I remember being whisked off to a corporate retreat almost twenty years ago, and I was such a frigging (blessed) naive innocent that I truly believed we had been invited there to have meaningful discussions as a group, such discussions facilitated by someone from Corporate Office, who would help us see things in a new light.
OKAY, I already said I was naive and innocent.
So whatever, 12 of us ended up at the Banff Springs Hotel for three days of indoctrination (I know now), but at the time, I really thought my company was trying to help us grow as people and professionals.
So whatever, on the second day our insructor led us through some foolish exercise, which made all of us laugh a lot and we all had fun, but apparently there was a moral: "The entire team is only as strong as its weakest link."
But me, all dumb and 25 years old, really thought this was a sharing, learning experience so I said, "But that's not true! The prophet Kahlil Gibran teaches us that we can not judge the strength of the ocean based on the foam that washes up on the shore."
And I SINCERELY believed I was doing good, that I was initializing deeper philosophical conversation.
To say this did not go over well is putting it mildly.I was made to feel like a mass murderer who had just skinned a kitten so I could place the pelt on top of some three year old beauty queen. (read: NOT GOOD)
At the end of my Day of Humiliation, we had to retreat to our hotel rooms to do our homework, and share our answers with The Group on the final day. I remember neither the questions nor the multiple choice answers, but it went something like this:
1. Your employee was last seen at the staff bar, completely loaded and unable to walk unassisted, at 3:30 am. He calls in sick the next morning. You:
a) tell him you hope he had fun and get him a coffee and an aspirin
b) tell him you were at the bar, too, and thought his half naked dance on the pool table was fabulous
c) give him a gentle pat on the head, and suggest he consider rearranging his schedule so he can attend Cheap Beer Night without affecting the department
d) Write his ass the fuck up
2. You have given your employee direct instructions, and a purchase order, to buy photocopier paper from Company A. Instead, he orders from Company B, at a higher price, because they are going to give him a new video game console as thanks. You:
a) thank him for considering all the perks, after all you didn't KNOW about the free game system
b)Ask if he will give the game system to YOU, after all you are the department head
c) Ask if you can at least come over to his house to watch him play
d) Write his ass the fuck up.
Needless (I HOPE) to say, when I turned in my homework the next day, almost all of my answers were D. Cause,see, I answered HONESTLY, I didn't answer in the spirit of the bullshit ocean wave crap.
Did not go well.
And around Question Five, when we were sharing our answers as a group, and everyone else around me kept answering A or B, and I was the solitary D on EVERY QUESTION,a woman I (previously) considered to be my friend said, "WOW, what kind of parents did YOU have??"
EXCUSE ME?? You want to criticize me? My decision making process? My motivation? The fact that my favourite colour is purple? Fine. But what the HELL do my amazing, loving parents have to do with it??
"Well, you're just so judgemental, I figured there must be a REASON, it must be the way your parents raised you." God I hated her in that moment, and that one sentence from her lips literaly ended our friendship, and as much as I mourned the loss of April in my life, I do not and have not ever regretted it for a second. Either you get me or you don't.
You're goddamn right that's the way my parents raised me. They raised me to take responsibility for my actions, to own up to my mistakes, to celebrate myself when I do something well. What they did NOT teach me was to be a slacker or to put blame on others for things I did myself.
And I am better because of it. I am ME because of it.