Friday, November 28, 2008

The ABC's of Treasure Hunting - "C"

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If this is not the case, we will remove it upon request. That's the promise of our compromise.

"C" is for "Compromising"

Humans are social animals - we need people around us - not all the time, but most of the time. People come in all kinds but always belonging to "one kind" or another. We also want relationships - many kinds - but always at least one that we can keep going for as long as possible. The key to achieving that is remembering "to compromise".

The need to accommodate others, the need to be tolerated and the need to give-and-take cannot be over-emphasised. There just isn't anything else more crucial in ensuring that we never be deprived of our instinctive needs to be acknowledged and accepted.

In treasure hunting - it is absolutely vital - top of the list - incomparable to any other factors for ensuring enjoyment, peace and success (to those who so desire it).

It matters not who are in a team - whether newbies, rookies, regulars, veterans or super-veterans - any combination - no matter for how long they have been hunting together - first time, some time, every time - compromising is always the key operative word.

It begins at the beginning - shall I go or not this weekend? Golf or Treasure Hunt? Family Day or Treasure Hunt? Babysit or Treasure Hunt? Boy/Girl Friend's Invite or Treasure Hunt? Mum's Birthday or Treasure Hunt? Business or Treasure Hunt? Work or Treasure Hunt? Church or Treasure Hunt? Her/His Decision or Mine?

You have your own respectable answer to that - I have mine. Not volunteering anything for you here.

Having got past the internal organic battles fought back and forth between the ears, between the lungs and behind the belly-button, you may face yet another compromising demand. Selecting which hunt to go when there is a clash - the decision is made again with compromises - like succumbing to the strong desire of one or two of the members, but usually more like the rest accommodating the strongest convincing "voice". "Or shall we split up and go for both hunts?"

And what about the situation, where someone has to be sacrificed because of a passport requirement? Who gives in? Some may tell me those are all the functions of democracy - I call them "obligatory compromises".

Nobody likes to break up a team - and decisions like these always present opportunities for straining the team's comradeship. To survive, just have to avoid it at all cost - choose compromise, not demise.

How about those who are never with a complete team - either short of 1 or 2 other members? The ritual of looking for team members takes a heavy mental toll on the "leader" - a compromised choice by itself, I am sure. The leader sieves through the community, making all the phone calls ($$$ and saliva) to try to fill the important vacancies.

After a few "sorry", "already joining team xxx" and "got to babysit" - your team is formed. And the greatest need for compromise is now demanded of the team members - you have new people or never-hunted-with-before people in your team. For the luckier few - a grand-master joins in - but never hunted before with these people. Would that be a case of reversed compromise?

Then there's the question of who is going to register (pay first)? Who will attend the briefing (and thus use up time, petrol, parking, fighting traffic, escape from office, etc)? Who will carry all the weighty goody-bags home? Who will circulate the "brief summary"? It's a dirty job - but someone has to do it. Volunteers? No - it is always someone who is most willing to be compromised. Sacrificed maybe? Just one more thing - whose car shall we use - and the "accounting" thoughts creep in!

If your team can get this far - that's a lot of compromising already before the start of the hunt!


Hunt day presents a new set of situations where the big "C" word rules the day - and so very early in the day too. Who is going to pick up whom? All drive to the starting point? Sleep sacrificed for the "shuttle driver"? Can I claim back some Km's for the extra pick-up routes?

The team is all set - each taking up their positions in the hunting car. No problems here? Wrong! Many of us have favourite positions in a car - front or rear and of course the driver's. But because this is a team who is out to do their best, to challenge the rest - some positions have to be compromised for the "best person in the best seat".


Navigator takes the front passenger. But that is also the best spot for the best spotter - clear 270 degrees view! But the best spotter is not necessarily the best navigator! How? Compromise.

The researchers need space - lots of it if they bring along their home library. Then left side or right side? Right side (behind the driver) is often the least "worked" side. Somehow COCs tend to use signs on the left more than those on the right, unless there aren't any signs on the left. So, who takes left? Usually the researcher who spots well does. Otherwise - compromise! Rotation during the hunt is also an option to consider.

And that leaves the driver. Who drives? Usually it is the owner of the car - but what if s/he is not confident? Compromise! A big sacrifice too, if the driver happens to be the best solver, spotter and researcher (the one with the google machine)!

Your team is sorted out by now? Good! Then, let's start hunting!

"Someone please read questions 1, 2 and 3!" "Hello?" "What's Q1?" Who is going to read out to those who don't have the extra copies? Let me guess - the one who reads it first, will be reading it forever! No wonder, a sputtering start to the day!

This next part - everyone is familiar with it. There are two or more possible answers to Q1. Which shall be the correct one? How do you decide? But there are two that seems to fit exactly!

Really? Or was it more like "made to appear to fit exactly"? Stay objective - stick to the "must fit every word" rule - can't go wrong, right? Wrong! Humans have the uncanny ability to "fulfill their own prophecy" and every single argument appears valid and uncompromisable. Somehow, for every argument there will be a counter-argument. Cruel COC!

Compromise reached by balloting often ends the verbal battles but may not win it for the team. This remains the most prominent challenge of any team. It is the situation where human values are tested to the max! Do you give-and-take? Do you put your foot down? Do you stay your stand? Sit on the fence? Keep quiet? Restrain spontaneous reactions from your hurt ego? Let it all out! Or do you try to referee?

After all that - do we still want to hunt together again? Whatever it is - for the sake of humanity and the survival of the human kind - and of course, the longevity of the Game, always let Compromise rule and over-rule!

Throughout the game, one of the biggest debates will be around strategies - the overall masterplan or sub-masterplan. Experience is often quoted as the best teacher, the constant reminder and the best scapegoat! When any strategy fails - blame it on "not learning from experience". When it goes right, "See! I told you! We have done it before and it is right again!" Well, at least it was about "we"!

You have heard of how treasures were won or lost at the 7-11s or hypermarts. How about the one about spies operating at the COC's treasure collection desk, at the finishing point? Observe more attentively the next time - spot the hovering "eagles", circling the "treasure chest", hoping to catch a telling glimpse of the quarries brought in by other "eagles". Then watch them frantically radioing their partners still out in the field - tipping them on what to get immediately and to bring in as the "missing prize".

Is that legal? Absolutely - there are no rules that say hunters cannot be at the finishing point to watch the proceedings. Did the COC do enough to prevent it? That's the right question! Ethical? One person's meat is another's poison. Would that be integrity compromised or sheer grit? Who's calling the bluff now?

And of all the important strategies debated, the one pertaining to "the End game" is the most crucial. Recently, hunts are getting tougher and tighter - more work, less time - resulting in teams rushing to the finish line to avoid time penalties and more frighteningly - DQ.

To me, this is the most difficult part of the game and the team that compromises the best stands the best chance of gaining advantages over others. Like the wisdom for health and diseases, prevention is better than cure. Avoid getting into this situation.

For instance, one may contemplate : do we drop someone off to get the treasures and lose a pair of eyes and half-a-brain? Do we split up and tackle two separate but neighbouring sectors - and lose two pairs of eyes and a whole brain? Shall we just drop the questions and concentrate on the treasures? The wrong compromise in opinion may just turn out to be the most regrettable.

Compromising is not always just a hunter's thingy. It is often the COC's too. And sometimes even the organisers. They are the jury, judge and executioner. Whatever they think is an acceptable alternative answer, the final scores of protesting teams, the "best" solution to a controversy - they often compromise one team to satisfy another or others, and to my observation, often because of the need to save face.

Potential winning teams can be unfairly compromised because of the immense pressure on the COCs to be decisive. Contentions sometimes spread to the last agenda - the fairness of prize distribution.

Solution? Invoke "The decision of the COC and the organisers is final" rule , the "skirt" to hide behind whenever one is caught in a compromising position! And why not - how else to ensure embarrassing controversies do not boil over in highly visible public events like treasure hunts - especially when those also have media coverage?

That's "C" ... and the ABC's of Treasure Hunting. Do I dare move on to "DEF"? Only if I can find a compromise somewhere. You want to help me?

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