I’ve had a pretty good childhood.
Sure, I’ve been bullied and there have been occasions I think my parents could have adhered to the Good Parenting Code a little better, but overall I think I’ve had a rather cushy deal.
At least, compared to some people.
I was at Company Orientation about a week ago, and we played this game derived from a Taiwanese game show. One member of our ten-member group would sit facing the rest, whilst a word flashed behind him. His team members, without making use of the word, had to make him guess the word in as little time as possible.
So this Indian programmer guy goes up and the word that flashes behind him is “Playstation” (which tells you where I work, in case you don’t already know). We’re thinking like ‘Oh, this’ll be so easy, he’ll get it in 2 seconds’but we were wrong.
The guy did not know what a Playstation was. We mimed hitting the buttons on the control pads, we told him that it was a video game device into which you put CDs or DVDs inside so that it would load games, we described it’s black exterior and sleek design, we named competing consoles from rival companies… all to no avail. Despite being a Sony employee (and I staff at that), he had ostensibly never heard of the Playstation, and just stared at us like we were crazy as we mashed our thumbs and twiddled our fingers. His face drew a blank at names like “XBox” and “GameCube”.
So we switched tack and tried to describe the component words instead.
“OK! 2 words! First word… what do children do!?”
His face brightened with that glow of enlightenment and relief that comes with Knowing The Answer, and he exclaimed in excitement:
“Study! Children study!”
It was at this point that I couldn’t take it any longer and started laughing, except that he was taking it so seriously I had to try to try to hide it, resulting in a choking fit that only got worse when those of my teammates who hadn’t been shocked into silence or gagging on their laughter tried to correct him.
“No, no! Not study! What do children DOOOOOOO!!!!???”
A little unsure of himself now and less confident than before, he replied hesitently:
Now, I don’t want you to think this is an attack on the cluelessness of Indian programmers, so I’ll let you know that half of my group consisted of Indian programmers and they were similarly amused/shocked. The only one of the entire team, in fact, who managed to keep a straight face and continue, was this other Indian programmer who was taking the game a little too seriously (as they sometimes do).
“NO NO NO! For fun! What do children do for fun?!” (the righteous fury of my company’s spurned pride lending power to his voice)
My cluless colleague in the hotseat, looking a little lost and forlorn, and had to think for a few tense seconds before trying in a small voice:
“They… play games?”
That got us, shrieking in amusement and relief, back into the game, and he got the second word eventually after “Play-Terminal”, “Play-Ticketing-Booth” and “Play-Platform”. We lost the game, of course, because by the time he got it the other teams had already finished half their words. He spent the rest of the game sitting by himself in a corner repeating “play…station?” to himself like a lost lamb, until a kindly woman from HR went over to explain last year’s most profitable product to him.
And seeing him made me realize just how good my childhood was, because if you ask me what children do, the first thing that comes to my mind is that they play. Because that was my first instinct as a child.
Is it the same for you?