Members of the Special Air Service, the British Army’s most renowned special forces unit, are shortly to take part in ground-breaking ‘inward bound’ training courses to learn the ruthless new skills of the modern office environment, through a series of tasks described as ‘teambuilding’.
The course takes the troops out of their comfort zone of the battlefield, and throws them into the foreign world of an anonymous soulless office, and will be run by an elite team of middle managers drawn from the ranks of British Telecom, Thames Water and Surrey County Council. Expected to last five days, once the sensory deprivation of the modern office sinks in, the course will feel many, many times longer.
‘Our men are among the most highly trained in the world, but today’s battles require new skills,’ commented a senior SAS officer, ‘our early tests showed that you put an SAS man in the modern office kitchen and nine times out of ten he’ll try and make himself a brew in the booby-trapped personal mug belonging to the facilities service manager. Within hours he will be crippled by a backbreaking chair, and driven mad through the isolation of being posted to a windowless basement office that is somehow simultaneously far too hot, and really bloody cold. We’re in danger of becoming a laughing stock.’
Early results of the training were said to have had a positive effect on boosting the SAS’s office competency. On the final training exercise at the end of the first course, soldiers who just five days earlier had taken a compliment delivered at a packed team meeting at face value, had learnt to work together to ensure a common enemy’s work was constantly going missing from the printer, effectively neutralising their short-term influence. They then turned on each other, with the overall exercise winner successfully distributing his teammate’s CV on photocopiers near the most dangerous office gossips, before faking his expenses to pay for an afternoon session in the pub.
While the SAS attendees said they’d learnt a lot from the course that they could take back to help win their ongoing bloodthirsty battles with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Ministry of Defence, they readily accepted they weren’t cut out for the dangers of office life and may not be the kind of men you’d want next to you in the cubicles.
‘I can carry my own bodyweight in kit over hundreds of miles in unbearable heat, hide in barren sub-arctic wasteland surviving only on nutrients found in fox poo, and launch cold-blooded lethal force attacks on numerically superior enemy forces with a weapon crafted from a lolly stick,’ observed a veteran SAS lieutenant, ‘but the things these civil service office workers do every day just to get a slightly more executive grade stapler? It’s inhuman!’
Helena.handcart, with Ugi