Battle Scars: Running the Winn-Dixie Obstacle Course
So, every year, Winn-Dixie throws its employees a picnic and calls it Associate Appreciation Day. They have vendors come in and give out tons of free stuff. Pepsi and Coke show up and give out cans and bottles of free soda. Sometimes they even give out test flavors. Last year we got to try Squirt Citrus Power before it hit the shelves earlier this year.
At these picnics, Winn-Dixie will organize events that we, as employees, will participate in. One year they had a tri-sport challenge where you threw a football, shot a basketball and kicked a soccer ball to win prizes. Another year they organized a “Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Idol” karaoke contest. Usually management organizes their groups into teams and watches us compete. Days before this event, these managers will start smack talking each other saying their department will win this, other departments are scared of their team, etc, etc. It’s like the Associate Appreciation Day events are the equivalent of the “Coliseum Games” in Rome. We employees are the gladiators, the CEO and management team are the Emperor and Senate. The employees team up and compete in the “games”, trying to outdo each other and entertain management while they gorge themselves on food and drink. It’s fun for all.
This year there were several events and collectively it was called the Winn-Dixie Olympics. I competed in two events; the tug-of-war and the obstacle course. The tug-of-war almost became a blog article in and of itself. Our team won 2 matches then was told we were eliminated because we didn’t beat our opponents quick enough. I didn’t realize there was a time restriction. We dispatched our first opponent in just over 7 seconds. The second one took a little longer but not much more than 12 seconds. We were all a little ticked that a team that went 2-0 was being eliminated. Come to find out later, we actually did win the Gold in that event. I don’t know who fell asleep at the wheel, but I’m glad they finally recognized. IT PeopleSoft came to REPRESENT, yo. Here’s the winning tug-of-war team:
Debi was filming many of the events and she got our tug-of-war victories on video and posted them to YouTube. The first match is here and our second victory can be found here. I am the lead guy on the rope with the red undershirt.
Do you recognize the team t-shirt? You should. It was scanned directly from a sketch I did a few months ago. I wrote about it in the blog article here. The rest of the people on the Peoplesoft technical support team got together (spear-headed by Debi Wilson and Gina Ancira) and had my sketch scanned from Debi’s journal and made into a t-shirt (without telling me). They then all wore the shirt one Friday and all showed up at my cube and presented one to me. I was so surprised. Very cool. I can’t thank the team enough for doing that (SHOUT OUT: Winn-Dixie PeopleSoft Financials and HR tech support!!!). Anyway, so we had these kick ass shirts I designed sitting around and we decided to use them as our team shirt. Old Skool not only referred to the removable data disk that’s on the shirt, but to the type of ass kicking we would be delivering to the other departments in the company. The tug-of-war team was the first cog in the ass kicking machine that was Katz’s Kats (I didn’t come up with that name). I believe Danny and Mike got to the finals in the balloon toss. So things were moving along like gangbusters, that is, until…the obstacle course.
What can I say about the obstacle course? It looked easy enough. Here’s a pic of the unassuming inflatable course.
I thought, “I’m in pretty good shape, this is going to be simple. Obstacle course, prepare to be my bitch”. However, as Luke Skywalker says to the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, “Overconfidence is your weakness.”
I was supposed to run this course earlier in the day. However, since the tug-of-war team made it to the “finals”, I missed my time. Later on it would start raining and they would periodically shut it down. I wouldn’t be able to get my run in until almost 2pm, which is when the whole thing ended. And at that point, the obstacle course was slick with dirt and grime and rainwater. i also was stuffed full of barbeque and soda having just eating lunch. Completely ignoring these signs of impending doom, I asked the moderator if I could have a trial run. He let me and I took my first run. As I figured, I ran the course without much problem. The only part that concerned me was the end. You have to jump up and climb a steeper-than-it-looks incline and jump over to the other side to finish. However, this incline wasn’t a problem getting over on my trial run. When I got off, I was ready and confident that this obstacle course was about to be re-named Mrs. Holley.
Debi was with me and didn’t bother to record my trial run, as it didn’t count. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish she had recorded it. However, she did record my timed second run. And here’s how it went.
Not very well, as you can see. What I should have done is wait ten minutes or so before I did my second run. I expended all my energy on the trial run and had nothing left in the tank for my second run. As you can see in the beginning I tore through the first part, the problem comes when I hit the wall, literally and figuratively. I got to the top, holding onto the rope, and I immediately knew I didn’t have the strength to toss my sorry ass over the incline. But I tried anyway and didn’t make it. That first miss completely sapped whatever energy reserves I had and hence you see the second botched attempt. Pathetic. I was lucky I even made it over on the third. You can see, on the third try, how I almost fall again at the very top, but I catch it at the last moment. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t made it over that last time. I would’ve had to quit Winn-Dixie and move out of town. So embarrassing. Here I am walking away from the obstacle course, a lesser man.
I should go ahead and change my name to Mr Obstacle Course. Paxton Obstacle Course. Because that unforgiving, inflatable monstrosity behind me now owns me (or, more to the point, it PWNS me). Until next company picnic. Then all bets are off. There will be a reckoning. I assure you this.
To add to my insult, I had to call in sick the next day because I apparently overextended my shoulder running the course. I had so much pain moving my left shoulder I could barely sleep that night, which is lucky because my sleep would probably have been filled with nightmares of a giant yellow, obstacle course having its way with me. I would have been waking up screaming, drenched in sweat regardless.
Debi posted the video of what is now known as “Agony of Defeat” on YouTube and it quickly made the rounds at Winn-Dixie. My pain, on permanent display. That’s okay, because it’s just fuel. Fuel for the next time Obstacle Course and I meet. A month before next year’s picnic I’ll rent my own obstacle course and put it in my backyard. I’ll run that course every night for a month until I own it. People will walk by and wonder why the hell Holley has a giant inflatable obstacle course in his backyard? Is he crazy?
Yes I am. Crazy like a fox.