Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free-Time Flyer

The IIPAC was a highlight of my work year for the last almost decade. It was the time when we put away the seriousness of work and flew paper airplanes. It was amazing to see the ingenious side of people as they made their customized planes, every one hoping to go the farthest distance.

So when my friend Doug, the initiator and long-time organizer, sent me the announcement about this year’s contest, I determined that was enough of a good reason to make the trek out to the old office, a commute I had not missed over the past 9 months.

As I got ready last night, I realized I hadn’t the slightest idea where I had put my red retiree badge and the parking permit I was to put in my car’s window. After turning the house upside down, I found them squirreled away in a drawer along with my voter registration card and charge cards I had forgotten I even had.

Then the challenge of making my plane. I picked PL-1 Joe’s Favorite Paper Airplane off the Internet and set to work trying to copy Joe’s folds. Of course I had to use the “official IIPAC” paper provided by Doug, so that we all were on an even playing field, so to speak. There are a million rules about things like no tape, no weights, etc.

The first time I flew my Free-Time Flyer, I knew I had the best plane I had ever come up with. It flew straight with no sudden loops and didn’t crash land. How exciting!

The competition venue is a very long walkway in the new office space. Last year’s winner, a tiny plane thrown with 2 hands had made it almost to the far wall, over 60 feet. So the challenge was on. In this picture Aru looks to see how far his plane went as he battles for first place.

Here’s Ken, the guy who took my old job. He hasn’t yet taken on the wrinkles and strained face that come with the job. He seems to have everything under control and still has time to have fun.

Every year Doug makes a valiant effort to win the contest. But truthfully he is a much better MC than he is a paper-airplane-maker. He does have good form though.

So how did the Free-time Flyer perform? I’m pleased to say I came in 5th in a field of about 25, the “top girl” flyer with an average distance of 28 feet. Everyone was amazed since in the past I had been lucky to get into double digits.

This year’s winner was Bob, who managed an average distance in the high 30's. Nothing to compete with last year’s winner, but good enough to deserve a box of chocolates.

And for the category of “best design”, both serious entries came from the same person, who had enlisted the help of her young son. These beautiful planes were not required to fly in order to win. Another box of chocolates was her reward for great artwork.

After the contest, which also included a dart-throwing contest, we sat down to a pot-luck featuring all sorts of fattening food, like Popeye’s chicken and biscuits, which I would never buy but which I love to eat. There were all sorts of temptations for dessert.

I had fun catching up with these people who had been such an important part of my life for so long. I will continue to see them away from work from time to time and perhaps at other social events at the old office. But I have no intention of re-entering that work scene to do real work ever again. There are way too many other things I enjoy doing these days.

It felt good to be in the old office without the negative feelings I had when I left. They have just slipped out of my life forever.


Blogger steve said...

"It felt good to be in the old office without the negative feelings

The plane on the right is the one my daddy showed me how to make when I was 7...I wondered all these years whether there was anyone out there that knew that plane.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It sounds like a fun way to stay connected to people who shared so much of your life.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- If we ever have long-distance Bloggers meet-up, we'll have to have a paper airplane contest as a mixer. It's a great way to get to know people!

Which "plane on the right" -- the one on the red doily?

Kristin -- Exactly!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I loved this post, Barbara, it left me with a light and floaty feel. Congrats on your 28 feet, quite a respectable distance. Before the next time, we'll get Mr. R. to consult, he's an aeronautical engineer, that ought to be good for something! :laugH:

3:44 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

a great read - almost as good as being there. And isn't it a good feeling to be able to go back without dreading it? Has it been nine months already!

6:59 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- I will welcome any help I can get from Mr. R!

Pauline -- How time flies when we are having fun (making airplanes)!

11:09 AM  
Blogger steve said...

yeah barb, the one that says ACS gogogo

11:43 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

This such a cool idea for a work place! Teachers would love this! Sounds like one of the better things about your old job! Did it feel weird going in there?

5:17 PM  

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