Work and play don’t mix. But that doesn’t stop your overlords from trying. Outbound fun they call it. Predictable logos and free-size t-shirts are made. And very quietly, it is mentioned that participation is not voluntary. Everything else seems to be, voluntary i.e. From the menu to the venue. So you, the cubicle mice, have the freedom to decide. These are like all freedoms that are given away without asking, inconsequential. The agenda is classified, sort of. Not many give a hoot. But most are able to fake it. Yet; all the manufactured enthusiasm in the world can’t come up with one original idea. Which is why Head Slave does the only thing left to do. Incentivize. ‘Surprise Gifts’ are announced for suggesting innovative lodging, boarding and catering. Between not too much fun and not too much cost, there aren’t many places left. You can’t for the life in you think of a place that is new and can pass off as fun-come-work. One sign that you have been around for too long is when waiters at hotels start recognizing you.
‘The gifts are not working, just come up with a damn place,’ Head Slave tells you in his cabin.
‘What is the gift?’ You ask to make conversation.
‘Just book a new place so people are not switched off before coming,’ he says entrusting you with the inside job.
‘It isn’t coupons again, is it?’ you express your concern.
‘Just get it done, I will personally handpick your gift,’ HS tells you.
You have reached a comfort level with the man, which is scary.
You decide on a new ‘Adventure Sports’ place up in the hills. Their website tries very hard to look casual before getting in to the Corporate Discounts section.
Post three days of zorbing, ‘team building exercises’ and compliance training, everyone is moderately satisfied. It is a mixed feeling, like the one you get at the end of every month. True to his word, HS hands over a gift to you. It truly looks like his choice. It is a vase, sort of. It is unnecessarily ornate and has a red pearl at its centre which looks like an evil eye. Actually, there are two evil eyes, one on top of the other. It could easily pass off as Mogambo’s head gear but not a vase. You don’t take it home, you can’t. But you don’t throw it away either. It stays on your desk to remind you that work and play don’t mix. Forcing them to would be like marrying science and religion, inconsequential.