If you could pick one superpower …

Whenever they hire a new employee at the restaurant, the managers always ask whoever it is on his or her first day to do a little introduction. It’s always in the morning, when all of the staff gets together right before opening, “OK, tell us where you’re from, what’s your sign, your favorite color, and if you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”

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And I get it, you’re not really expecting that superhero question, it’s supposed to be a fun little icebreaker, like, yeah, you have to come here to work every day, so that kind of sucks, but look on the bright side, we’re giving you this neat game to play on the spot in front of all of these people that you just met, and already you’ve forgotten everybody’s names, but don’t think about that right now, don’t be nervous, just come up with a superpower.

Almost everybody says they’d love to fly. “I guess … I’d pick flying powers?” they kind of throw it back to the manger, like is this OK? Flying powers? Is that what you were looking for? And I’m always standing on the sidelines here, I mean, this isn’t my moment in the spotlight, but I always have to fight the urge to get involved.

Because one, you might as well just say pass, because you’re not even trying. And I can kind of get the thought process here. Like I said before, the question is so out of left field, you quickly think about superheroes, maybe you’re not into superheroes, whatever, that’s fine, Superman probably comes to mind first, and he can fly, so flying powers, bingo.

It’s the wording of the question that gets people trapped up. By invoking the term superhero, I think what you’re doing is saying comic books, and it’s like Star Trek, even if you watch Star Trek, even if you’re a huge comic book fan, most people don’t start off an introduction, let alone a mass hello to a group of potential coworkers with an admission that, yes, I like comic books, I know way too much about superpowers.

But maybe if you could make the question not so loaded, like forget about costumes and capes, pretend you don’t know anything about comic books. If you could get your body to do one special thing that nobody else’s bodies could, what would it be? Would it really be the power to fly? Because I don’t think it would be.

And not to get too technical here, but flying by itself wouldn’t be much of a power. You’d need super strength to go along with it here, to be able to sustain that flight for any extended period of time. But even if it’s everything that you thought it would be, I’m still calling bullshit on the flying powers. It’s lazy.

What about ice powers? At least it’s something interesting. And isn’t that the whole point of the superpower icebreaker? Nobody knows who you are, and like or not, this question is the quickest way that we’re all going to be able to make a snap judgment of who you are as a person. Give me something like rocket hands. Don’t even explain what that means, just say, “Rocket hands!” and wait for someone to say, “What’s that mean? Rocket hands?”

And then make something up, because now you’ve got everybody’s attention, which is what everybody wants, it’s the reason we’re doing this icebreaker in the first place, we’re all looking at you, please, give us something, anything to break up the monotony of the workday, come on, don’t say flying powers, please.

And then you say flying powers and everybody’s kind of just like, oh well, looks like this person isn’t going to be too much in the way of making anybody’s lives a little bit more interesting. Of course that’s harsh. I’m just being a jerk now. I think I said flying powers when I first got the job too. And it was only because I seriously had no time to think on my feet like that. I wish they’d given me even five minutes advance notice, to come up with something clever.

It’s been a constant “jerk-store” experience ever since that day two years ago. I’ve thought of what I could have said, or should have said, like rocket hands, I just made that up now, but that would have been great.

Or another one that I thought of a while ago, I’d say, “I’d wish for the power to bring my dead relatives back from the grave,” and then get all sad and quiet. That would be really dark, but still kind of funny, just in the fact that nobody would have seen that coming, like talk about shaking up the nine-to-five, in retrospect something like that would have been hilarious.

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