Monday, August 27, 2007

There's no "eye" in "team"

The PanthiOn Corporation credo was repeated at every team-building excursion: "Business is war!" shouted senior manager Ted Jacks. He stood upon a picnic table outside the registration office of Patriot Games Paintball Compound, dressed in military fatigues and combat boots. His face was streaked with camouflage paint. He gripped his marker—paintball gun—by the barrel with his right hand, gesturing with it as he spoke. "If you cannot perform under these controlled conditions, how in the fuck will you perform at PanthiOn when one of our competitors throws a Chinese star at your face? You'll wilt and shit your pants, that's what you'll do!"

He surveyed his twelve-member staff with a predatory gaze. They were soft, recent college graduates.

"Many of you have never tasted blood," Ted yelled. "I'll give you your first taste, and teach you to love—!" He punctuated the word "love" by jabbing the butt of his marker toward the picnic table, accidentally striking the table, causing the marker to fire. If Ted had had the barrel condom affixed to his marker—as per Patriot Games Paintball Compound rules—the misfire might have actually accentuated his point. But Ted did not have it affixed. The marker was inadvertently angled so that the paintball caught him in the side of his right eye, streaking his camouflaged face, brow and forehead with fuschia paint.

As Ted crumpled to the top of the picnic table, and rolled onto the ground, a dozen cell phones were simultaneously pulled from hip holsters; dexterous thumbs dialed 911 with gunslinger speed.

Ted was conscious when he was taken away by paramedics. "You are to continue with the day's combat," he groaned as he was loaded into the ambulance. "That's an order!"

After four surgeries by four of the best "eye men" in the region, Ted lost his right eye. The loss affected him badly until he realized he could now legitimately wear a black eye patch. Visualizing himself leading business meetings dressed in a three thousand dollar suit and a black eye patch actually roused a smile on his swollen, post-op face. That smile faltered, however, when Ted returned to the office weeks later—a lawsuit against Patriot Games Paintball Compound, well underway, as well as against the manufacturer of the paintball marker, the manufacturer of the fushia paintball and even the manufacturer of the picnic table—wearing a thousand dollar suit and an opaque eye patch. For, written across the white board with red erasable marker in the area flex room, was a bastardization of PanthiOn's other credo: "There is no 'eye' in Team!"

Days were spent taking handwriting samples from the staff and conducting interviews to learn who was in the flex room when the offense took place. So far, the culprit was never caught.

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