Ah July: warm weather, waving flags, watermelon, and a new tradition: TripAdvisor teams going head to head in feats of strength, mental acuity and pie eating.
In July 2012, a dozen groups with such dauntingly fierce names as “The Feature Creeps” and “Cities I’ve Pillaged” (named for the “Cities I’ve Visited” feature on TripAdvisor) gathered their team flags (decorated pillowcases on poles) and met Ollie the Owl for a solemn opening ceremony to mark the beginning of a week of brutal combat. Some teams arrived in flashy apparel they planned far enough ahead to personalize. My team scrounged for swag and showed up wearing misprinted engineering intern t-shirts and warm winter hats, neither of which really matched our team mascot, the Honey Badger. But like the Honey Badger, we didn’t care. We didn’t… never mind. We were the team from HR, so the irony that we would choose the ever-so-HR-inappropriate Honey Badger was lost on no one.
As the games began, the HR team (aka the Human Capitals) scored some early points, with the Benefits Manager earning second place in the pie eating contest and the Recruiting Manager sliding into third place in the freeze dance.
However, soon other teams began to take center stage. The Bean Team trounced the competition in the Ski Boot Velcro Race. The Daodao team, who flew from China to participate, wowed everyone with their hula hoop prowess and edged out Team Awesome.
Meanwhile, the Human Capitals suffered some setbacks. The recruiter brave enough to do the sumo wrestling in the big inflatable suit found himself face to face with a purple belt opponent; it’s not difficult to imagine how that match ended. The ping-pong match was over before it began when the challenger appeared with a paddle he brought from home – never a good sign. My teammate and I were quite adept at quickly spelling words out of tennis balls and briefly took the lead, but during the course of the afternoon we were out-spelled by more than a few other teams. The spelling part was easy; it was the crawling around the inflatable pit to find the tennis balls with the needed letters that we failed to master.
Tension was high as the totals were tallied and the Wheaties Boxes were printed with faces of ferocious athletes. At last, the results: Daodao was the victor, followed by the Bean Team and the Monstars. With a grand flourish and a lot of cheering, the TripAdvisor teams disbanded with the promise of retribution in July 2013.