear it because of Rapture Apocalypse.

@debihen is going with “flowing robes and pipe cleaner halo.” She suggests you “check the Halloween dept for wings. That ought to be appropriate.” Can you bring some extra pipe cleaners, @debihen? I don’t have time to go to the craft store, and I really want to get in. I have some questions I want to ask God.

@me_mumstheword says pajamas, “my favorite attire for all important events,” are the way to go. Pajama attire also solves @rebecca_ods’ dilemma of whether to sleep in your Apocalyptic attire. Two birds, one stone. Well done, @me_mumstheword. Except, you probably shouldn’t be throwing rocks at birds.

So, do you hear that, Rapture Planning committee? “Disaster Casual” is any recently purchased clothing, wings, pipe cleaner halos, and pajamas. Write that down.

Packing for the Afterlife

Another little known fact about Rapture Apocalypse is that you can pack a bag. You are allowed one carry-on item of any size. A hand basket is a nice choice, in case you end up going to hell in it later. It is always more convenient to go to hell in your own hand basket. A trip to hell couldn’t be that much worse than a shopping experience at your local Wal-mart. Just pack whatever xanax and wine you would ordinarily take for that type of outing.
Have a Nice Apocalypse

So, when you see @larwe skydiving naked with a pipecleaner halo, you will know the big day has arrived. If you see killer robots, then @heinakroon has ruined everything.

Happy Rapture everyone!

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