Saturday, 27 August 2016

Team Building

Any employer contemplating a corporate team-building exercise could do a lot worse than a day out in Hull, at the moment.
Avoiding the pigeons has always been a challenge for me - I hate birds - and for the last few months there've been flocks of huge seagulls, too.  I skulk along the side of buildings, rarely breaking cover unless I can follow closely behind some large random stranger, taking advantage of their unknowing protection.  If forced to go it alone across open ground, I walk in short, sharp bursts of speed, with frequent abrupt stops, freezing, then changing direction as I try to avoid the avian enemy.
Now, to add to the adventure, new obstacles have appeared throughout the city.  Most of the pavement has been dug up, and replaced with holes surrounded by orange plastic fences, inside which orange-clad people move in mysterious ways.  As it's in preparation for the City of Culture celebrations next year, I did wonder at first if it was some kind of performance art, but no, they're just replacing all the pavements, and a large chunk of road surface.  All at the same time.

Ok, I exaggerate.   Some of the fences are wire mesh, and some of the pavement is so far untouched.  It'll look lovely when it's finished.
Meanwhile, most of the city centre is an obstacle course.  As soon as they complete one bit, they move the orange barriers to block off a different path, offering a new and exciting challenge to pigeon-fearing pedestrians in a hurry.  I can never be sure that I can take the same route twice.

I did go on one of those team-building thingys once, a few years ago at the Elsham Activity Centre.  It was brilliant, and the best time I've ever had with work colleagues.  {Apart from snogging a co-worker in the bank strong room in 1977, but I don't suppose that counts.}  We opted for laser tag rather than paintball and, when we saw the paintballers we realized it had been a good choice - they were huge, and all had matching camouflage gear, whereas we were mostly skinny clerks with new trainers.  It was a great day out with a lot of laughter, and we certainly saw a new side to some people.  {In my case, usually my backside sticking out when I was trying to hide.}

As you may know, I don't like sport and, like many writers, I'm a bit of a loner.  I think the word 'team' is vastly overused in the wrong context, {I am a colleague or co-worker, not a 'team member'} but I was actually in a proper team, once. Second reserve for the school netball team, which I took pride in as a real achievement; it got me out of lessons, but I didn't have to do anything except sit on the ground at the edge of the court, wrapped up in everybody's tracksuits.  {Or, rarely, sunbathing.}  The first reserve had to play occasionally, but I was pretty safe.

Back in Hull, my commuting is probably safe, but not easy.  Which brings me back to the team building challenge - "Your task is to get from across town to the furthest platform of the railway station in twelve minutes or less.  Do not swear, do not collide with anyone or anything, avoid anything with wings."  At least I don't actually have a team to worry about.  I nearly made it yesterday but got stuck halfway at the end of a slow-moving procession of people following a small, pavement-sweeping truck.  Given the amount of exposed earth in the area, I wouldn't be surprised if it was still there this morning.

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