He bought the whole seat, but we only needed the edge

After the Windows 95 project was released to manufacturing, but before the launch event itself, the team finally had a chance to relax and unwind after many years of hard work. The project manager decided to have a morale event to get everyone together to do something fun. A typical morale event might be going to see a baseball game, renting out a movie theater to watch the latest action flick, or something as simple as a picnic or a softball game.

But this time, the project manager decided to do something different, something wild, something crazy, something everybody would talk about for days: He bought everyone tickets to the monster truck rally. (And he bought the whole seat, even though we'd only need the edge.)

Comments (28)
  1. Josh says:

    At least it’s different. From my experience, 4 out of 5 of our morale events were "rent out a bar and play pool and ping pong" events.

    My experience has been that the really fun morale events are the ones that involve the team splitting up into teams and attacking each other. A fairly tame whitewater rafting expedition was livened up greatly by smuggling water cannons aboard and launching raids on the opposing boats (to steal the water cannons of course). And paintball always works well; nothing like coming home covered in welts to boost the endorphin levels.

  2. keith says:


  3. SI says:

    We went canoeing with the company last summer. One of the groups had brought some squirt guns to annoy the others. We ended up getting our revenge by splashing them using our paddles, and one boat was even capsized when a guy jumped off his boat and swam over. That was one of the best company trips I have had.

  4. Adam V says:

    something everybody would talk about for days

    Success – Raymond’s blogging about it 15 years later!

  5. AsmGuru62 says:

    One time we went as a whole company to play golf. And it was mandatory – not kidding. I asked one of executive guys: didn’t we say that we’ll ship on Monday? His response was: well, there are few more Mondays coming up – we’ll manage somehow.

  6. Marcus says:

    One of the more unusual ship parties I’ve been to was a curling event at the Granite Curling Club in Seattle.  Getting those stones to go where you want them to go (and, more importantly, stop where you want them to stop) is surprisingly difficult.  It was a lot of fun to try something that’s just a little bit out of the ordinary.

  7. john ludwig says:

    and boy was it awesome! tho with recent fatalities at the event i am not sure i would ever advise it again.

  8. James Schend says:

    Josh: Paintball isn’t very popular with teams that have female members. (Usually– I don’t want to stereotype.)

  9. Chris L says:

    ANything relating to corporate team building, retreats, parties, morale, etc. just make me stress out thinking of ways to get out of doing it! I see you people more than enough during the week thanks!

  10. Neil S says:

    The best team building event I went to was driving a steam train. They are very impressive machines

  11. Warll says:

    Chris, for how long have you been stalking me?

  12. JJJ says:

    I don’t trust product celebrations since the very first one I went to, which was a baseball game.  Oh, the game was fine.  It was the next day when half the team was laid off that was the problem.

  13. David Walker says:

    Monster Truck rally:  Be there! (deep bass voice)

  14. Tim says:

    If you haven’t played Whirlyball, and it is available in your area, take your team and try it.

    Imagine lacrosse, played in bumper cars.  It is insanely fun.  And competitive without being unfair to the uncoordinated or slow, since how graceful can you be trying to catch a whiffle ball from a bumper car?

    We played at our engineering meeting and no one could get enough.

  15. F. Cutter says:

    @Tim Ya, we did Whirlyball for our ship party one year, that was a lot of fun… and my team dominated winning every match, including the last one against the other undefeated team. :)

  16. Jolyon Smith says:

    "stress out thinking of ways to get out of doing it! I see you people more than enough during the week thanks!"

    Yep, I have a real problem with "team building events" held in what would otherwise be an employee’s personal time where attendance is made pseudo-compulsory, since non-attendance indicates lack of commitment to the team.

    I’ve worked for such companies and frankly, they have the least esprit de corps and the biggest morale problems.  By contrast I currently work for a company which doesn’t have organised "team building" events, but where there is a strong team spirit and people willingly and enthusiastically socialise with the team in their own time.

    In my experience, organised "team building" is an attempt/need to compensate for a lack of "team spirit" caused by working practices and environment.  Running around in the woods a couple of times a year can’t compensate for that.

    Having said that, a company paid trip to a fun event as a "reward for a job well done", as I think is described in the original post, is of course slightly different and usually very welcome.

  17. Gabe says:

    Was the monster truck rally on a Sunday? Or was it on a SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!!!?

  18. Cheong says:

    Agreed that such "team building events" will have negative event if it would be held at employee’s personal time.

    For most software companies the working schedule is flexible. Why wouldn’t they allow one workday devoted to such activity (afterall it’s considered beneficial for the company’s performance) and delay works by one day? I’d think such delay after product shipment to be quite affordable.

  19. Matt says:

    Oh Gabe, if I could start comments, yours would be lit up like the night sky…

  20. Worf says:

    Yeah. Nothing sucks worse than mandatory team building… off company time. Add to that expenses not paid, and you’ve united the team against the manager.

    Thankfully, managers have seen the light, and it’s often something like a nice lunch out with everyone on the team.

    Another time I simply skipped out and went for a walk – and came back to a nearly empty office and did my work.

  21. Drak says:

    I’m glad that where I work we don’t really have those mandatory teambuilding events, and it’s not really neccessary.

    We did have a cool ‘job well done’ thing one saturday morning though, namely a trip to a gunnery range to do some shooting. For those of us not living in the US this is not something you get to do very often, and it was well worth my free time :) (And the boss paid for it too)

  22. Michael says:

    Could please anyone explain me what "He bought the whole seat, but we only needed the edge" means? I’m German and I don’t really understand it. I know what a seat is and I know what an edge is. But I don’t understand the meaning in this context.

    Thank you.

  23. Nick Lamb says:

    Michael, this relates to an English idiom "(to be) on the edge of {their} seat" meaning to be very excited. Imagine if you are sat in an audience for an event and something exciting happens, you may unconsciously move slightly forward as if this small change will make it easier to see what’s going on.

    Advertising, particularly for events like a monster truck rally may play on this metaphor by suggesting that you will be in this state (of excitement) for the entire event. So although you must buy a ticket for "a whole seat" to see the event, you will only  sit on (and thus need) the edge of it.

    So, this article title is a reference to the advertising for monster truck rallys.

    I think you get The Simpsons in Germany, you can see an example of this style of advertising in an episode where the Simpsons go to a monster truck show.

  24. David Comeau says:

    I remember that line from Monster Truck Madness!  Army Armstrong said that in the demo video in the extras on the Win95 disc.

  25. Florian W. says:

    @Nick Lamp: Thank you for the explanation, but "The Simpsons" are aired in a dubbed version and so this kind of references gets removed.  

  26. Michael says:

    @Nick: Thanks for your explanation. It’s like you bought a ticket for a place with a seat but you don’t need the seat because the show is that good that you stand all the time anyway.

    And yes, we get The Simpsons in Germany, but I don’t watch it regularly and they are synchronized so this proverb might get lost. But I can’t think of a proverb in German that expresses the same meaning.

  27. pramakers says:

    And paintball always works well;

    It does! We did this with our team well over a year ago. Even though a lot of team members have left and been replaced, those that were there back then still talk about it to this day.

  28. Florian W. says:

    @Michael: Das Ähnlichste dürfte wohl "vom Stuhl hauen" sein.

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