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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

The Basketball Work Party

I recently switched departments at the office, and my new crew had just completed a project when I joined them. Based on selling a particular product line, the whole project was basketball themed, including weekly "MVPs" and "free throws" awarded to those individuals and teams who sold the most. I was immensely glad I hadn't actually been around to participate in the project when it was announced at the celebration/report-out (an afternoon and evening of games and food at a local park) that the teams would be shooting literal free-throws as a way to determine the ultimate project champions. Thank goodness I don't have to shoot is what I was thinking as we headed over to the basketball courts.

But one of the annoying things about Corporate America is this blasted emphasis on teamwork and team-building activities. I'm not saying we should be sequestered loners at work, but as an introverted person, I have it on good authority (so does Susan Cain) that you can get a lot more accomplished on your own than you can by participating in a mass brainstorming session. Yet, I digress. What this meant to my work posse that day on the court was that it was simply not OK that I was not on a team for this final shoot-out. How awful for Tali to be left out! Get Tali shooting the ball! Let Tali warm up!

I tried to gently explain to these people not only that I was perfectly fine not shooting and didn't feel left out at all, but also that me and basketball didn't have the greatest of relationships. "Have you read my book?" I asked the group, and those that had immediately began laughing at being reminded of my rather disastrous junior high try-outs. Let me emphasize that in this moment, about to shoot a slew of free-throws in front of tons of people, I had no amount of confidence that even one shot would be close enough to hit the rim. And the narration from one of my co-workers didn't help either, although it was in hindsight rather amusing. "Here she is, after a 17-year absence," the co-worker said quietly, sportscaster style, as I stepped up to the line. "For the first time since seventh grade. Tali Nay at the line." Or maybe I heard this all in my head.

Either way, I made a shot. Then I made another one. I managed to get our team tied with the team who was at that point in first place. "One more and your team takes the lead," the man keeping score said. My next shot went in, and everyone cheered. It's silly how glorious this moment was for me, although I did have to deal with several co-workers who wondered why I had initially protested when clearly my shooting abilities seemed intact. Of course, shooting was never my problem, so I could only repeat, "Have you read my book?" It should probably be required reading for anyone who knows me.