Sunday, September 08, 2013

The really, really big show
I don't know what to say about the all day team building staff meeting at the fancy gym because I can't decide whether it was a sincere, sweet effort to bring a squad of people together to do what nobody else in Italy is doing or whether it was the worst attempt at brainwashing, manipulation and ass kissing the world has ever seen.

"CONFIDENTIAL." (I won't let this gentle reminder/warning/very real threat stop me from telling you what went down, don't worry.)
We met about a block from my house and then walked about three feet, much to my surprise, to the Giglio theater where the city's best concerts and performances are given. As we walked down the aisles to our seats, Andrea Bocelli was singing in grand style on the movie reel projected on the enormous screen in front of us.

The gym owner gave a two and a half hour opening speech and then we had a bathroom break which was followed by another speech that lasted another hour or so and then we had lunch. My entire life passed before my eyes as I was thrown buzz words, quotations, and curve balls. I have one friend named Manuela who cleans the gym and who I think is married to this guy Domingo who does gardening, repairs, and cleaning and who may also be one of the partners of the gym. I give her a massage once a week and we chat. She held hands with me and let me sit next to her -- absolutely the sweetest thing ever. The speeches and video presentations were filled with those little pillsbury dough boy/robot figurines in various positions and colors to represent excellence, hope, optimism, dispair etc. Tne image that I cannot burn from my memory much as I try is of the little faceless white guy eating his own heart out. Our big boss, the gym owner, told us that this was an image of how he feels. It was like seeing your father, if you are part of the cast of a 1950s family situation comedy and have one of those seemingly stoic but cheery tv fathers, cry for the first time. It was yucky. He said that everyone thinks he is a hard-ass business man, but that really he needs tenderness. Again, maybe that is really sweet or maybe I need a bucket in which to barf.

After lunch, which was a buffet served by waiters in black uniforms in the theater lobby, each sector was called to the stage one at a time. My coworkers, some of whom were wiping back tears and shaking with nerves, giggles or emotion, made speeches that were very reminiscent of those at a high school graduation. They got worse and worse as time went on. Those who were unprepared or not used to public speaking were inaudible so no one in my row heard about 75% of what was said over those next two hours, and we just kind of guessed when it was time to clap. Even though were were all standing up there at the stage together the fitness people talked during each other's speeches which bothered no one except me, apparently. It was seven thousand degrees in the theater since the air conditioning was not turned on. Manuela and I sanctified our friendship by having the same migraine headache by the time it was all said and done.
Some of us were commended for our great performances and others, like me, were indirectly questioned about our selfish quest to earn money for ourselves and not looking at the needs of the greater good.

Don't cry, Mr. gym owner. I didn't mean it when I said all my colleagues were hateful shrews. Only some of them are hateful shrews.

By the way, I still didn't get the balls for this week's class.

Disturbing, isn't it?

I mean, really disturbing.

I might exercise all day long. But it still makes me want to do this.

No fancy gym event can go without a photo montage paired with sappy music in the background because we LOVE to look at ourselves. Of course no photo montage is complete without that photo of me in my beige long underwear looking bloated next to all of my pretty coworkers. They also put in a picture labeled K's Family of the three of us at that aperitivo I dragged everyone to and another of me alone when I was posing for a photo shoot labeled Welcome K, both of which made me feel guilty for all of the evil thoughts I can't seem to shake. Honestly, I do love everyone that works in the kitchen or cleans or does marketing even, it is really only the fitness people who have a way of making me feel horrible. . . Anyway, at the end we all got 30th anniversary t-shirts which we will have to wear to the closing event at the end of the week, which is also my day off, in theory, although I will be spending it with my fellow cult members doing what we do.

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