Tag Archives: work events

We may have bonded for the wrong reasons.

8 Jul

A few weeks ago the crew from my office went to my colleague’s home to celebrate the graduation of her daughter. It was sweet of her to invite us, and it was nice to get a glimpse of her life outside of work. It didn’t hurt that she has a friendly family and a beautiful home.

It did, however, remind me, of another time, years ago, when someone dared to blur the line between work and home, with significantly less impressive results.

For almost a decade, I’ve managed people in markets other than where I sit, which means I often fly in for a 3-4 day junket and try to do as much as possible while I’m visiting. Client visits? Shadow interviews? Performance reviews?  Team building? Bring it!

In this case, I was visiting a market with a relatively new team who was struggling to bond. There was a certain amount of back-stabbing drama, and I was hoping to put an end to it while in town. I offered to take everyone out to  dinner, but one of the women countered my proposal, inviting us all to her house instead. Very nice.

While that seems like a good idea on the surface, I probably should have stuck with Plan A since I’d never seen her home. But I didn’t. Noted.

So cut to 6pm, when we walk through her front door. And are immediately greeted by a rotweiler and a black lab. And when I say greeted, I mean: after jumping on us, unable to contain its excitement, the lab lifts his leg and pees on my boots.

Could've been worse! (Image Source: HaHaStop)

Fortunately, they are knee-high boots, so they sort of function like fishing waders and keep my legs dry. But still, I’m standing there in the kitchen, in a puddle of urine with wet boots. That definitely isn’t how I would choose to say, “Welcome to my home!” to a co-worker.

Luckily, I have a change of clothes with me, so I excuse myself to the bathroom to freshen up. (I’ve also been sitting in traffic for upwards of an hour and gulping water on the way to her home, so my run to the bathroom is multi-functional.)

In the bathroom, I close the door, set about washing off my boots, then turn to use the toilet. And am greeted by an open bowl, already hosting a turd the side the size of 50 Cent’s forearm. Just… wow.

My incredulity quickly turns to panic, however, because I realize I’ve been in the bathroom long enough that if I go back out and announce that the toilet is clogged, they are going to think I’m the reason. So suddenly, her turd (or, more likely, her husband/child’s turd) becomes my problem.

I flush and feel a wave of relief when I see it disappear without a struggle. Of course, that then begs the question: what was it doing there in the first place? No matter. I’m just glad to have it gone so I can pee and get out of there.

When I walk back to the kitchen, I’m pretty sure I look shell-shocked, because when one of the women says, “All cleaned up?” it takes me a minute to realize she’s talking about my boots. I nod, thinking, “If only you knew.”

And maybe it’s because I’ve encountered two different forms of excrement within ten minutes of entering the home, but I’m starting to feel a bit queasy about eating dinner there. It doesn’t help that our host’s eight year old daughter is leaning over the salad bowl to toss it, the ends of her hair touching the lettuce.

Remember the scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation, where Chevy Chase’s cousin’s daughter is stirring the KoolAid pitcher with her arm instead of a spoon? Yeah, it’s like that.

To keep from rambling, I’ll ask you to use your imagination to figure out how dirty underwear, wigs and piranhas presented themselves as the evening went on. But let me assure you: they all made an appearance.

The morale of the story? I think McDonald’s said it best when they launched the McDLT: Keep your hot side hot, and your cool side cool. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to mix.