Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Real Life Episode of "The Office"

This is not a "Great American Lies" post. I just have a funny story to share. From time to time I help my Aunt Jo with catering jobs. It pays a little extra spending money and is typically quite entertaining. People are fun to watch when they don't think they are being watched and usually, they don't consider "the help" as watching.

Yesterday I helped Jo cater a corporate lunch. It doesn't matter what company or where because I'm sure this kind of thing happens all over the place. Apparently this company has integrated a new manufacturing process and improved their efficiency enough to win a bronze award. To celebrate, they bought everyone a steak lunch (60 people, over $3,000--must be nice award--can't wait to help with the silver and gold award dinners!!). The whole time I was there I just kept thinking that it was a real life "The Office" episode.

When I came in they were already eating. There were engineer type people all the way down to the worker bees. There was the one incredibly LOUD guy that was telling off color jokes. There was the older lady that didn't eat her steak but instead went and got a paper towel, wrapped up the steak and stuffed it in her pocket (no lie). I spent the next 30 minutes or so refilling tea and water. Then the "program" started. Up first-- a really lousy PA system playing some obscure AC/DC song repeatedly screaming "Are YOU READYYYY!!!". Then comes the faux enthusiastic manager doing a really poor job imitating a boxer entering the ring. Remember, all of this is in a cafeteria type room... At this point I glance around the room. There is a middle aged woman who has taken the table decorations and stuck the fake poinsettas in her hair. Then the manager grabs the microphone and says, "Ok, all right, are you ready! Are you ready to work toward SILVER!!!!! (remember they won bronze). I almost choked on my laughter at this point but I kept composed because I didn't want to miss anything.

The manager then spends 10 minutes recapping their long journey (this word was used ad nauseum) to this point. He thanked people by name with each one giving the requisite head nod at the recognition. Then he introduced his boss (who must not be actually at that plant on a regular basis). The boss comes up and has a VERY thick foreign accent. I don't have a problem with that and I understood most of what he said. However, I saw a LOT of the workers whispering to each other and laughing. Obviously very effective. Then came the representative from a customer company giving them accolades and telling them how much more business they will get. Then came the corporate lady that helped implement the system. She actually started her speech with "I didn't want to cry but I knew I would. I am so proud of you all!" Then she took out a folded piece of paper and read her speech that was more like a sonnet--complete with some rhymed couplets. No lie. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing.

The next part solidified "The Office" feel. Another member of management that had a striking resemblance to the Lewis Black character in "Accepted" reminds the group of the song he wrote. I nearly got giddy at this point. After a lot of technical difficulty, the song started playing. He had written and recorded a song about lean manufacturing. The song had a very 80s feel to it with a TON of synthesizers and distorted voices and the like. It had a definite Thomas Dolby and The Cars feel to it. To make matters worse (or maybe better) he stood in front of these 60 people and lip synced/air guitared the song. He even had a few back up dancers come join him up front. Again, no lie. I couldn't believe what I was watching. Looking around the room it appeared that the workers had actually invented a dance to go with the song as there were probably 15 people doing a nearly perfectly synchronized dance. I wanted to take video so badly but I figured that would be illegal or at least unethical.

The conclusion of the presentation was to hand out awards and a token of appreciation to each person. The token was a really nice looking wind breaker type pull over jacket. The first manager got up and made this presentation and felt it necessary to try and remember each person's nickname. My favorite was the guy called "Big Show" who made a guttaral, barbaric yawp of a "YEAHHHH" when he got up. Funniest part of it, he was probably 5'6" and about 140 pounds--"Big Show".

Anyway, I know it is important to motivate workers however you can. I get that. I know that putting a little cheese in the work place is good for morale. For an outsider though, it is pure comic fodder. God bless these people for their efforts. I love the USA.

1 comment:

Lindsay M said...

Yep....very much the Office. Great story...wish it had a video to accompany it. ;-)

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