Clash at LiteBrite
That's the sign that greeted me in the cafeteria about two weeks before the company picnic. I sort of laughed and shrugged it off at the time, but it was certainly strange. Where had these ridiculous team names come from? Was the email about uniforms serious?
Things, of course, proceeded to get stranger. What I had thought was a friendly match up with our colleagues at LiteBrite West Campus, was taking on a more serious tone. Word filtered down to us that our opponents had started practicing three days a week and in the week prior to the game they'd practiced twice. Rumors started reaching us of ringers, players brought in to improve the level of play. Had they been hiring based on this? It was hard to tell but it was clear they were taking it all very seriously and were prepared to play hardball. People around our office were getting slightly nervous, especially when there was a call to bring the trophy (yes it's a real trophy, a cheap one, but still real) to LiteBrite West, ahead of the game. Pretty serious.
At no point had I felt like they were a threat. I mean, friendly game nonsense aside, they had never beaten us in any games we'd played. They were slow, old, and with the exception of one or two players just not as skilled. I am not some sort of soccer prodigy but I knew there was no way we would walk away from the game defeated.
So comes the day, and we all arrive at the picnic, only to notice that the mental game was already being played. The opposing side (the "Saints") had all shown up sporting their jerseys. They congregated together on the far side of the picnic area, talking in low whispers, occasionally looking around and laughing. Was it paranoid to think they were laughing at us? Perhaps not, but the day was shaping up like an episode of Friday Night Lights.
Unfortunately the only real drama once the game started was on whether or not every member of our team would score. The demolition started fairly quickly, with hoots and cawing in honor of the "Falcons" (honestly, who came up with these?). It continued in a one sided manner in front of a dwindling crowd for about an hour, with one face-saving goal for the opposition being the only thing that broke up the monotony of our overall domination (humblebrag? Perhaps). As we assembled post-game to loft our trophy (in front of a crowd consisting of only ourselves), there was some rejoicing but mainly awkward milling about and trying to figure out if we had gotten enough to eat during the actual picnic part. Which showed us that we had actually lost in a sense.