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"It's about establishing and reinforcing staff relationships. Relationships that create a friendly, trusting and balanced work environment."

Surprising as it may seem, I am not a huge fan of time spent with co-workers. Mainly because it usually means being at work and I am a huge fan of not being at work. When I do attend, I spend the whole day coming up with an excuse not to be there the next day so really it is just time that would be better spent on a hobby or something.
Occasionally, I am expected to spend time with co-workers outside of office hours. Last year, it was three days on a houseboat stuck on a sandbar. The year before that, Thomas organised a camping trip to a lake he had visited when he was a child. After purchasing kayaks and tents, renting a trailer and driving for eight hours, we arrived to find the town abandoned, due to the lake drying up several years prior, so we drove back. I did get to poke a lizard with a stick though, so it was not a complete waste of time.


From: Thomas
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 9.06am
To: All Staff
Subject: Staff weekend

Shannon and I had a meeting on Friday to discuss doing one of those staff team building weekends. It's tax deductible and we can get a package deal with one near the river that looks nice with activities like yoga, canoeing, talent night, hiking and orienteering. It's 3 hours drive so if we leave Friday lunch time, we will get there by 4pm. The plan is to lock in the 25th to the 27th of this month so can everyone check their diaries and get back to me please?
TJ
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 9.34am
To: Thomas
Subject: Re: Staff weekend

Dear Thomas,
Although I am usually the first to embrace any excuse for absence from the workplace, my absence usually involves a direct correlation to the absence of people I work with. Spending several hours in a vehicle to participate in activities that involve being sweaty, wet, judged and then lost together, sounds pretty much the same as a normal week in the office. Will we be paid to attend?
Also, what is the difference between hiking and orienteering?
Regards, David.
From: Thomas
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 10.04am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Staff weekend

One is where you walk around and look at things and the other is where you have a compass. I don't know, google it. It isn't what the activities are, its that we do them together as a team. I knew you would be the first one to complain about this. Everybody else had a good time last year on the houseboat.
TJ
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 11.22am
To: Thomas
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

Dear Thomas,
When did I indicate that I had anything other than a fabulous time aboard the houseboat last year? I am the last to complain about anything. If I were on a television game show where points were awarded for complaining, my only complaint would be participating in a show that is clearly beyond my means of winning. At the end of the show, I would thank the host and say I had a wonderful time anyway.
My favourite part of the houseboat trip was when we were stuck on a sandbar for three days. Unable to radio for help due to your hair dryer usage draining the reserve batteries, you claimed yourself Captain and ordered me to swim ashore in search of a tall hill to climb with the hope of gaining mobile phone reception. It is not mutiny if the Captain cannot provide sufficient evidence to support his title, and besides, you refused to accept my title of Grand Admiral Emperor King of Everything the next day. My second favourite part of the trip was when you drank our entire week's alcohol supply on the first afternoon, fell from the bow, and yelled at me for not diving in to rescue you. In my defence, I was wearing new shoes and did give the area a quick visual check for anything of sufficient buoyancy to cast to you. Failing to locate a jumping castle, I felt the next best thing would be the ability to later provide an accurate eye-witness account. I would have left out the bits where you screamed, "Something touched my leg" and "Not like this. Not like this."
Just this morning I was sitting here thinking, while nodding randomly to portray interest in Shannon's dilemma regarding missing Farmville credits and watching Lucius pick his nose and wipe it under his desk, that the one thing missing in my life is a greater percentage of time spent with these people.
If I take a compass with me on the hike does that mean I can skip the orienteering? This would leave me with only yoga, canoeing and talent night to avoid participating in.
Regards, David.
From: Thomas
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 11.46am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

I wasn't 3 days. It was less than six hours and when I went into the water you didn't even get out of your chair. You threw a coke can at me and told me to hold on to it so don't pretend you tried to help. What's the point of you even going this year if you are not going to participate in the TEAM activities??
TJ
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 1.09pm
To: Thomas
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

Dear Thomas,
My point exactly. I knew you would understand. It might be interesting to see what talents the staff comes up with for talent night though. I have been here for years and haven't seen any. You and I could team up and present a re-enactment of last week's client presentation. I will play the female client and you can demonstrate the importance of remembering to do up your fly if you forego underpants. We could do a puppet show. All we would need is one those floppy skinned pug dogs peeking through a set of curtains while wearing a rusty-brown Brillo® pad collar.
Yoga is out of the question. Seeing the staff clad in Spandex, kicking and rolling around on the floor like a pod of neon walruses engaged in a territorial dispute, is not only something that once seen cannot be unseen, but is also quite possibly a breach of Occupational Health & Safety regulations. I don't care if there is a funky dance beat. I am fine with canoeing though. As long as I can sit in the back and pretend to paddle only when the person in the front turns around to complain about me not paddling; it might be a nice break from avoiding activities. If it is one of those little single-person kayaks, my non-paddling will have the added benefit of failing to keep up with the group. As you all pass around a bend in the river, I will have the opportunity, should I wish to take it after our day together, to roll the kayak and drown.
Also, what are the sleeping arrangements? I won't share with Lucius again after the last interstate client meeting. I was unable to sleep due to his controlled breathing and rustling. It was around 3am before I realised why he had placed the mini hair-conditioner bottle from the hotel bathroom on his side table and what the clicking and squeezing sounds were.
I have attached a diagram indicating proposed travel, sleeping and activity arrangements. I am A, everyone else is B, and C is a lockable door. Will we be paid to attend?
Regards, David.


From: Thomas
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 1.18pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

People don't wear spandex doing yoga, you're thinking of jazzercise. As a member of the team you are expected to be there and participate in ALL the activities. It's about the team spending time together outside of work establishing and reinforcing staff relationships. Relationships that create a friendly, trusting and balanced work environment.
TJ
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 1.46pm
To: Thomas
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

Dear Thomas,
By a surprising coincidence, best described as "hardly a", that is the exact text the staff training website has on its front page. Your engagement with this appropriated copy is particularly surprising as it is the same rhetoric we write everyday for clients.
I personally have no desire whatsoever to work in a balanced environment. A coordinated procedure of constant correction would be required and I doubt anybody here has practical fulcrum experience. If someone picked up a stapler from one side of the office, it would need to be replaced with something of equal weight. Probably a calculator and two pens. When you leave for lunch each day, we would have to place something in your chair for three hours and be able to shift it on your return. A system involving rope, pulleys and a mule would probably need to be devised. I hope you have thought this through as it sounds like a lot of team effort and that is the last thing any of us want around here.
Also, will we be paid to attend?
Regards, David.

From: Thomas
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 2.03pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Staff weekend

You don't get paid to go on a staff weekend trip. It's like a bonus. It costs us money to do it. What a stupid question. Not counting food and travel, it is $3200 just to stay there and Shannon has budgeted another $500 for alcohol. If you are going to spend the entire trip being annoying just don't go.
TJ
From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 2.26pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Hey

Hi,
Are you coming to the staff weekend event on the 25th? I am booking it today.
Thanks Shan.
From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 2.41pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Hey

Count me in Shannon. I for one am excited about the opportunity to spend the weekend together establishing and reinforcing staff relationships. Relationships that create a friendly, trusting and balanced work environment. On talent night, I am going to be a sexy space pirate. What are you going as?
From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 17 May 2010 2.53pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Hey

I don't know yet. Probably a magic trick or something.


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