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While the world’s attention is focused on gymnasts, swimmers, track stars, and weightlifters (along with all those retired athletes pitching E.D. products), unsung heroes are overcoming Olympic challenges in offices and factories closer to home.

10-mile Commute and 100-Yard Hurdles: Employees (who have just raced through rush hour traffic), must now jump ten parking bumpers, three UPS boxes, and a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign to arrive at their desk on time.

Telemarathon: Callers attempt to contact their party in record time despite the electronic obstacle course: “If you know your party’s extension, press 1.” “For a menu of options, press 2.” “Press the last four letters of your party’s last name. Use # for Q and * for Z.” “Press 0 for an operator.” “All operators are busy keeping other customers on hold.” [Annoying Muzak] “Your call may be recorded to assure quality service.” Click! Bzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Xeroxathon: Contestants must un-jam the copier, load a ream of paper, and change toner (Current record 38.6 seconds)

Spamathon: Olympic employees must respond to 500 emails (half of which are Nigerian widows offering millions of dollars for simply your bank account number and PIN) before the server goes down.

Decipherthon: Administrative assistants attempt to read their supervisor’s handwriting. (Click here for what separates mere secretaries from gold medal administrative assistants.)

Balance Beam: Attempt to balance work and family responsibilities. Extra “degree of difficulty” points if job requires travel or child has Attention Deficiency Disorder. (Click here for Olympic time management tips.)

Relay race: See how fast Person A can get work off his/her desk and on to Person B’s desk.

Weight Lifting: If you work on the loading dock or mail room of your office or factory, you’re already in Olympic shape—or on medical leave.

Vault: Contestants must race to the bank after work before it closes.

One-Thousand-Word Dash: Competitors attempt to write a humor column under the current world record time of 4 minutes 42 seconds. (Extra points for technical and artistic merit if column actually makes sense.)

Copyright © 2000 James N. Watkins