After being here over a year, people at work are finally starting to get used to me. More say “Hello” when we pass in the hallway instead of giving a mumbly nod or staring down at their feet. A few know (or know of) Angela and ask about her. A few are even aware of some of the other things going in my life and ask about them.
Two weeks ago I thought I had reached a new level of inclusion when Eldhose called out to me as I walked by. He was asking me something about cricket. It felt like he was leading to something but I wasn’t quite sure what. I noticed he was fidgeting with some slips of paper as he was talking. In my mind I was excitedly hoping that he was suggesting that I join a group of them that were going to a cricket match. No such luck crossing that one off.
It turned out that he was explaining that they were having a “contest” with the ongoing Twenty 20 Cricket World Cup Championship and was wanting to know if I would like to participate. I envisioned a US style office pool for random betting on the big sports championships like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals. (What happened to the Magic?!) I thought to myself, “What could go wrong? It might be fun.” So I joined the contest.
Eldhose then searched through his rolls of slips and found the one with my name on it. I have no idea why the slips would already have names printed on them. I felt surprised that there had been some foresight to include me so I didn’t ask. I reviewed the slip and saw that I had to write in names of the top 4 teams and the best players in several categories. Eldhose explained that we’d get points for correct answers and the person with the highest total would win. Uh oh, skill was required…
I pulled out my wallet and asked “How much?” Instead of a figure, Eldhose gave me the confused look that I dread as it usually deflates any chance of further communication. After some probing, he lit back up when I stumbled upon an idea he understood. It turns out there was no “prize” for the contest. They were still looking for some “sponsors” to provide the prizes. I thought, “OK. Cool. The winner will get a t-shirt or water bottle with some company’s name and logo on it. If figure if we’re really lucky, maybe someone has connections to get a team jacket as the prize.”
Next came the hard part. The slip required written answers. It wasn’t multiple choice or random assignments! And the slips had to be put in the box by the end of the day. Where was I supposed to get the answers? I’ve watched enough cricket now to at least understand it as well as I understand any other professional sport—hey! quit sniggering!—but the fact that I wasn’t even aware that the championship was being played gives some idea of what I was up against. I’m not proud of it, but I decided to cheat: I looked up the answers on a sports book web site. Problem solved.
Later that afternoon, Eldhose came to my cabin (that’s their word for an enclosed office) to get my slip. He took it, and with no hesitation asked if I would sponsor the contest. Had I been setup? Either way, I figured I may as well be the contest sponsor. They would single me out to pass out prizes even if I wasn’t the sponsor. If I’m going to pass them out, I may as well provide them too. It is my penance for cheating on the answers.
And then we went on our trip to north India. I’ll finish the story later...
Update: The story is finished: Cricket Contest, part 2.
what doesn't kill you...
10 months ago