This week has been, in work-related-matters terms, quite average. But everything has been made ten times worse by the fact that I've been ill. But we're so short-staffed and hard-pushed at the moment, I haven't had the heart to stay off ill. I'm most certainly not working whilst ill for the benefit of the company, I just don't like letting my colleagues down.
On Tuesday a customer tutted and shot a filthy look when I coughed, whilst serving them, into my fleece sleeve. My fury knew no bounds. I'm still ranting about it to anybody who'll listen now. I felt like getting them in a head-lock and screaming at them, spit flying into their face, "How dare you! Do you think I'm not human or something? A robot? Would you rather I stayed at home and coughed in bed? No. You wouldn't. Because then you'd be standing there tutting because you had to queue for longer!"
Luckily my symptoms eased yesterday. Which was just as well because it was the glorious day of the Team Building Workshop. I have never been so patronised, insulted, humiliated and belittled in all my natural days. I'm sure they only made us do half of the exercises to have a good giggle at the photographs.
Basically, all the management team and supervisors in my Food Place branch had to attend this "day of fun" at our regional training offices - sixty-five miles away. With me being one of the designated drivers. If you knew anything about my navigating skills you'd be shuddering at the mere thought. Miraculously, for the first time in history, the directions from the AA website were accurate and didn't make reference to phantom roundabout exits. Cover staff from Ellenfoot were left babysitting our store.
The introduction presentation, at the start of the day, included testimonials from Food Place staff across the country, informing us how wonderfully useful and fun the whole day was going to be. I suspect these may have been false.
After introducing ourselves (to each other - the people we've worked with for God knows how many years), we congregated in the car park outside to play a team-building game. We were told this would be fun. It was actually highly embarrassing. We each had a tennis ball, and we had to pass them to the people opposite us, all at the same time. This sounds easy. But a bunch of balls thrown at the same time, in the same direction, are bound to collide. We spent more time darting across the car-park retrieving balls than anything else. And all this in full view of passing traffic.
Once back inside, we began another exercise. This time far more humiliating. We were divided into three groups, and we each had to produce and perform a song and dance routine all about how good our store was. Obviously, the first question raised was: "But what if our store isn't good?" The trainer-woman picked the teams for us and happened to put all the shy people into the same group. Which included me. So, ours was a complete and utter farce when it came to the performance and the recorded video footage has probably made us a national laughing stock amongst Food Place human resources teams.
All this I could cope with. To some extent. But the final practical exercise of the day was torture itself. A rug was placed on the floor. This rug was roughly 2 square metres in size and we were all instructed to stand upon it. All 15 of us. It was bad enough that we were all squashed in such close vicinity to each other. But then came the actual aim of the exercise. We had to flip the rug over, so we were all ended up standing on the reverse side of it, without any of us stepping off.
Oh my God. It was absolute hell on earth. We tried all manner of wacky ideas and most of them revolved around getting as many feet as possible off the rug. And the only way to do that was to lift people up. Being 5 feet, five inches tall and weighing a mere 10 stone, I was quickly selected to be one of the people hoisted into the air. My ribs are completely battered and shattered. By the end of it, I'd been on peoples' backs, lifted up by my armpits, raised onto the shoulders of the four tallest people, lifted up by my stomach. But, unfortunately, since the group also needed to spare half of the their energy to put to the task of flipping the rug, it meant everybody had to chip in with the lifting effort. Me, Lorraine and Sean ended up jammed in the middle, hoisted in the air, desperately trying to resist the urge to dive out and scream "THIS IS SO STUPID AND I REFUSE TO TAKE PART!" Everybody was sweaty by this point.
We eventually managed to pull it off. Two hours later. Not an experience I care to repeat.
Of course, it wasn't all practical "fun". There were lots of boring lectures, we played a game with Lego pieces and took personality tests. The last two, at least, were interesting and, somewhat, fun.
On the way back, the manager decided we were all going bowling. If my pride was damaged by the rituals of the day, it was certainly won back when I thrashed everybody in 4 out of 5 games.