I rushed into the office at five after seven, pealed off a layer or three, and joined my coworkers in the conference room. A few minutes later, my boss escorted a black, double-breasted power suit into the room. Chris (my boss) introduced him as "Eric" and said he'd be the host of our "experience", then elaborated further by saying that Eric's company was our newest client. They had engineered a program guaranteed to build group unity. There was only one other program like it in the world. Based in Virgina, it had a two-year waiting list. We were to be the guinea pigs in its sister Salt Lake program. He then handed the proverbial conch shell to Eric the Suit.
Eric introduced himself as having grown up in South Jordan and graduating from the U. After graduation, he was profiled by the FBI and had spent the last ten years working for them as a field agent primarily based in Russia where he had worked undercover with the Russian mafia. He had recently taken a leave of absence as his partner had been shot. Funds from this program would go towards supporting his disabled partner and his partner's family.
Eric then proceeded to tell us that the vast majority of crime in the world stems from mistrust. For example, you can't trust where your money has been. "Seventy percent of paper money has traces of cocaine on it. SEVENTY PERCENT," he said. Therefore, to create unity, trust was the essential element. We would be spending all day and much of the evening participating in activities to build trust. Our experience would include trusting each other as we:
- Ate exotic and possible dangerous foods
- Shot a variety of weapons
- Practiced team formation
- Drove vehicles on a closed course
- Participated in an urban warfare simulation
- Thorougly exhausted ourselves
He then directed us all to a waiting car and told us we would be traveling to west West Valley (the best "ghetto" he could find in the Salt Lake area) to await further instructions. He would meet up with us later.
So into the white van we got (very 24), and drove to a designated parking lot in the warehouse district where we waited for intructions. After about ten minutes, all our cell phones went off at the same time with text messages that read, "Mission compromised! Abort." My boss, Mike, then got a text telling us to check the trunk. In it, we found a large cardboard that read, "TOP SECRET. OPEN ONLY WHEN INSTRUCTED", he didn't wait to be instructed, but tore the lid right off. Inside, there were t-shirts that read, "TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE 2007" and hoodies with our company logo on them (surprise, surprise). There was also a white envelope with our names printed on the outside for each of us. Inside, was $50 and a boarding pass...
... to Long Beach Airport.
"Psyche!" yelled the bosses in unison. "We're really going to Disneyland. Now hurry, get in the car, we're gonna miss our flight!"
We raced to the airport amidst a flurry of questions and answers:
- "Wait, we're really going to Disneyland?" "Yes."
- "Who was that guy then?" "Some guy from my ward."
- "Does he really work for the F.B.I.?" "No."
- "Good. I was really worried about the US Government." "Uh...that's not a question."
- "Do you think there's cocaine on this $50 bill?" "..."
So off to Disneyland we went, one cameraman/women and the rest of us walking three by three in perfect syzygy with our matching shirts. Of course, it rained almost the entire time, so we also wore matching ponchos ): But there were negative percent lines (: Of course, the rain delayed our flight an hour-and-a-half so I got home at 3 a.m. ): But we ate at a fantastic Korean restaurant with a grill right at our table for hand warming (:
Oh yeah, and did I mention we spent the day at DISNEYLAND!?!?!
And wouldn't you know it, we still did everything Eric said we would.