Oh, didn’t you know? I’m a life coach now. You’re welcome. That’ll be $50 please.
It’s that time of year again, folks! Time for me to share my favorite movie scene, one that embodies the Thanksgiving Day spirit…or at least the spirit that dwells in my house.
So while I wish you all a truly blessed and happy Thanksgiving, without further adieu, may I introduce Ms. Wednesday Addams… at her best. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you — Addams Family style.
And for those keeping track at home, it’s also Wednesday… even more appropriate, wouldn’t you say!? No? Okay, well, I guess I’m the only one who found that amusing. Fine. Be that way.
That little face though! I can’t even be upset at the news he’s telling.
As I shimmy and shake and sweat during my usual morning routine, I wonder, who needs the gym or the cost of a personal trainer when all I have to do to get a serious aerobic work-out is put on my pantyhose every morning? Come to think of it, there are some complicated yoga moves thrown in to my
dressing ritual fitness regimen as well — I routinely contort myself into impossible positions worthy of a yogi master.
Aerobics, strength exercises, and yoga … hey, I’m nothing if not well-rounded. Ha! See what I did there? Well-rounded! Get it? Because being well-rounded is what necessitates my way-too-early-in-the-morning calisthenics session to begin with … because, I’m round, get it? Oh, never mind.
Once upon a time, kids played innocent video games that had, as their selling point, learning and teachable moments embedded in the fun. LeapFrog was one of these; a creative, book-oriented electronic game whose only purpose was to teach our kids how to count, how to read, and how to sing very annoying songs. My kids were no exception. We leaped with the best frogs.
Next came computer games, like Club Penguin, Toontown, and Jumpstart. These were adorable games where the kids learned to chat in controlled phrases, and they began to experience their first taste of competition. The next logical step was Pokémon and Naruto, where competition, chatting, and teamwork became part of everyday life.
From there, my kids jumped into League of Legends, where the sole purpose of the game was to annihilate other players. Yay, progress.
When my son was living at home, I would hear the muffled thuds, the not-so-muffled thuds, the cursing, the banging, and occasionally the overturned chair coming from the sanctity of his room. I wondered, but no way was I going into a teenage boy’s room alone; God only knows what science projects he had brewing under his bed or in his dirty laundry hamper. It was hard to tell if he needed a new hobby, more practice, or better friends. My daughter wasn’t much better, only her game frustrations were much quieter and spilled out to the dinner table in the form of dirty looks and grumbling.
I went through the usual parental worrying. Do they spend too much time online? Are they secretly chatting with some 60-year-old pervert in a pink tutu in this multi-player game? Do they need to get out and socialize with the real world? And most importantly, will they end up living in my basement into their forties?
Obviously, my kids got their video chops from their cool mom, right? Yeah, not so much. I don’t like video games, they make me anxious and I get stressed when I play. I blame Milton Bradley’s Perfection. While not a video game, it was a battery-operated panic attack. Besides, life is like a video game, with adventures to be found at the grocery store, the freeway, and, occasionally, the kitchen when I try a new recipe.
So, if not me, where did they get this video game aptitude from? Well, look one generation back, and there it is. Thanks, mom.
Oh yes, you read that right. My mom, sweetest lady, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, the picture of innocence. My mom was a pro gamer before gaming was cool.
First it was Atari. That was too easy for her. Asteroids, tennis, and pong? It was like shooting fish in a barrel for my mother. Come to think of it, she had that game too.
The next level of her addiction came with new heroes, courtesy of Sega Genesis. Round, prickly ones named Sonic. Sonic ushered in some of his closest friends, including Zelda, who rode in on the wave that was Super Nintendo. The original Zelda, thank you very much. Kids think they know Zelda, but you’ve never played Zelda until you’ve played it on the original gaming platform, in full glorious side-scrolling wonder with its tinny music and recycled backgrounds.
Then, hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen … along came Mario Brothers. My mother immediately forgot everything else in the world as she threw herself into mastering this game. My family frequently went without eating for days at a time, no clean clothes, up to our ankles in our own game, “Chase the Dust Bunnies.”
Of course, that’s not true, but she was completely obsessed with the game. I still remember when she hit the high score or won the game, whichever the goal was. She left the game on the entire day as proof and if I recall correctly, she took a picture of the tv screen for good measure because she was afraid no one would believe her. I like to think that the birth of my brother and me were the happiest days of her life, but I tell you, I’m not so sure.
Once she conquered the world of supersonic mammals, Italian plumbers, and valiant quests, she went for a more maternal distraction because, apparently, a real family wasn’t enough stress. She went full on geek and got herself a Tamagotchi critter, which I think was a dog. She even took it camping and on vacation, so it wouldn’t die. I have no idea how long it survived, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was years. Hell, she may still have it in a closet somewhere, secretly feeding it and dutifully cleaning up its little digital poops.
I often wonder, does my complete inability to play video games reflect poorly on her? Or did her gaming ability soar straight through my DNA without passing GO and hit my kids squarely in the controllers, picking up power as it went? If that’s the case, then my great-grandchildren will be amazingly gifted… prodigies even.
As for me, I’m still playing the fun video game, “set my car clock for daylight savings time.” It’s been going on for days now. Fall back indeed. Just what the hell did I do with that owner’s manual?
After a recent week’s worth of company training, I thought I would take a moment and give some feedback. Quite frankly, other than the bagels and donuts that so often accompany these events, work place training sessions are a complete waste of time. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Games, role-playing, team answers to ridiculous questions, and worst of all … participation is expected. As a raging introvert, I can think of few other anxiety-inducing events that top a rousing “role playing” or “group participation” session.
Seriously though, I’m hard pressed to say which type of training is the least annoying.
Death by PowerPoint: This involves a computer and a screen. After the inevitable ten minutes of fumbling, the computer operator will have to go find someone to come “fix” the presentation, so the training can proceed. All PowerPoint presentations follow the same path: the first slide is supposed to be amusing, but seldom is. Then, the “class” starts where one person stands robotically reading each slide, point by painful point, sometimes with the help of a laser pointer. When a break is called, people run to the smoking area even though they weren’t smokers when the class started.
The Professional Speaker: Sometimes, you get the privilege of having a guest speaker. This person usually brings their own computer presentation, fumbles with the computer for ten minutes, then goes to find someone to come fix the presentation. The first slide is supposed to be funny…you get the idea.
New Age Co-Op: These training sessions bring emotions into the classroom. You start with trust exercises that involve throwing out your back when your trustworthy coworker gets a text at the same moment they’re supposed to catch you, and end with hugging your coworkers and telling them just what it is about them that is so gosh darned special. Apparently, “You’re special because you’re sleeping with the boss” is not an acceptable comment; I got sent back to my office (which is where I wanted to be in the first place) and banned from participating next year.
Role-Playing: This is an offshoot of the New Age Co-Op training. When you role-play, you may have to play the part of a customer, or maybe a manager if you’re lucky. You are placed in several unrealistic situations and expected to respond appropriately while your coworkers critique your performance. Again, I am banned from participation for a year when, as a “customer,” I overturned three tables and dumped water on Joe from accounting after being told by the “waitress” that they didn’t have unsweetened ice-tea. The people role-playing the police department were very talented… had uniforms, i.d., and everything.
Team Groups: In this training process, you are split into groups and given tough questions to figure out, most often in a “Jeopardy” or “Family Feud” format, because nothing says “team building” quite like pitting coworkers against each other – especially when a $5.00 gas card is involved. Your answers are presented by the “team leader” to the rest of the class. I was in the restroom and came back to find I had been elected team leader in my absence. My aforementioned ban was solidified when I stood up and told my best joke instead. No-one laughed. And I’m freakin’ hilarious.
Don’t get me wrong; training is a very important part of keeping workers up to date on changes and evolving processes within the company. The bad part is that these training sessions could be accomplished in an email thereby saving money, time, and reputations.
Every worker in the world follows the exact same pattern when they have a workplace training session.
- Try to call out sick
- Charge the phone for Facebook browsing and Words with Friends
- Pretend to be in the middle of a project and look very busy in the hopes you will be excused
- Show up as late as you can and take the seat all the way in the back or position yourself nearest the snacks
- Notify your friends to call you frequently so you can excuse yourself because “This is about that big client.”
- Appear to be taking extensive notes when in reality you are drawing cartoons (my personal favorite)
- Nod deeply and agree occasionally so the presenter thinks you are actively engaged
There are, however, a few things that will get you thrown out of work place training. I have compiled a list of my the most effective ones:
- Stand up and yell “hallelujah,” “preach,” and “amen” randomly throughout the session.
- Raise your hand and ask questions about things completely unrelated to your job or the company, such as is the color orange called orange because it’s the color of oranges or are oranges called oranges because they’re orange, OR how do geese know which goose goes first when migrating.
- Sneeze and cough repeatedly; more effective if you bring some type of slime from your kid’s collection and launch it across the room while coughing.
- Write your boss’ name on your name tag and be disruptive.
- Lean back in your chair and toss spitballs at the screen like the moody antagonist in an ’80s John Hughes flick.
- Lick the donuts in front of everyone and put them back.
- Answer your phone loudly and declare, “I don’t care how much money you have invested in this company, I can’t help you! I’m in training!”
In all honesty, work training can be a valuable tool if it is approached correctly. Unfortunately, most companies don’t approach it correctly and the entire process is one that is universally hated. Can I get an Amen?
Grow up, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. No-one will be the boss of you, they whispered. You’ll have the world at your feet, they claimed seductively.
Yeah, well. They lied.
On the plus side, I do get to have cake for dinner and no-one can stop me.