Monday, August 14, 2006

the exact moment my spirit was broken

I think there are cultural events that should change the way we live our lives. To point out a very obvious and well-tread example, Hitler pretty much ruined the half-stache. There was a time in the mid-30's where all the fanboys were wearing the half-stache and all the ladies were wooing over the newly popular facial-hair option. But then, the whole Hitler thing happened and he effectively removed (forever hopefully) the half-stache from the facial-hair lexicon.

Such events occur from time-to-time and it's important that we, as a society, recognize and embrace them. For office peoples everywhere, Office Space is one of those events. Office Space is such a dead-on parody of the daily office life that society should make an effort to avoid imitating it. I've always thought this was an implicit life-lesson - instruction of the type we are genetically encoded to assimilate and practice. Certain people in my office seem to have been encoded differently.

An office "picnic" was planned. I quote the word because the "picnic" was held in a conference room. Fair enough. I work in a building downtown. While the cafeteria may have been a more choice location, they went with the conference room - fine. I had already decided I wasn't going to attend this charade of a picnic when my boss came over and made a very touching and heartfelt plea for me to attend. I informed her that I was already headed elsewhere for lunch (i.e. picnic time) and she said that was fine that I could go to the picnic after I got back from lunch. I am incapable of passing on two lunches in one day, so I agreed.

By picnic time, I had recruited a couple of office buddies to attend (using the same heartfelt pleading) and we arrived ready to picnic something fierce. We were given nametages - ok, suspicious, but ok - and a paper card. Then they got Initech on our asses. The nametag had as its background one ingredient of a salad (lettuce, cheese, dressing, tomatoes, etc.). The card contained ALL the ingredients with a line for "Name" and "Fun Fact" next to each. To be eligible for the raffle (prizes, as yet, undisclosed), you had to find one person for each "ingredient" on your card and have them fill-out the name/fun fact for their nametag ingredient. You're not confused; it is as stupid as it sounds.

A helpful person then explained the point of the exercise (encouraging your workers to act like 8-year-olds?) and honestly, I thought she was auditioning for Office Space. She very earnestly (and chipperly) extolled the team-building skills I had exercised by reading nametags and saying, "Hey, will you sign this for me?" I thought it MUST have been a joke. Despite the fact that the preceding 20 minutes of my life could have been spliced into Office Space with no one being the wiser, it was no joke. It was my real-life existence as Michael Bolton.

Despite my best efforts, I didn't win the USB keychain drive that was eventually raffled off. But since a bunch of executive were present, I did witness a virtual how-to on tossing salad. But I did learn how to make new friends. :)

(Incidentally, I was a tomato and my "fun fact" was, "I hate tomatoes." I am must be a hoot to work with.)


Blogger NewYorkMoments said...

"Hitler pretty much ruined the half-stache."

I'm still laughing.

By the way, HR people love to make people play stupid games like the one you described. That's because most HR professionals are passive aggressive.

7:16 PM

Blogger djn said...

So basically, the food name tag was your flair?

3:51 PM

Blogger Nukie said...

I wondered why HR people always made the quiet people play "let's talk about yourself" games.

7:00 PM

Blogger NewYorkMoments said...

Have I mentioned that I work in HR?

8:33 AM


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