The Suck Bowl

So keeping in yesterday’s theme of work functions, I decided to share my least favorite work function of all time. The glass blowing team building event. Yep, an ALL day session with my co-workers at a glass studio in downtown Seattle.

This was masterminded by Michael, my ex-manager. I always referred to him as the Shairf (as in “There’s a new Shairf in town”), as he was a new hire to replace my favorite boss of all time, Paulette!

This man was famous for his fashion (or lack there of) sense.  He once came in sporting, and bragging about, his new electric (as in BRIGHT) salmon colored linen pants he got off the Sale shelf at Nordstroms!  I believe my first comment was “You PAID for those???”  To which he replied “These are designer pants!  And the only pair in Salmon!”  I tried to stop myself, but I couldn’t, it just came out “Pal, even salmon only wear that color on the INSIDE!”  Yeah we didn’t get along.

But because he was new, he wanted to build his team.  I recommended whirlyball!  Picture basket ball being played in the same bumper cars you ride in at a carnival!  it is a blast!  Or we could go to paintball!  But NOPE, glass blowing it was!

So, one morning the 20 of us meet at the glass blowers.  This is supposed to be a morning making items, then lunch.  We walked into the building, and of course, its HOT!!  You need molten glass to make it into stuff.  I hate hot places.  My wife says I sleep on ice (which I have when Mountain climbing) and wear shorts from March till November.  So a hot stuffy room makes me cranky (I am getting cranky just remembering this day!).

Now add to it, they are only set up for one person to make something at a time.  Each time took a minimum of 5 minutes, and we were supposed to make two items apiece.  So let’s do the math, if we get it going without pause, 5 x 20 is 100 minutes, x 2 items is 200 minutes, which is over 3 hours.  During this time I would only be actively doing something for 10 minutes!  This left plenty of “chat” time and “getting to know each other and the Shairf time.”

Folks, I know this sounds whiny, but I do NOT do well chatting, or just sitting.  I can sit and read a book, or write the blog, or even surf the web and play stupid iPod games for hours.  But doing that and ignoring people  in a social event is considered rude.   I was NOT a happy man….

So the two items we made were, a glass ball.  Which is easy as all you do is blow.  It expands to the size you want and its a decoration.  (Can we say clutter, mine was tossed the last time I moved)  And the suck bowl, where you make another glass ball and at the last-minute you suck in, making a bowl.  I kept that, at least it has a function.


So of course, with all the chatting, flubbed attempts, and delays, this took much longer that 3 hours to complete.  Food wasn’t going to be served until we are all done.  Michelle will tell you two things about me and food.  The first is I like to have lunch at or around 11 every day.  And when I am hungry I get CRANKY!

Well, we were all FINALLY done at 2 PM and 20 of us were shoehorned into a room big enough for 11.  I had been stuck with these folks all day, and I was done.  Hungry, cranky, hot, NOT a good thing.  Well we sat there for 15 minutes, and no food arrived.  Finally, the head guy showed up and said there’d be a delay.  He explained why, but all I heard was “At least half an hour.”

Annnd I was done!  I hit the breaking point.  I was hungry enough that I was considering Donner Party mode, trying to figure out which of my co-workers to eat first.  Instead, I stood up, looked at the Shairf and said, “Pal, I am out!  Can’t do this anymore!” and I left.  (The silence behind was deafening, I think MANY wanted to leave but I was the only one to do it.)  I knew in my car I had 2 cliff bars that were calling my name.  I went straight to the car, scarfed them both down, felt a bit more human and drove home (stopping at Taco Time for a real lunch!)

I apologized some the next day, explaining the hot and hunger pushed me over the ledge.  Needless to say, this did NOT help the Shairf and I grow closer.  Lucky for me he was let go a few months later (I think it was his “fashion sense” that did him in, or the fact he lambasted Mother Teresa in all company meeting (true story, never did understand that one!)

To this day though, when i hear team-building, I get hot and sweaty and need a snack….


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