January 24, 2005
In Which Pooh Bear Makes The Training Exercise His Bitch
We had one of those special Training Exercises at work today, where you're supposed to learn an Object Lesson in Cooperation and Teamwork or somesuch froo-frah. You know, the kind that HR people just love to throw at you during Corporate Retreats at the Outly Bound Cooperation Course, only we were inside and didn't have a spare tire to get up on a 20-foot pole.
It started when Dave, our trainer, dragged the heavy conference table into the center of the room. "Okay, everybody," he said, "Gather around the table, it's time for a game!" My first reaction was oh god, please, no, not another freakin' trustfall. There was no way we could do trustfalls. There was no way they'd let the temps in the class do trustfalls. There was no way they could even consider themselves even remotely liable for trustfalls.
It wasn't a trustfall.
Dave had us, as a group of 12, pick the conference table up and hold it up. "Keep the table up, guys!" he said. "Now that the game has started, you can't let the feet touch the floor!"
The premise of the "game" was simple enough. Dave would ask someone in the group a job-related question. If they got it right, they were allowed to let go of the table and sit back down. As you can very well guess, after a few people had gotten right answers and been allowed to split, each person left standing has to take on more and more of the table weight, and we're shifting ourselves around after every correct answer (each correctly answered by a TABLE-SHIRKING BASTARD) so as to make sure the weight is evenly distributed and whatnot. You can pretty much tell the object lessons learned here, about unfairly forcing others to take up the slack when you yourself slack off, about having to shift resources around to carry the entire workload when someone unfairly forces you to take up the slack by slacking off, and to be careful, when putting your hand under a table, to make sure nobody's stuck gum up under there first.
All three of these lessons were learned this evening.
It comes as no surprise that, by the end of the game, the two people left holding the table are me and Reggie. Not only are we the only men in the class, we're also the only people over five-six. Reggie finally gets a question and he gets it right, and it seems pretty clear I'm gonna be the one left holding the, er, table, as it were.
Afterwards, Dave told me he hadn't intended on letting me try to hold the table all by myself. He was going to call everybody back up again to hoist the table so we could all see how triumphant we are as a team or something. But that ending sucks. My ending was much better. Because while Dave is a cool guy and he's smart and all, I am smarter because I am MR CAPTAIN OF THE INTERNET MANS and I also once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. As Reggie's about to drop his end of the table and run back to his seat, I implore him to just keep holding it a bit longer. He does.
"Dave?" I ask. "We gotta make sure the table feet never touch the ground, right?"
"Yep," Dave says. "That's the rule."
"Okay, Reggie, would you help me flip this table over?"
We neatly flip the table over in mid-air and let it land, face-down. All four feet of the table stick straight up in the air.
The class applauds. I take my seat, smiling smugly in the face of all teamwork exercise thinker-uppers everywhere.
Life is good.