A couple of times each year, my publisher and I take the entire staff away for a weekend for an official Boise Weekly retreat. While it's not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. Putting out a newspaper once a week is challenging enough, but organizing this same happy dysfunctional group to meet at point B on the map within a few hours of each other is a feat of organizational skill.
The purpose is a simple one-to get everyone together to learn a little more about their fellow employees outside of the office walls. We had several rules, as one must in these types of situations. First, you could only bring your significant others. No fly-by-night boyfriends or girlfriends. Certainly no "for-hire" companions, despite the annual threats from those over on the advertising side of the company. Second, no dogs. At first we were going to allow dogs, but then it got really complicated. Then when someone announced their allergy to the dogs, well, that option was out. Third, because management was going to provide the food, the employees would need to provide ... the "refreshments," if you will. BYOB makes everyone happy with their own choice.
This spring's retreat was at Twin Springs, about halfway to Atlanta on a dirt road. Last Friday was still quite rainy and the road was slick and slow, but we made it up there. We rented out all four cabins and basically had the place to ourselves ... that is, until the massage folks showed up.
Apparently-information has been pieced together from our collective drunken haze-just up the road camping at Loftus Hot Springs was the annual local massage school campout. They brought their massage table down to the bar at Twin Springs and were offering free massages most of Saturday. (Tips, of course, were accepted.) A couple of the young masseuses visited our private patios, and, being neighborly, a few of the friendlier employees invited them to play some cards.
Then, things got weird. They kept hanging out. They kept drinking. We finally had to ask them to leave, feigning a "staff meeting," but later that night they came back and were caught prowling around our cabins looking for either 1) more free-flowing booze or 2) available ladies. The latter was probably the result of an answer by our news editor, who responded to one of the young men's questions with "All ladies are single until they tell you they're with someone." We dubbed our new uninvited buddies "the massagynists." (I guess you had to be there. It was funny when we came up with it.)
Not that the BW staff are drunks, but I am amazed at how much beer, bourbon, vodka, Jaegermeister and tobacco products were consumed during the 60-hour marathon. Our saving graces were the nearby hot tubs and natural sauna to purge the toxins from our body. Despite the consumption, (almost) no one vomited-a sign of an experienced crew. Sometime next fall-about the time we finally recover from this retreat-we should be ready for the next one.