I received this fantastic report from Tallyhead WiseWithWorms, who also happens to be regional manager for the Marietta branch of Dunder Mifflin Infinity.
The online Office Fan Base Dunder-Mifflin Infinity plays host to 100 fictional branches, encouraging participation in fun games and social networking, much like the original Scranton branch does. Some branches take their participation at the base level, but for the final episode of The Office Season 5, one branch decided to celebrate in style!
The Marietta Branch of Dunder Mifflin Infinity chose to plan a Meet and Greet at the location of their Branch’s mascot, the Big Chicken, which is located in Marietta, GA. The Big Chicken is famous as a popular Georgia landmark and also as a useful way to give directions in town. “Turn left at the Big Chicken” has been uttered many times in this town.
The employees of DMI Marietta made plans to meet in Marietta several months in advance, with enough time for everyone to set the day aside and plan the day. While most users lived in the Atlanta/Marietta area, several branch members (including the Regional Manager, WiseWithWorms) had to make 5+ hour trips to attend.
As May 30th approached, the excitement grew in the forums and several members thought of new ways to make this trip even more special, including an Office marathon at a local restaurant and a Café Disco Party in WiseWIthWorms and Hearttwozero’s hotel room. After the airing of The Office Season 5 finale, the branch members all agreed: “We should get Company picnic t-shirts!”
As the t-shirts neared completion, excitement rose in the forums as members couldn’t wait to meet individuals who, up until this point, they had only shared virtual humor and creative moments with.
On the day of May 30th, the weather was sunny and warm. The Big Chicken was open for business, selling KFC to Mariettans in usual fashion. An hour before the scheduled time, several branch members arrived to decorate a small corner of the KFC restaurant with a sign that paid tribute to Dwight Schrute’s classic style: “This is a Meet And Greet.”
One by one, members of DMI Marietta arrived at the restaurant and met each other, shaking hands and exchanging (real) names. As everyone exchanged pleasantries, all the members sat down to enjoy lunch from KFC. The Regional Manager stood and announced special voting for the branch’s own version of The Dundies. Voting took place immediately and the awards (special Peeps-shaped bottles filled with bubble solution) were passed out.
After taking group pictures, the party moved to a local bar farther down the street, where a collection of tables and a TV were reserved for an Office Marathon. More than 4 hours were spent getting to know each other while enjoying episodes from Season 2 and Season 3 of the Office. Everyone who attended enjoyed participating in sing-along’s of “Ryan Started the Fire” and many other memorable moments of the Office. The members even took part in a “That’s What She Said” Competition over the course of the evening, where the current winner would receive a “That’s what she said” sign to hold as a badge of pride and honor.
As the party died down, those who were left retired to a hotel room for their own version of “Café Disco,” complete with a Lei worth respecting and music worth dancing to. The party finally ended at 2:30am, when most retired to their homes or hotel rooms.
The members of DMI Marietta enjoy their branch because of the closeness it requires to make a good team. “When I fell in love with The Office, none of my friends or family members understood my obsession. I felt quite alone. Then I found DMI, and especially the Marietta Branch. I chose Marietta because it’s not too far from my real home, it’s Southern, and I really like the Atlanta area. More important, I stayed in Marietta because of the warm welcome I received from WiseWithWorms — our awesome RM — and all the other Big Chickens. Now I count myself lucky to have an amazing group of friends who love The Office every bit as much as I do,” says DMI user, NotaBadDay.
It’s because of that closeness that members chose to make a trip like this. To do more than just watch a TV show, but to meet people who they had shared jokes, stories, prayer requests and good news with. Branch member Jadeling said, “I’ve always had fun with the games on DMI, but never have I ever felt such pride in any sort of online group as I feel for my fellow Big Chickens.”
Because of the closeness of its members, DMI Marietta has become more than another online community, it has become a group of friends who share not just the love of the Office, but their love for other things as well. When people log in to check their Schrutebucks, or to see the latest joke in the forums, it’s like what Michael Scott said: “You know that you’re home.”