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A Boatload of Elephants

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Darryl Emmerson

All appointments had been cancelled, and staff sternly ordered to attend that morning. It was the Team Building Day, something I had tried to ignore. But there it was and, amazingly, we had reached mid-morning without the deeper problems, griefs and grievances given too early or too public an airing. Actually none of the staff had said much at all. The cheery, domineering manner of the highly remunerated, external facilitator, clearly into her own trip, washed over everything, all we had to do was let her fulminate till she ran out of breath. Now she had finished her PowerPoint, left her whiteboard and gone up the corridor, to relax and re-group presumably, and there was a sudden, odd, meaningful silence.

Perhaps nervous at this, Chris ventured to say, “So you think Hawthorn might win on Saturday, Phil?”

Phil, who’d never expressed any interest in football, was startled to be consulted like this, but wanted to stand by his friend.

“Well, I couldn’t really say”, he finally declared, “cricket’s more my thing”.

“I didn’t know that, Phil, I didn’t know that”, struck in the effusive Ranjit, leaning forward. “Back home in India, I went every week, and even played - very, very badly of course - for a few years. But all that had to stop when…”

“Yeah, well, cricket, I guess that’s something in common between Australia and India, isn’t it?” conceded Phil, but in no way welcoming further expansion of the topic.

Another brief lull followed, broken by reliable Sam, who’s hard to beat when it comes to putting your foot in it. Dabbing daintily at his tablet, almost hidden by numerous half-dirty polystyrene cups, papers and pens strewn about, as well as torn-open packets of very sugary lollies, he looked up and asked, “So  are some of your people mixed up in these boats, Ranjit?”

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