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Tipsy Otis Says:

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up

I’m on my way to work, but today instead of the required button down shirt, khakis, and a tie I’m wearing ratty shorts and a Husker Du tee shirt.  Am I a rebel?  No, today is team building day, when the whole office heads to an outdoor team building facility where professional team building dudes make us play games and force us to have fun.  In front of the office there is a bus to corral and transport us public transportation losers out to the event.

I’ve been with the company for four years.  This is my fourth team building day.  I look around the bus at my smiling coworkers cheerfully anticipating their break in the drudgery.  I know tomorrow we will return to being miserable drones wondering what the fuck we are doing here.

I remember in elementary school they brought the high school’s guidance counselor in to speak to the class.  They wanted to get the children thinking early of all the career possibilities available to us as adults.  The counselor would point to each student and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.  There were several firemen, doctors, teachers, and a fighter pilot.  When he got to me I said, “How the fuck do I know, I’m nine.”…….(Hello, Mrs. Otis? We have your son in the principal’s office, we need you to come in for a chat.)

At the facility they immediately immerse us into team building games.  There were giant lawn puzzles, relay races, and bean bag tossing.  Although the facility had a great food spread, for liability purposes they didn’t serve alcohol.  Because of this a handful of employees spent the better part of the day in the parking lot drinking beer out of a car trunk.

I decided to check out the scene in the lot and perhaps snag a brew.  Moments after arriving, Barry, one of the mail room dudes, comes running over all excited, “I swiped a half gallon of orange drink from the table.  We can make screwdrivers!”


He mixed the orange Sunny D wannabe liquid with warm vodka from his car while laying some knowledge on us.  “You know why they named this a screwdriver?” he asked, not waiting for anyone to respond, “Because back during prohibition workers would sneak vodka into their O.J. and stir it with their hand tools. “, he nods his head, proud of his trivia acumen. “Anybody?” he gestures to the small crowd who were all content with their cold beer.

Later Barry would be in the three legged race with Bossman and puke in the middle of the soccer field.  This was especially distressing to Bossman would had hoped a victory in the race would make up for dropping a game winning pass in the high school championship football game thirty years earlier.

Soon the day wrapped up with speeches, cheesy awards, and promises from the brass of better communication with all employees.  There was a smattering of

applause, like a golf clap for an easy putt on the 3rd green of a minor PGA tournament.  Then everyone headed toward the buses or their cars.

On the way home the bus crowd is more subdued.  They know tomorrow it is back to clock watching and trying desperately to make it to five o’clock while chasing the idea that they are wasting their life from their minds.


We power through and dispatch our days like we are mindlessly devouring a giant bag of potato chips.  Never stopping to savor each individual chip but shoving handfuls in our mouths and restocking our greasy fingers before we even swallow. I wonder if things would be different if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.


After getting off the bus I figured I’d go to my favorite watering hole to maintain my parking lot buzz.


I was happy to see a light crowd at the Portal.  I threw myself into a barstool.  Chloe gives me a nod to elicit my drink order. 


“Oh, I think we’ll start with a screwdriver”.  My random choice of cocktails no longer fazes her. With my elbows on the bar I slowly combed my fingers through my hair and let out a sigh.  Looking over she asks, “Rough day?”


I smile mostly because I was happy to be here, at least for this moment I know where I want to be.


“No”, I reply, “more enlightening”. 

Her eyebrows slightly furrowed in curiosity I continue, “Ya see, today I realized I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”


“Ahhh,” she replies, pretending to understand.

She put the drink in front of me, “So Chlo-meister” , I ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. 

She shrugs and says, “Happy?”

I let out a soft chuckle, laughing more at myself than her.   I hadn’t even thought of that.

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