June 5, 2006

We’ve Got Class, Now Give Us Some Action

Posted in Lessons Learned at 8:08 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

In school, I never liked field day.  I couldn't climb a pole, I would get hit in the face during tetherball and the obstacle course was more like a death trap for someone as klutzy as I; the only activities I was kinda good at were those that involved running.  And by "kinda good" understand I was still all arms and legs, no coordination, so events like the shuttle run were disastrous.  Still, I am happy that the adult version of field day equates to the charitable 5k foot race.

Two weekends ago was the Philadelphia Bar Association's 5k in Fairmount Park.  Just like many of the early mornings on field day, the pre-race area was filled with clumps of individuals in matching t-shirts talking and stretching and drinking water. The only thing that was missing was a group of senior associates running around tormenting a group of first years.

Trying to blend in, myself and a member of my editorial committee stood by in our own matching t-shirts with our firm's logos emblazoned on the front, commenting on how much worse they could be.

"Oh god, at least we don't have to wear a really awful color like Barney purple."  She pointed to a group about fifteen feet away from where we were standing.

"Or a cheesy catch phrase," I pointed to another group that past us by.  This lead into a conversation about what sort of really cheesy slogans we could have on our shirt.  A personal favorite was "We've got class now give us some action."  We were both laughing hysterically at the idea of putting our actual firm's slogan across the  back, lower half of our t-shirts when a co-worker joined our group.

Field day differed from a regular day in gym class by one substantial factor – you didn't pick teams on field day; teams were randomly assigned either by grade or homeroom so inevitably there was someone on your team you didn't want, possibly several people.  Our co-worker stood there wearing the required t-shirt and running shorts and by this fact he was a part of our team.  It didn't matter that my friend and I spent the better part of our days in the office making fun of him.  Nor did it matter that he had never said more than six words to either of us.  Go Team.

It was the worst possible example of forced team building/bonding.  We didn't have anything to say to each other, so once we were past the required comments about the t-shirts we were left with awkwardness, but only for a minute.  Soon, other team members joined our mini group and discussion turned to the race.  Jokes were made about who was going to run worse than whom and finally we all lined up.

At the line, just before the race, our co-worker remained by our side, engaging us in conversation until just before the race started when he wished us luck and moved to the front of the pack.

My friend and I looked at each other in bewilderment.  We didn't have much time to discuss the sudden humanity of the co-worker we had come to despise, we didn't hear a gun go off but we noted everyone around us started running.

At the end of the run, our "evil" co-worker came up to us, complimented us on our run and even introduced us to his fiancé.  I hate to admit when I am wrong, so I'm not going to.  I will say that perhaps I judged this particular individual too quickly and seeing that I would hate to make that same mistake twice, the jury is still out.

I will say that there could be something to these team building/bonding activities; especially if you are a fan of free, ugly t-shirts. 

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