Corporate Dodgeball

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

Never mind that one almost never gets to use “equipage” in a sentence anymore. What gets me is that people would loook at you funny for using the word equipage and then turn around and talk about leveraging something.

Can you tell I was on a conference call yesterday for my day job?

We were discussing a new area of work and several of the company graybeards were on the call. Not that any of these guys (or gals) actually has a gray beard, but you get my meaning. One of them made a wise observation on the state of the field and paused significantly after, to allow his meaning to sink in. And I thought: I knew that. Everyone on this call knows that. But he has the gray beard. I’m just someone who wonders why we never hear the word “equipage” anymore.

It’s a funny thing, being both a writer and a worker-bee. Not just a worker-bee, I suppose, but upwardly mobile, career-track, middle-management. I like my job. I love the people I work with. I appreciate that they show their appreciation of me by paying me well and giving me good benefits. But I can’t talk about leveraging something with a straight face.

Fortunately I don’t have to, since I’m on the phone and can roll my eyes as often as I want to.

In the end though, I feel like I’m still playing dodgeball. The gym is filled with kids, some loving it, some hating it, some pretending to love it, so the loving-it-kids will like them. The aggressive boys do best — hurling balls with vicious speed at any target. Exulting in taking someone out. Only when the timid kid, who spends all her time ducking, is left all alone to represent her team, do they notice her. The aggressive boys turn their attention to her. They are sidelined, but if she catches one ball, just one, they’ll sweep in and take over the field, returning the team to glory. They shout, encourage, exhort. They want the win. She wants the game to be over, so she can read more of her book before the next class.

I’m an asset to my company. I’m not the timid girl who’d rather be hiding in the bathroom, chosen for the team from the default pool of last picks. But sometimes I think the game will always go to the ones who thrive on the hard and fast throw, who love the flash of pain in an opponent’s eye, who relish the shuffling walk of the target to the sideline.

A friend of mine says life is a team sport. And I believe the sports players see it that way. I wonder if they ever see how the quiet members of their teams are dreaming of other worlds, seeing glass coaches and watching to see if the blackbirds are shadowing us.

3 Replies to “Corporate Dodgeball”

  1. We never hear “equipage” anymore because the horse and carriage is obsolete, replaced by technologies offering more speed, more power and more freedom.

    You know, kinda like books on paper.

  2. I think your dual life makes your writing more approachable. It is a talent to be able to do both and do them well. It takes me several days of relaxation or nothingness before I start having creative thoughts. You merge the two beautifully.

  3. Thanks, Karen — what a lovely thing to say!

    And a BTW: the first definition of “equipage” says only “carriage.” The second definition includes horses and attendants. No pumpkins.

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