December 3, 2002
I haven't made it to Assistant Manager at Hancock Fabrics without attending a workshop every once in a while. Let's see, I've had to sit through "Principles of Time Management," "Stress: The Demon in the Workplace," and "Trends in Button Presentation." But the worst of the worst of these workshops is always the team-building workshop. That's because team-building, according to these vulgar little New Age-y people, seems to involve lots of neck massages and hand-holding.
The workshop attended by the seven cast members is no exception. They no sooner get comfortable and sit through some inevitable "icebreaker" (oh, that word alone gives me the hives!) when they have to fling themselves off a rickety ladder and into the sweaty arms of their housemates.
But, mes amis, allow me to back up. The kids have to attend this workshop because they're not cohering properly. Or, maybe they have to attend because their boss Marc is some sort of sadist. Anyway, the Real Worlders show up bright and early to their instructor's palatial estate; their instructor is, of course, Awesome Ann, who we've met before (see the October 1st episode)- she's the especially shrill lady in the other workshop the kids had to attend.
Awesome Ann warns the kids that the process of becoming a strong team is difficult. She warns them that sometimes, they'll want to leave. I suspect that the cast members would have liked to leave immediately. Instead, they fling themselves off ladders. Maybe they're hoping for a nice concussion, so that they can black the rest of the day out.
Arissa has a really, really hard time with the ladder trial. She has never successfully hidden the contempt she has for her peers, and she probably expects them to drop her, and then to drool on her. "There is no way I'm going to climb that ladder and trust people I can't even trust to clean the sink!" she huffs. Is Arissa wrong to feel this way? Probably not, but of course, she gets over it. She flings herself into her roomies' waiting arms, and then everyone cheers and hugs.
You'd think that would be the end of it; the untrusting girl let herself be manhandled- hooray! But, alas, no. Hours later, the sun has set and the kids are still going at it. Now they have to pretend that they're on a cruise ship that's sinking. For some reason, the idiot who designed the ship only included a lifeboat for one person. The Real Worlders have to decide which lucky cast member gets to survive. Ginger? The Professor?
The kids were taking this exercise so seriously that for a moment, I thought that we really were going to lose six of them. They walk in a circle telling their colleagues to die, and by the end, there's no clear survivor. Arissa, in a burst of newfound confidence, appoints herself the survivor and then has to hear everyone else's dying words. Impending doom, or at least the fantasy of impending doom, unleashes a cataract of tears and sentiment from these erstwhile party animals. It's "The Real World" as a Lifetime movie!
Arissa soaks this all up and vows to change her hot-headed ways. She promises to value her friends more, but she says nothing about having more fun. I don't think I've ever seen Arissa have a lick of fun, and I think that would do more for her than all the greeting-card emotion in the world. Steve offers to help Arissa on her journey, after reminding us several times that he's been working on all these issues for the past few years. He likes to fancy himself a trend-setter, you see.
By the end of the workshop, the kids are so weakened by exhaustion that they're indiscriminately hugging and crying. Get those kids a sandwich; their blood sugar levels must be in the basement! Will all this rigmarole make them better workers? For some reason, I have a hunch that the whole "team" thing started to fade as soon as the Real World van pulled out of Ann's driveway. Never fear, by next week, it will be business as usual.
Who Cries? Mon dieu! It would be easier to list who doesn't cry. Arissa manages, however, to spend the entire episode in tears.
Most Annoying: After a day with Awesome Ann, it's clear that these kids need to be de-programmed, and fast!
Work Etiquette Tip of the Week: Feeling testy? Undervalued? Walk up to your coworkers and say, "You die." It's a team-building exercise!
Best Quote: Awesome Ann certainly knows how to break the ice with the Real Worlders. "Look at your ugly faces! Are you nervous?"
Best Quote of Utter Resignation: "I'm ok with dying," says Irulan. Especially after a 12 hour brainwashing session with Awesome Ann.
Next Week: Steve says, "Bring on the babies!"
Want to tell Mrs. Filthy something?