Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Part Seven: She goes to work for a team-building exercise

"But she can't help herself. She needs us. She needs me." Katie took a few steps towards her mother. "Can't you see that?"

"What I see is that you are delusional about yet another aspect of your life, dear. Please just let this one go."

"I can't."

"Fine." They stared at one another for a long while. Finally, her mother smiled this bright, wide smile. "Shall I wrap up the leftover chicken for you to take home?"


Sunlight came crashing into Katie's bedroom far earlier than anyone should experience on a Saturday morning. She'd forgotten to close the curtains the night before, and the sun was so bright it blazed a trail through the room and landed right in her eyes.

"Man...." Katie pulled her red-and-white-checked duvet up over her head (she'd bought the duvet online, thinking in the photo it looked fun, cheerful, like the table cloth at a picnic or an Italian bistro. The trouble was that when it arrived in the mail and she spread it out over her Queen sized bed, she realized that it looked like the table cloth at a picnic or an Italian bistro -- cheerful? Certainly. But also absurd) and burrowed deeper into her pillows (they also had matching pillow cases that she'd bought on the website, as well. These were plain red, thank goodness. If she'd opted for the checked version she was pretty sure she'd have gone crazy by now, driven mad by her picnic-themed bedding).

And then the alarm went off. This was also an unusual event for a Saturday, but Katie knew for her that this wasn't really Saturday. This was Improv Day.

Apparently, once a year the advertising firm organized some sort of team-building exercise. One year it was First Aid (actually useful, with real-world applications), one year it was a canoe trip (complete with an after-canoe beach bonfire with catered snacks), and one year it was Make Your Own Wine (though it was over three years ago, they were still trotting out bottles of Grape Works of Art--from the Graphics team--and Nectar of the Gods--upper management's contribution--at staff parties). Katie liked the sound of all of those.

What she didn't like was the sound of Improv.

She'd only been with the company for a short while when she got the memo. It had come in an email, and she'd actually thought it was one of her team playing a joke on her. Sort of like a hazing ritual.

Never say no! Listen to your colleagues! No idea is a bad idea! Respect the process! Trust in others! No one left behind!

These are the rules of Improv acting. Why aren't they the rules of your daily life at work? We're going to spend a few hours together learning the basics of Improv and discover how to apply the theories of this ancient art form to our jobs. This innovative workshop will be led by qualified Improv instructors from Improfessionals. Lunch will follow.

Katie had stared at the email. Ancient art form? Improv professionals? Katie had seen a few episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway. She knew that this email had to be a joke.

But here she was, mere months later, waking up at 7am on a Saturday to attend a four-hour Improv class with her colleagues. As if her life couldn't get any more enviable.

A quick shower, then a trip down her basement stairs to check out the leaks (her nickname for her basement was Sieve) and to rotate the dehumidifier so that it faced the biggest puddle. She put on a load of laundry, grabbed a couple of granola bars, and was out the door before she could change her mind and crawl back into her cozy bed.

She was settled on the street car when her phone beeped. It was a text from her mother. KT. I am srrie u left inn such a her-ee. I get upset abut yer sister. luv mum (Katie's mother had not yet mastered the art of texting shorthand).

Katie sighed. She was sorry, too. Anne was such a touchy subject for all of them. Her father wouldn't even acknowledge Jason or Jonah. It was as though he was trying to pretend none of it had ever happened. It's okay. Don't worry. We'll figure this out. Katie texted back (using full words to show her mother that texting with real language was okay, too). I am going to work. We can talk later, she wrote another text, and then wondered, after she'd sent it, if they really would talk later. She didn't think it very likely.

"Katherine. Do you mind...?" Katie looked up and saw Don Juan standing beside her seat, gesturing as though he'd like to sit down. Damn! She wasn't ready! Katherine wasn't available yet -- Katie hadn't had any coffee. But what could she do?

"Sure!" she said, and pulled herself up into a less-slouchy position. Great. She had 30 minutes left to go before she got to the office. What the hell would they talk about for 30 minutes?

"I'm glad to have caught you," Don Juan said, as he slid into the seat. "I really haven't been able to spend any time with you since you started with us. This ride will give us a good chance to get to know one another." He gave her a wide, old-man-sexy smile. "For instance -- do you enjoy your work?"

"Err..." Katie felt trapped. Her back pushed against the seat and her feet were pressing hard into the floor, but the streetcar wouldn't give. She was trapped. She was about to answer something about the "challenges" of the work, when her phone beeped again. "Excuse me," she said to Don Juan, and glanced at her phone, expecting a message from her mother or maybe from her aunt Angela, who was in Spain on some sort of pilgrimage and was sending out mass emails every couple of days about the "inspiring landscape and kind-hearted Spaniards who'd made such peace with their Moorish ancestry" -- seriously, that was one of her email's subject lines.

But it wasn't her remorseful, overly-emotional mother or her determined, eccentric aunt. It was from Melissa. Am at Eggstacy for brkfst. and NICK is here. Come Now! We'll all go to wrkshp tgthr.

Nick. Nick Rossi was definitely the best-looking accountant that she'd ever seen. (Not that she'd seen many accountants, of course). She'd only ever spoken to him in the elevator, and she knew he wasn't into Melissa, because she'd asked him out and he'd said, no, that she was cool but no thanks. But he couldn't be gay or against dating in the office because he'd had a pretty serious romance with this woman who'd worked in accounting a few years ago. Or so he rumours went.  AND he'd once told Katie he thought she had pretty cool dress sense. And she was pretty sure he wasn't being sarcastic.

"Important message?" Don Juan asked. Katie jumped a little. She'd forgotten about him. "From the look on your face I'd say it's good news?"


Does Katie stay on the streetcar and schmooze with the boss
Does Katie make her excuses and get off the streetcar so she can meet up with Melissa and Nick?

You decide!


  1. Breakfast definitely!

  2. Shit! I missed the last episode and the subsequent choice and given the 'melissa and nick, melissa and nick' ad nauseum above i'm sure we're already off on an unfortunate tangent(duh! yourself) What the hell is Don Juan doing on the streetcar? Breakfast seems like a yawn. The maybe gay guy pretty boy potential ... what? romantic interest? New BFF? cereal killer? (yes its a bad pun) Stay the course, stay on the streetcar not named desire.
    (oh and its fun being part of the real life that some of the fictional life comes from. hee hee)

  3. Don Juan--do you need reasons? All the above work for me, plus not coming to breakfast could make Katie more intriguing to Nick.