Today was the annual retreat for Orwellian Industry employees, the circus that gives employees the illusion that their opinions count. Some clown in middle management came up with the idea of calling it an Advance rather than Retreat and was immediately promoted. Other than that, no ideas have ever been implemented and the same ideas are recommended every year.
Each year I think of an excuse not to go, but it seems the only acceptable ones are major (emergency) surgeries or death (immediate family or self). I have seen people arrive in multiple casts, covered in poison ivy rashes from head to toe, spiking high fevers, and with symptoms of heart attacks.
"There is no excuse in teamwork," is the Advance Committee's motto.
Each year the same Advance Facilitator is hired though the (tiny) Suggestion Box is crammed with protests. His only qualification is having been the high school basketball coach who whipped the CEO's son into shape. His idea of an Advance is playing musical chairs all day so the employees mix it up at different tables with hypothetical problems to solve, problems that occur every day, problems they already know how to solve but that management refuses to solve because their jobs would dissolve.
To get through the day, many normally sober individuals arrive intoxicated with frequent trips to the bathroom for refills. Non-drug-addicts arrive high on marijuana with extra joints for smoking breaks outdoors. The more audacious come with lines of cocaine. Multicolored pills are generously passed around for all the people with sudden headaches. Mind you, this is normally a staid, law-abiding bunch. But we need something to get us through. The practiced meditators, self-hypnotizers and dissociators are at an advantage. The rest of us are at the mercy of chemicals. I also resort to earplugs and my iPod camouflaged by my long curly hair. Deafness for the day helps a lot.
Still, I end up saying things I regret because Mr. Stealth finds something negative in everything I say, even when I am trying to please him with a positive suggestion and I inevitably get the everyone is talking about you and no one respects you routine again.
published 13 February 2013