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that one time on team Build

February 5, 2007

a year ago all the team leaders in my store went on a team build.

for those of you blessedly unfamiliar with this corporate tree-huggery, a team build is an event where a group that works closely together goes out and does stuff as a team. it can be lame (wherein one poor sod gets blindfolded and has to trust the rest of the group not to f*ck with him); or it can be cool (wherein folk eat and drink on the company’s tab and have an all around good time despite the fact that you would never hang out with these people on your own dime).

our team build was something of a combination of these two. we went up to the mountains for two days, hired a ‘facilitator’ (an outside life-coach type of dude who acts as a neutral party and keeps everyone on track), watched movies, drank an obscene amount of alcohol, and set goals for ourselves.

there were some cool games involved wherein we had to work as a team to accomplish a task. one can put up with a certain amount of this sort of schlupt for a boatload of free booze, filet mignon, and lobster (especially when my boss bought all my booze from my department at full price, so i also got credit for the sale).

but then comes the end of the weekend. one last excercize before we hit the road.

now, our facilitator is a top-ranked professional. he handles major corporations and major league ball clubs, etc. he called several of us before the event and asked us what we wanted out of it. i was one of the ones called. my only request :: leave out the actual physical touchy-feely stuff.

so, of course, to end it all and ‘prove’ that we have given ourselves in complete trust to the team, we are each to stand on the edge of a picnic table and fall backwards into the arms of our comrades, lined up six deep, two to a side (total of twelve people) arms interlocked, waiting to catch us each as we fall.

i’m a big guy, so when i don’t want to do it (and the facilitator told us all that no one would be forced to do it), it was assumed that i was afraid they would drop me or something.

it’s three feet off the ground. with twelve people breaking my fall, even if they drop me how bad is it going to be? i refused. and i wasn’t the only one who wanted to refuse. the others who tried to refuse were told they at least had to let the group ‘lift them up’ (ie gather around them and physically pick them up off the ground) to show their trust of the group. they didn’t want to do this either, so they opted to fall off the table.

i still refused.

what i don’t get is this. how does this guy who facilitates all sorts of pc/human resources type events, handles major harrassment seminars, and commands upwards of $5,000 a day for his services not get that some people just don’t like to be touched!

i have never tolerated casual touch. my biggest problem with the baptist church even as a kid was their insistence on shaking everyone’s hands. don’t get me wrong; i’m no cold fish. one on one with someone i love and trust…well, any claim i make here is going to fall into the TMI category, so let your imagination carry you as far as you can tolerate and park the boat there.

seriously, i hug my kids, i tickle my daughters, i wrestle with my son. my brother in law gets a clap on the back, mom gets a kiss on the cheek. my wife gets whatever she wants…

within my circle of intimacy i am intimate. outside of it, i’m that obnoxious guy who is just as likely to glance pointedly at your outstretched hand then back up at your face rather than shaking the proffered appendage.

*le sigh*

i miss the days when a job was just a job, when you did your work, spoke politely, and went home with your pay. now corporate america wants you to invite them home for tea…and share the hive mind.

*le shudder*

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