By Stanley Bing
January 16, 2008

I just got back from a corporate retreat. Here is where it was.


There were many rocks and pretty cacti there. Like these…


… and quite a few meetings. Most of us have known each other for a long time and are fond of each other. So it’s nice to get away and talk about the business, try to breathe a little and get the focus back on the big picture. Sometimes you lose that perspective. All you see are the same buildings and the same computer screens and the same restaurants and the same problems day after day. You forget there’s a wide world out there that smells of sagebrush and wood smoke, and a sky that’s full of stars at night.

In the evening, fat, silly-looking quail came out and skittered around, cooing. Here’s one now.

I’m sorry if she’s a little blurry. Believe me when I tell you she was going fast. About as fast as we go when we’re about our business, I guess, and just as self-important, too. She made little noises as she went along, just as if she had a cell phone, come to think of it. Of course, she didn’t. Maybe she had bluetooth and I just didn’t catch it.

There were jackrabbits munching at the 14th tee at sunset, not far from my room.

It was so quiet there that I could hear them chewing. They were noisy eaters, but no more so than the gang at Michael’s every day when you get right down to it. That night, a few of the younger guys slipped into town to see the sights. I sat out on my patio and listened to the coyotes howl in the spaces between the shopping malls out beyond my window.

The following day, as I was packing to go home, a small committee of javalinas convened on my back porch. Javalina is the Spanish name for the collared peccary, a rough, spiny-haired pig, about two feet high, with a long snout, a big, juicy nose, soulful brown eyes and tiny little high-heel feet. Here is the guy who took the highest profile:

Three of his colleagues were snoring thoughtfully under the tree.

It was quite warm outside, and the sun filtered through the canopy of green above. That’s them, the three large balls of hair and fat stretched out indolently in the shade. Cozy together, aren’t they? Sorry if our vantage point is a little far away, but I’ve always been afraid of being one of those guys killed while on a business retreat or vacation of some kind. I was once nearly knocked off the side of a mountain by an angry ram and have been a bit skittish around large mammals since then. Yesterday, all I had was my little digital Elph and its zoom is merely okay at best.

I got a very big kick out of this one individual. He decided that I might have food. So he stood proudly in the middle of the patio, soaking up the sun a little, showing off. God knows what he thought he was showing off, he’s a pig, after all, but he seemed to want me to notice how splendid he was, so I did.

I particularly liked his snorting, which was by no means overdone. He would approach, do a little warm-up snuffling, let out a good-sized honk, then move off in a dignified fashion to see if I would change my position on the issue. I had no idea what the issue was, so I couldn’t really satisfy him. I wasn’t about to feed him a $21 bag of designer potato chips. It might not have been good for him anyhow.

After a while he decided to go back to his working group and report on his findings, and then no amount of clucking and whistling would make him get up and resume our conversation. It was okay. He looked so comfortable there with all his pals.

I finished packing and checked out. I was sad to leave there, you know, but only a pig thinks that kind of thing lasts forever.

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