Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Team Building Exercise goes horribly wrong

Adelaide 500 Trip, 18-20th March

There's no complaining about a job where the boss actually suggests a (ahem) "business" trip to Adelaide for the Clipsal 500. As an ex-pat Adelaidean I relished the chance to show some Mexicans around the bee-uu-tiful City of Churches. I stayed at Mum and Dad's place in the Hills to save the accommodation budget. I must really love them because the boys stayed at a beachfront apartment at Glenelg. Glenelg is a world famous beach. And if it isn't, it should be.

It took some explaining to the interstaters that the question "how far is that?" will always be answered "about 20 minutes". Everything is 20 minutes away. The airport, the hotel, the city centre, the hills, my mate's place in Prospect, the best pub...

Just face it- Adelaide is beautiful...

Joining us on Saturday was our German friend Jana who had just bushwalked 70 km in New Zealand. She correctly assessed that Adelaide would be a good place for a rest. Since I had been talking the place up for the last year I was anxious she'd like it. No problems there. Her day began playing beach volleyball with the men's hockey team she met on the plane. Seriously.

What a beach

We, meanwhile, were quite happy sitting in a sun-soaked grandstand developing our professional teamwork by watching loud, smelly facsimiles of familiar Australian road cars going around very fast and occasionally crashing into concrete walls. As a motorsport aficionado (that means expert) I made the mistake of trying to explain to the tribes that, yes, I'm sure Ford vs Holden is the greatest rivalry on the planet but they aren't really Fords and Holdens, in fact they bear little technical or practical resemblance to the road cars which are all crappy anyway and who the hell am I talking to nobody is listening...

Besides, it has nothing to do with work.

We then discussed conflict resolution over some alcohol at the cosmopolitan strip of Jetty Road, at gorgeous Glenelg. So far, this business trip was proving quite productive, right down to the fact that we had a visiting German consultant on European cost management and financial controlling. Although we had to keep rescuing her from attentive people who weren't in our group. In fact, I don't even think they were talking about work. How rude.

The rest of Saturday night is missing from my film reel. Oh well, so long as nobody tells me later that I was standing naked in a fountain shouting something about SA defence contracts. Any night without being hit in the face by a vodka bottle is a good night...

(the Boss)- Stop acting like you're at work

Sunday was quite spectacular. For some reason, my mother, of all people, has begun fraternising with influencial motorsport people. Not fair. That's my domain. I mean, you never saw me making friends with Dame Joan Sutherland or Marlene Dietrich did you mummy dear?? So what the hell gives you the right to.....(sorry). Anyhoo, thanks to her acquaintances I was admitted, rather gleefully, as a guest of Team Dynamik in the V8 Supercar Garage. The German tourist, er, consultant, joined me as we picked up some tips on team building, control management techniques and saw inside a racing car and met some famous people and...and...and...!! My friend was reasonably excited even though she didn't know who anybody was. (Sigh) I even had to point out Williams BMW F1 driver Antonio Pizzonia. Aussie Touring Car ace and Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst was very chatty and wrote down his phone number, but since she thought he was "just a mechanic" she threw it in the bin. I later explained who he was. The last I saw of Jana she was rifling through the team's garbage.

We then bumped into Craig McLaughlin and Natalie Bassingthwaite (from Neighbours. She plays the evil, manipulative Izzy who lured Doctor Carl from Susan and is now staving off attention from the even more evil Paul Robinson, who is....hang on, I can't possibly know all of this. I don't watch Neighbours...just ignore everything within these parentheses) and they cheerily had their photo taken with Jana who, by doing so, lowered her normally high Germanic IQ by around 40%. Really, I don't much care for soaps.

That Izzy though...she's such a bitch. And I said it to her face too, I did.

You, on the left...I'll NEVER forgive you for what you did to Dr. Carl and Susan. And you, on the right..I'll NEVER forgive you for Check 1-2...

Meanwhile, the Boss and his cohorts were happily sunning themselves on carnage corner watching carnage. But mainly they were researching the disturbing emergence of sexual harrassment in the workplace. The research consisted of simulating unwanted advances towards single young women then studying the responses.

Apparently there was a race on which was won by a car that looks like the car I drive, except it wasn't a station wagon. Later that night we were pleased to see that our return flight to Melbourne was inhabited mainly by drivers and teams. Unfortunately our flight was delayed by two hours because the pilot lost his keys in Melbourne and they had to fly another plane down from Syndey. I am sure we departed after curfew when the pilot got lost on the taxiways. Having once worked there, I am rather intimate with the taxiways at Adelaide Airport. I hoped that this pilot has never to taxi around Heathrow or Frankfurt. There, the driveway to the airline catering building is more complex than Adelaide Airport runways. Getting lost on the Adelaide Airport taxiways is not something you would put on your CV.

At half past midnight we stood at the Tullamarine baggage caroussel talking to extremely tired but surprisingly chatty V8 Supercar drivers. Cameron McConville noted that there were probably a few teams on the earlier Virgin flight that will no doubt be laughing at us right now.

At this point we realised, to our horror, that all of the professional development that was painstakingly laboured upon in the previous 48 hours was forgotten. So, hopefully, there will be another business trip next year. Maybe Bathurst. Enough blab. Time for some more piccys.

Hey fellow tourist...everybody seems to be looking at something

Ambrose the Ford Messiah. Like all leading V8 Supercar drivers- giving hope to all those fans who actually think that the race cars are basically the same as the one parked in their driveway. Whatever...

Garth Tander, who dribbled slowly around the fastest corner on the track and then wondered why someone hit him. Ya tosser....

Should I mention to Antonio that a German pinched his drive at Williams BMW..?

Oh NOWWW you're smiling, now that you know he's a rich race driver and all that...

Is that the sway bar adjustment? No wait...shock rebound? No wait...brake's an esky...

Really I didn't just pose with race cars for status photos. I did talk to some important people about technical stuff like grip levels, tyre temperatures, chassis tuning and aww, what the heck who am I kidding this is sooo cooool! Thanks Mum!!!

Seriously Antonio you really should be in Malaysia, since there's a GP on and all that and you are employed by an F1 team- why don't you ever listen to me??

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