A special circle of white-collar Hell

Never forget why you hate work. Barging its way uninvited into my mind today, comes this perfectly random memory from my life as an employee.

We’d been shipped out of our office to a training facility: an otherwise unproductive rented space on the outskirts of town specifically designed for extra-curricular office bod torture.

We were given a teamwork exercise by a professional trainer: to construct a pre-designed arbor-like sculpture from bamboo canes without using more than our combined index fingers and the gift of cooperation. Teamwork, see?

Looking at our third or fourth effort to build the shack laying scattered upon the floor, I heard myself saying “This is so f*cking stupid,” but neglecting to pronounce the asterisk properly.

The words were out, and hanging in front of all of our faces in glorious 76pt Comic Sans. There could be no avoiding them: a glorious elephant in the training room.

“I beg your pardon?!” snapped the trainer.

“Sorry, Sorry,” I said and smoothed the situation over using the diplomatic skills I’d leaned on a previous training day.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

3 Responses to “A special circle of white-collar Hell”

  1. Drew says:

    That’s funny and irritating at the same time. Irritating because, for most readers, it conjures up memories of similar episodes…forced “leadership / teamwork” training, awkward situations where you were caught off guard, and the urge to throttle overbearing, self-important assholes in the workplace.

    I often fantasize about what I should have done years ago in situation x or y…e.g. “What…did I stutter? What exactly didn’t you understand about THIS. IS. FUCKING. STUPIIIIIIID!” (think Sparta) followed by a hearty throat-chop, and broken glass as the trainer is round-housed so hard he goes through the window, to the delight of my co-workers.

    See? That feels better already.

  2. Bev says:

    I remember a management/staff session held at a very fancy downtown hotel, with amazing catered food, that had us swap roles for a role playing game in which everyone would do better if both sides cooperated, but one side could win if they screwed over the other side. Predictably, the managers (who were playing as staff) “won” the game by screwing the staff team. This training day was held specifically to improve communication between the sides, as some consultant had determined there was a problem. The managers gloated at their “victory” and the staff, unable to fully articulate their feelings (that asterisk problem again) because of all the managers in the room, left with all their previous held stereotypes and negative feelings about managers permanently burned in.

    That was a decently paying job, with good benefits and pension but I quit shortly after, and I haven’t worked for a paycheque ever since. I guess I should be grateful things were made so clear to me that day.

  3. Good God. That’s brilliant.

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