i ask myself “what the fuck was i thinking?” on a regular basis. This should be a clue. A big clue that perhaps my instantaneous judgment leaves something to be desired. Maybe i should think before accepting offers that “sound fun” on the surface. Such was the case a week ago, when i agreed to participate in a “sporting event” at work.
Each summer the laboratory forces employees to endure hosts a Summer Carnival. Senior leaders man the grill, drenching the armpits of their golf shirts with the sincere sweat of “good intentions”. Young engineers enthusiastically embrace the event, designing fun things for nerds and nerd families to enjoy. The mid-career types dutifully bring wives* and children to the “face painting” station and the “bouncy castle”**. Us “old and crusty” types show up, wander around, eat the meat, grumble amongst ourselves about the heat and lack of cold beer, and slink quietly back to our offices.
Last week, i didn’t escape so easily. New this year was the “tug of war” competition. Teams of six, including at least one female, were to be formed by each division, and a bracketed tournement would be held. Have i mentioned that to this very day, only 18% of all engineering graduates have ovaries? Despite my age, and perhaps because of my thunderous thighs, i was the first name hacked up for consideration. When the “young ‘uns”, who pretend to worship me for my passion for technology, irreverence and my wilingness to endure humiliation joie de vivre asked if i’d play, i agreed.
In the sweltering heat and humidity, we faced a team of summer students. i reminded my team that it isn’t just about size – technique counts. Get low, stay low! None of that stupid “heave, heave, heave” stuff, either. Doesn’t work… when you stop between “heaves”, your opponents will pull you down onto your face in the mud. And step on your head.
We beat the pack of Junior Geeks – but it was much closer than it should have been. After four preliminary matches, it was clear that we were going to have to get serious if we were to have a chance. Soon into our second match, we knew we were in trouble. The crowd roared with boredom as things looked grim for our team.
Things started off tense… well, at least the rope was tense. Everyone else was kinda just standing there. We were pretty sure we were going down, and not in a good way. Water balloon fights had occurred earlier in the afternoon, and slippery grass makes for poor traction. Fortunately, no one was hurt when the Big Man*** took a tumble.
A crushing blow. After it was over, i was still frightfully awash in competitive juices. There was no one to hit. Needing to vent my rage i had to do the grunt, scratch and snarl routine. Apparently, i wandered by the photographer in mid-snarl… She sent me this photo today, asking if it was ok to include it in the “post event slide show”.
Oy. it’s a bit of good fortune that i’m pretty good at what i do for a living, or i’d be in a world of hurt. Beyond the rope burn on my left forearm, and permanent knee damage…
* Funny, but i can’t think of a single case where a woman employee has brought a husband. My ex-husband worked in the building for decades and managed to avoid these things… i suppose if there were more “stay at home dads”, it might be different…
** They don’t let me work the childrens booth. i once jokingly suggested that it would be more fun if we sprayed the bottom of the bouncy castle with cooking spray first… i was kidding.
*** Think Clarence Clemmons with a PhD in Physics. He is brilliant, kind and could probably crush a typical member of the geek-squad like an aluminum soda can if so inclined.