The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jan 9, 2010

Team Building

The Russian, the Russian, the Yorkshireman and the Indian slogged so hard for several months that at the end of that time they had a viable product offering and a client in the pipeline. They hadn't had a holiday in all that time, and feeling both euphoric and exhausted, one Thursday night they sat down to discuss how they should spend the next few days.

"We need to relax," said the Russian.

"Shall we take a few days off?" said the Indian.

"We've got the client coming in on Tuesday," said the Yorkshireman.

"I know!" said the Russian. "We can do one of those team-bonding exercises."

They thought about this for a while. Nobody voiced the thought that if the last six months hadn't bound them, a weekend probably wouldn't either.

"Scuba-diving?" suggested the Yorkshireman.

"I can't swim," said the Indian.

"I have asthma," said the Russian.

"Hiking in the Peak District?" suggested the Russian.

"Canoeing in Cornwall?" said the Yorkshireman.

"Fly-fishing!" said the Indian.

For some reason, that last idea appealed to all of them.

A few short Google queries later, they learned that Scotland was possibly the best place to attempt this sport of kings.

The Yorkshireman, as an honorary Scot, was tasked with researching locations, accommodations, transportation. The others went off to purchase the equipment.

The next evening, they arrived at their cottage on the banks of a fast-flowing stream, changed into their brand-new fishing outfits, grabbed their fishing rods and bait and things, and rushed to the river.

A couple of elderly Scotsmen watched them approach.

"Where's a good place to fish?" said the Russian.

One of the Scotsmen pointed wordlessly at the river.

The other Scotsman gruffly said, "You need a licence to fish in these waters."

The visitors screeched to a halt.

"A licence? What licence? Where?" said the Indian.

"I knew I forgot something," said the Yorkshireman.

"You can get a licence at the store in the village," said the other Scotsman.

They piled back into their car and drove madly to the village, where they found the store. It was closed.

"Now what?" said the Russian.

"We can watch the football," said the Russian. "We'll start fishing early tomorrow."

They went back to the cottage, gathered around the dining table, turned on their portable TV, cracked open some beers, and spent the rest of the evening urging one team or the other.

The next morning, they appeared at the store as it opened.

"Four fishing licences, please," said the Indian.

"Sorry," said the storekeeper. "Only locals are allowed to fish in our waters on Saturdays."

They staggered under the blow.

"But we have come all the way from London!" wailed the Russian. "We are only here for the weekend!"

"Sorry," said the storekeeper.

Crestfallen, they headed back to their cottage. On the way they found several locals standing knee-deep in the river. There was much cheer among the locals. The locals were catching and releasing shiny fish of this colour and that size.

The visitors slunk into the cottage. They drank more beer. They didn't talk to each other much. They didn't watch football.

The next morning, Sunday, they appeared at the store. It didn't open. They hung about the village, took brief walks around the village pond, and waited some more. The store didn't open.

A helpful villager said that the store was closed on Sundays. Could they get the licence elsewhere? Unlikely, but did they want to try in town several miles away?

It was too much to bear. Neither the beer (which by now they were running out of) nor the football could raise their spirits that day.

On Sunday night, the Russian said,"We have come here to fish, and by thunder, we will fish. We'll get the licence tomorrow, we'll fish till 2 o'clock, and we'll drive back to London in time for the client visit."

The Yorkshireman sang a maudlin song. The Russian snored. The Indian shrugged despondently.

The next morning, they appeared at the store as it opened. The storekeeper sold them four licences. This time they didn't rush enthusiastically to the river. They walked, brows furrowed in thought. They avoided the other anglers and fly-fishers, and headed towards a spot by a bend in the river. They waded into the stream and cast their lines, which snagged on rocks and trees and the occasional twig floating by. They sighed, now with contentment and then with exasperation.

Besides the chirping of the birds, there was the quiet splish-splosh of the fish, the sussuration of the breeze, the whirr of the fishing lines. There were faint buzzing sounds and sporadic cracks as one fisherman after another slapped himself on the arm or the face. Other than these noises, there was peace and quiet.

Which was broken suddenly by a moan from the Russian and a shriek from the Yorkshireman.

The Russian and the Indian craned their necks to investigate.

"My God," said the Yorkshireman,"What's happened to your face?"

The moaning Russian sagged to his knees and moaned some more. The Russian and the Indian stared with horror at his face.

It had swollen and expanded. His cheeks covered his eyes. His ears were the size of cauliflowers. As they looked on, his hands began to swell up and then his neck. His lips expanded and so did his tongue. He looked nothing less than the Incredible Hulk.

All around, the midges swarmed and stung.

The Russian and the Indian and the Yorkshireman dragged the moaning Russian out of the water. Expensive fishing rods and fancy bait were forgotten in their headlong flight towards the car. They drove with appalling speed to the village and then to a town miles away where a helpful medic injected copious doses of antihistamine into the Russian.

Without a backward glance, they jumped back in the car and sped southwards to England and safety. Near the outskirts of London, several hours later, the moaning Russian stopped moaning. He could see again and talk once more. Out of the window flew the fisherman hats and the fisherman jackets, the fisherman permits and the fisherman boots. They returned to London and the comforts of their office and cast fishing and bonding out of their minds.

The next day they met the client and landed the contract. And they celebrated by going to a nearby pub where again they watched football with fresh hope and pleasure renewed.


VictorsFood said...

A strange and prescient tale. Too many companies try to organise team building events without the right resources or planning. Leave it to the professionals!

Fëanor said...

VictorsFood: thanks for stopping by and welcome to the blog!

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