The Bonding Trip – Part One

The sun moved behind the Chiso Mountains in the distance, causing the brilliant streaks of white light to create a sharp contrast between the mountain and the sky. We had been going towards those mountains, but we were stuck alongside the I-10 highway. For more than an hour, I’d been sitting inside the disabled RV, watching our “Corporate Mentors” debate the best way of fixing the burst hose in the engine compartment. Through the window, the light fades away, and the desert sky turns a beautiful indigo blue. I can hear someone talking on their phone to the RV rental service, but the sky draws my attention back as the desert completes it phase from light to night. I head outside to the back of the RV, away from cabin light, and scan the pitch-black sky. I glimpse at the ground as something scurries by my feet, and when I look back to the sky, it is full of twinkling stars. The desert air cools quickly. I stick my hands in my pockets and sit on the bumper, wondering if I can see the Marfa lights from here.


One of our Corporate mentors finally made the decision to cut a section from a garden hose stored in the back of the RV and they jury-rigged a fix. They had been arguing back and forth whether to sit and wait for AAA to arrive, which would take many hours, or make use of the garden hose and temporarily fix the problem, so we could get to the next town. The debate shifted back and forth for a couple of hours, with one lunkhead arguing that we had no right to destroy the property of the RV rental company, and another lunkhead arguing we should just wait for the tow. When it got dark, the epic blackness of the desert night prompted someone to finally make an executive decision – cut the hose, buy a new one later. In complete darkness, my fellow “Mushroom University” classmates and I re-board the RV and we all continue on our ‘bonding’ trip to Big Bend.

I laughed at that ‘executive decision’ and the amount of time it took to get there. It was pretty funny, but in a sad way, because what they had done in the end actually mirrored a management philosophy concept they had taught us in our management class. But, considering the time wasted tonight, it was clear they didn’t understand the mantra they preached. The philosophy said, “Sometimes it is easier to ask forgiveness, then seek permission,” which means that as a manager, when something important occurs and a decision regarding it needs to be made immediately. You (as manager) made the best decision possible to get past the problem, and you move on. If it’s the wrong decision, you say sorry, I did the best I could. We were stuck in the desert, hours from help, and the only choices were to wait for hours (throwing off the retreat schedule), or temporarily fix the hose and move on. We should of been back on the road pretty quickly., because really, was there really any other real choice? I even offered to buy the new hose at the start if would help expedite getting back on the road, but I was ignored, which I guess was to be expected. After all, I was the student, not the sensei. And so it goes. Anyway, we were finally on our way to Big Bend, though our first stop would be in Ft. Stockon, and the only auto parts store for hundreds of miles.


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