Monday, February 11, 2013

Office Work and Treasure Hunts: Another Week in the Rockaways

This is your humble chronicler's weekly report from the Rockaways, where Summit 5 has taken up residence on behalf of the FEMA folks that are in charge of Queens: 

The team remains split up into its component parts. Katrina and John are out with Neighborhood Task Force Initiative (will explain that soon) teams, basically performing normal CR work and getting Katrina unholy hyped up with caffeine (apparently her Reservists like to keep her jitterbugging). Shingirai, Chelsea, Joe and Malinda have been installed in a FEMA trailer, doing IA work, at least some of which involves looking for rental properties (I did not do much research for this post) and making calls. Tiffany and I are still ensconced in our own FEMA trailer, working for the Planning department. The idea is that the NTFI teams have spent the past few months embedded in their specific communities, so they know the area really well. Our mission is to figure out how to use them to help out with FEMA's long-term recovery effort in the Rockaways. 

To that end, we've been making lots of plans but not using them, at least not yet. I created and my bosses have refined a "matrix" of current problems in the Rockaways, based on the NTFI teams' reports, and Tiffany and Ray (our co-worker) made a giant database of virtually every important contact in the Rockaways. Local governmental figures, religious leaders, community leaders, heads of voluntary organizations, we've got 'em all. The problem is figuring out what the Joint Field Office wants us to do with 'em, which is still in the works. 

That's the work-related news from Lake Woebegon. Off work, we survived Giant Snowstorm #2, dubbed "Nemo" by the Weather Channel (which is a cop-out of a name, by the way), without major incident. We had an awesome week of PT; first an impromptu zumba class on Monday (which resulted in everyone doing the Cotton Eye Joe dance in a hotel staircase landing with random strangers wandering through) and then I finally, finally, finally got to do my treasure hunt! And since I am the kingpin of this blog, you get to hear me brag allll about it. 

I'd been waiting to do this thing for weeks. Here's the plan: Split our eight-person team up into two sub-teams. Each one has five clues to find and solve, each one of which will lead to the next clue. One team runs around outside and does calisthenics, one scampers around inside the hotel and does push-ups, sit-ups and so on. Once you've found all the clues, the last one instructs you to find the other team's PT coordinator, steal their ID badge and run and touch our van, Hildegaard. First team to do that wins a get-out-of-jail-free card for each member: one free pass from any chore they choose. 

After waiting weeks for the proper time to do it--early afternoon, no precipitation, not too cold, everybody there--I finally got my chance on Tuesday, when we went to the JFO for tech support and headed home early. Fellow PT coordinator Joe and I hid the clues around the hotel and around the neighborhood (which included press-ganging the hotel front desk lady into participation) and led our teams into battle! (We both knew the answers to our respective clue-sets, but were honor-bound to give hints at most.) After a lot of running around like crazy and solving clues and doing exercises, my downfall came fast and hard (literally). My team had been just a little slower to get their clues, you see. While they were doing the final physical exercise in a stairwell, John Q. Dillinger burst out of nowhere, hit me with a door, snatched my badge and disappeared down the stairs. I gave a spirited chase, but was too late to prevent victory. 

Much more important than winning or losing, though, was this: everyone had an excellent time AND got some exercise AND enjoyed PT for the second time in forever. We've got a round of yoga dialed up for this week, and Katrina's agreed to lead a belly-dancing class. I don't see any way that this won't be hilarious (mostly watching the boys try and do it). Will post things throughout the week as per usual!

Below are the locations and clues, if anyone's interested. 

Inside Team
1: Complete a fairly mundane bit of doggerel by rhyming the next location with "flyers", "criers" and "spry...ers". (Answer: under the dryers.)
2: Solve a word search, then run to that place. (Answer: EZPass building next door.)
3: Answer several team trivia questions, then rearrange highlighted letters to spell out FRONT DESK. 
4: More unscrambling letters; this time ELEVATOR MIRROR.
5: A final round of trivia questions, both team-related (What is TL Chelsea's middle name?) and not (Complete this phrase: I R A N-Contra scandal) spelling out GENERATOR OUT BACK. 

Outside Team
Not sure of the order, because I was inside. The types of clues were the same, but the locations were not: the Babies 'R Us building a few blocks over, the baseball field in a nearby park, the creepy rabbit statue in the same park, Hildegaard and the elevator roof. (Have I mentioned I love making treasure hunts?)

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