Thursday, January 17, 2013

Champion of the Smithsonian

Earlier this week I was in Washington, DC for an annual work event.  We had a large team dinner at the Smithsonian Museum of American History where they divided all of the attendees into 33 teams of 10 or so people for a scavenger hunt.

Most self-respecting adults respond to a scavenger hunt with an eye-roll. Aren’t we too old for this? In a history museum, nonetheless?  I pretended to eye roll too, making the appropriate comments about it being a long day, let’s just get this over with. Secretly inside, I was barely restraining myself from high fiving my new team and shouting “let’s f this sh*t up!”.  I subtly checked out the competition, who looked unfocused and weak in comparison. I had to decide for myself if this was going to be for fun or this was going to be to win.  

So as not to seem completely psycho to my newly met colleagues, I pretended it was for fun while quickly organizing us into the secretary, navigator and researchers, positioning us as a top competitor for a big win.  I even orchestrated finding clues in “innovative ways” (read: Google on the smart phone) to skip parts of the museum that were further away so our search was streamlined to pick up answers as quickly as possible.

While I’d like to take all of the credit for being slyly competitive, I suspect there were a few others on the team who were taking this hunt more seriously than meets the eye. We quickly completed our answers, took a team picture and returned the Official Form to the hunt administrators long before any other team arrived back.  After congratulating ourselves for the next hour on our cunning and speed while the other laggard teams slowly made their way back, the winners were finally announced...

Starting with the 2nd runner up (not us). Whew.  Oh wait, don’t look relieved, this is just for fun.  1st runner up (not us). Whew.  Oh wait, still don’t look relieved, it’s just a good time.  And the winner 24!  My team!  I had to fight my better instincts of jumping up and thrusting my fist into the air!  

We approached the stage to claim our grand prizes. I was a bit dismayed to see the executive who was emcee’ing the evening was not planning to give us time for a short thank you speech. We were the winners, weren’t we? Shouldn’t they should us revery and respect?  I elbowed a teammate and said he should make a quick speech, but he thought I was joking. Chuckle, chuckle of course I wasn’t serious (umm...well, I guess I wasn’t serious since this executive WAS NOT handing over the mic.)

Oh well, I had my grand prize bag in hand and was excited to return to my table to see what loot we earned.  I sat down...pulled back the American history trivia board game.  WTF?!?!   I felt like Ralphie (from A Christmas Story) on Christmas morning as he anxiously waited to unwrap a Red Rider BB gun, only to unwrap hideous pink bunny pajamas.  Where was my Red Rider BB gun? What am I going to do with an American history trivia board game for ages 9+?

Feeling slightly deflated, I did the only thing a true champion can do after winning the challenge. I brought home my proverbial pink bunny pajamas and then bragged about my victory on Facebook to my friends, acquaintances and people I barely remember ever meeting.

What is the morale of this story?  Winning feels good. At any age!

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