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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Response to a reader's query about my "offsite" trip

I received a question from an anonymous reader about yesterday's post. They asked if the participating employees were paid full time or was this their vacation, and what the sleeping accommodations were like.

I was salaried employee, so I'm not sure if you'd count that as being "paid full time" or not. Obviously, a normal work day is somewhere around 8 to 10 hours long, but I was "on stage" (that is, in "work mode" in terms of behavior) with this off-site from about noon on a Wednesday to around 1 PM on Friday. We did things Wednesday afternoon, all day Thursday, and Friday morning before heading back. It actually went on after that point through lunch on Friday and then a pointless "debriefing" meeting with a VP, but as previously described, I got out of there as soon as the bus stopped in Mountain View and skipped all of that. There was no extra pay for these long days, if that's what you are asking.

This did not count as vacation time. That came from a separate bucket.

Regarding sleeping, this event was held at a location which is nominally a summer camp, so we had a bunch of weird themed cabins. They were supposed to look like part of a 19th century town, complete with a city hall, one room schoolhouse, and so on.

I was assigned the "Car Barn", which looks like this on the outside:

Outside car barn

... and this on the inside:

Inside car barn room

For those who spotted the ceiling fan, in case you're wondering, the answer is yes. That ceiling fan does strike the curtain rod every time it goes around. It also serves as a light source, so if you turn on the switch for light upon entering the room, you will start to hear a "thup-thup-thup" somewhere over your head a few seconds later.

You definitely want some kind of light on the first time you enter this room, since the first thing you encounter upon opening the door is this staircase:


Bonus question for those observant folks: based on the exterior picture, how do you think you get into this "car barn" room? You might be surprised.

Hint: it's not the white door on the right with a four-pane window and a brass knob.

It makes a cute camp, but it leaves a lot to be desired for business travel. They warned us ahead of time that it would not have Internet access, phones, TVs or hair dryers. I was okay with that. I was actually looking forward to being "unplugged" for a little while. The trouble is that they also forgot about one important thing for my room: bath towels.

I'm lucky enough to have noticed this little anomaly before stepping into the shower. Trying to dry off with just a 1 square foot hand towel would have been an exercise in futility. I got dressed and ducked down to the camp office and asked for some towels. They didn't have any on hand but said they would deliver some to my room. Okay, fine, I said, so I went and had some breakfast while feeling relatively unkempt. Maybe there would be time to get back up there and catch a quick shower after I ate and before things got started. Maybe my fellow employees wouldn't notice my relative lack of primping that particular morning.

As it turned out, the towels weren't actually delivered until much later, and when they were, it was on a metal rolling cart. Yes, they parked a cart in front of my room there set the towels on top, and left that whole thing standing there in the open air. That probably would have worked out except for the fact that it started raining, and my towels were soaked.

So, even if I had wanted to slip out and take a shower during lunch, I couldn't, since my towels had been rendered temporarily useless. They were fine by the next morning, but it basically eliminated any chance of cleaning up properly on Thursday. That annoyed me quite a bit.

There's a lot which went wrong at this particular offsite.