Friday, October 03, 2008

Team building: I'm doin it rite!

When it comes to work my general rule is you go in, do your hours (ensuring the work is completed to a consistently high standard, I should add), then go home. I'm not the sort of person to socialise with my workmates, and I once shocked Scanner to his core by telling him that I "don't go to work to make friends, I go there to do what I'm paid to do."

(Fortunately, I have actually made some wonderful friends in the workplace over the years)

That being the case I very rarely take part in our company events - I've been to two parties in the last nine years, skipped every Christmas lunch, and managed to wangle my way out of various other social events. In a similar vein, the words 'team-building exercise' send shivers down my spine. I mean, seriously, what does a paint-balling game really do? Highlights each individual's popularity within the office based on the number of times they're shot, that's what. And when all is said and done there are only so many times you can shoot the same person repeatedly in the head until they can't see out of their goggles anymore. 

Anyway, a few weeks back it was suggested that we should all head out to do go-karting. As you can imagine, I immediately began coming up with excuses as to how to get out of it: "I'm too busy," "it's not my thing," "I hate motorsport," "I'll be rubbish," etc. 

Eventually, though, I just gave up and realised that there was no way I'd be able to get out of it.

Today we went go-karting.

Things went a bit pear-shaped from the get-go as I'd decided to drive myself there bearing in mind that the track isn't too far from home and I figured I'd just head straight off home afterwards rather than go back to the office. Fair enough, but what actually happened was that me and my colleague in all things Star Trek actually made a few wrong turns and almost didn't get there in time. Thank god for Google Maps on iPhone…

Anyway, once we arrived at Surbiton Raceway we pulled on race suits, grabbed helmets, gloves, and a manky balaclava, and waited to be divided up into teams of two ready for a one-hour endurance race. Oh, dear reader, it was like first year P.E. all over again: at the end I found myself standing alone while everyone else buddied up to their partner. 

"You'll have to drive alone," said the track boss.

"Great!" I said, finally getting into the spirit of things and raising two thumbs aloft.

"Enjoy that while it lasts," boss-man said, nodding at my raised arms. "You probably won't be able to move them after an hour in a kart."

"Oh," I replied.

So off we toddled to the track. A consequence of me flying solo was that whereas everyone else would be pitting-in to swap drivers at various stages throughout the race, I had no one to swap with. Bonus, I thought, figuring that it would give me the chance to get a higher number of laps in (the race was an endurance, so the winner is the person who does the most laps of the track). Unfortunately, the track crew had a contingency plan for such an eventuality: four times throughout the race I would have to pit-in, get out of the kart, run around it, get back in, then drive off again. Great - not only was I flying solo but I'd look like an absolute idiot in the process.

Now, let me say here that my Big Bro is a very keen, very good go-karter - he has trophies and everything. In contrast, I've only done it twice, and both those times were silly little kiddy karts that don't do more than about 12 mph. I was not expecting to do very well at all. And the practice lap we did seemed to confirm this; I was reluctant to pick up too much speed, and I thought my kart was broken because the steering was really heavy. Turns out that karts just have really heavy steering.

A few minutes later we lined up on the grid. I was in sixth, not because I'd earned it or anything - that was just the next available space when I pulled up. Then the dude waved his flag and we were off…

…And something happened to me. I don't know whether I was picking up strange psychic-brain vibes from Big Bro or what, but I suddenly transformed - some sort of bizarre alpha male region in my mind kicked into action and I could not think of anything but how to get the best racing line, how to pass the kart in front, and how could everyone else be driving SO SLOWLY?! Seriously, I actually wondered at one point if my kart had a horn so I could beep everyone else and get them to move out of the way. But then it wasn't needed because with my newfound skills and smooth on-track moves I was passing people with ease. I could see other colleagues waiting to take their turn marveling at me from the observation area. I was on fire (not literally). At one point I even shouted "C'MON!" although it all got a bit muffled by the manky balaclava and helmet.

As the race progressed I ensured that I made my four obligatory pit-stops - the last of which was captured on camera (as I jogged round my kart I made a point of holding up four fingers to prove that I'd done all four) - and actually started getting a bit cocky; I waved at my boss as I passed him on the straight. He later retaliated, however, by banging into me and spinning me off the track twice.

Before I knew it, though, the hour was up and the chequered flag was being waved. I pulled my kart into the pit lane for the last time, clambered out (didn't bother running round it this time), and walked up to the observation area. And that's when something else strange started happening. Everyone started looking at me and making comments like "you blasted the rest of us off the track," and "you were moving some!" I laughed it off, and thought that maybe I might've finished in a reasonable mid-field position. 

After a few post-karting photos we moved into the clubhouse bit where the track boss started to read, in reverse order, the results. Out of the seven teams, I was pleased to hear that I wasn't last. And then he kept reading… and by the time he got to the fourth-placed team he was handing out little trophy-thingies. Ooo, I thought, it's a dead cert that I'll get one of those - Big Bro will be pleased with me. 

Then he announced third place … and it wasn't me.

I nervously looked across at the only other team left, realising then that I really, REALLY, wanted to be first. Not 'first of the losers,' but first.

And do you know what? I GOT IT!!!!!!

I'd like to thank the Academy, my friends and family… Seriously though, I was well chuffed with this. I immediately took a photo of it and sent it to Big Bro - my first time in a proper kart and I nailed it!! Woo-hoo!

After that we all headed across the road for a slap-up pub lunch, where I was probably immensely insufferable as I gloated about my win.

Now drench me in champagne and get me a gaggle of supermodels to bang!


Some stats!

• I did 1o6 laps - two more than the second-placed team.
• I took the fastest lap of our group at a smidgeon over 27.5 seconds (.4 of a second faster than the next fastest person, and just two seconds off the all-time track record).
• My fastest lap was done on my 101st lap, just five before the race ended.
• I had the highest average speed over the course of the race.
• My buns looked fantastic in a racing suit.


CyberPete said...


CyberPete said...

Congrats! That's awesome.

God I hate those team building things. I've attended my share of those, but thankfully we never went go-karting - or maybe I was lucky to skip those.

I pick the people I want to hang out with, so although I made some great friends at work (not where I am currently located - I'm sure they hate me) and we did hang out a lot. The annual Christmas lunch is a bit difficult because I don't like massive crowdes.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Well, now that's a turn up for the books - Congratulations!

I hate work socialising, too. Never go to the christmas parties or any of the stupid after work drinks. If I don't speak to them at work, why should I speak to them in my own time?
I do have a work coven, though. Just the three of us. Oh, and a work hag, too!

I expect you'll be posting the photos of your fantastic racing suit-clad buns in the next post, along with being drenched in champagne? Possibly with your top off?

Dinah said...

I was going to say - the picture of the racing trophy is great, but where are the racing buns?

The last time I was in a go-kart I nearly died because it didn't have any brakes. Well, I'm not sure how true the 'nearly died' part is, but I was really banged up.

T-Bird said...

He hee! I like the part about alpha male racing skills.


Tim said...

Cyberpete - Damn right! It is awesome, I totally can't believe I won - I'm chuffed to bits!

I think my company is used to me not doing the Christmas lunch now, and just say "you are welcome to come if you want to." It's always nice to be invited, even if you decide not to go.

Inexplicable Device - You have a work coven!? You're cheating on us!?

I'm hoping to nab some photos at some point - obviously I don't have any at the moment because I was driving my tits off. Plus it's illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. I don't think there will be any of my buns though.

Dinah - That's awful, though pretty close to what I thought would happen to me today. I hope it's not traumatised you?

T-Bird - It was SO true! I was furrowing my forehead, glaring at people, and wrenching the steering wheel from side-to-side. I was insane!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

No, no. The work coven is but a neccesity to get me through the day. Actually, we only coven-it-up about once a month as we work in different depts.
And it's not nearly as exciting as The Coven!

We don't get to see racing-buns (or have to imagine them), for a start.

CyberPete said...

True, and they all want me to attend the Christmas thing this year which is nice.

I hope your racing buns didn't leave any skidmarks

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Ah, I see. I'm still not sure about it though. I shall have to confer with the other members.

Come Dinah, come T-Bird - we must huddle.

Cyberpete - That is nice. And no, no skidmarks - even when my boss barged me off twice.

CyberPete said...

Thank god!

Skidmarks are nasty

T-Bird said...

*huddling, hides ear DeVIce and hopes no one can see she's wired*

Dinah said...

*huddles, hoping to catch up on all of the gossip and buns*

BEAST said...

Hurrah! . Congratulations . You'all get good team building stuff , the last one I was forced to go on was team Bongo Drumming in a tent :-(

CyberPete said...

Beastie that doesn't sound too bad. We had to do sand castles once.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Yes they are.

T-Bird - Eeew, you've got a DeVice in your ear. You never know where it's been!

Dinah - Now listen up ladies, IDV's been cheating on us. I don't know how long it's been going on but I don't like it. What shall we do?

Beast - Thanks! Yes, I can see how go-karting would trump bongo-drumming. I would've been tempted to smash the bongos, knock over the tent and just take a duvet day.

Cyberpete - I think you and Beast both need new jobs. Or at the very least workmates who aren't a) high, or b) five.

CyberPete said...

Last team building was axe throwing, pulling ropes, climbing walls and such. I would have made a not so subtle post about it if I had actually attended.

I think they hire someone to take care of the team building days. Still this was another job years ago. Thank god, I'm not there anymore.

T-Bird said...

*peeks around from huddle, fiddles with device*

You're right, Tim. I don't know where it's been, but I'm pretty sure where it wants to go when I am done with it.

watch*paint*dry said...

I knew it, you are the Stig!
Well done you. I would have paid serious money to see the look on the whipping boy's face!

Tim said...

Cyberpete - That sounds awful. No wonder you left!

T-Bird - Um, in the bin?

Watch*Paint*Dry - However you imagine it looked, it was 10 times better!

CyberPete said...

Yeah I know. I totally left!

After they asked me to (although I was gagging to get out of there). I was an intern back then and that lasted 2 years. 2 years of hell.

TSC - Transvaal Skiboat Fishing Club said...

Hi guys...

Maybe you can assist me?

If working as a team is important in an office, what would you feel is valuable and worthwhile as an activity/ies for the group to do for some REAL team Building?

WE design genuine team building events.. So I'd really appreciate your thoughts.


Tony Dovale

Tim said...

Ooo, good question! Well, I'd definitely say that go-karting is a good one, although I don't think it so much builds teams as it does blow them apart in an incredibly competitive arena.

Um… I s'pose it's just got to be something fun that encourages people to work together. On the other hand, though, if I genuinely don't like someone I can't see an adventure holiday changing that!