Reading & Writing Assignment (3) – Cups & Ice

We wouldn’t spend time reminding you how practicing a lot of reading and writing is the best way to improve your English (but we just did! :)) and let’s straight away jump into the 3rd assignment.

What will you do in this assignment? – You would read about an interesting situation or a story, maybe watch a clip on it, and then answer a question based on what you read and saw. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Today’s situation

‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ is one of the most popular TV series of all times. Set in New York, it is the story of 6 friends and their intertwined lives. Joey is an (aspiring) actor, Phoebe is a masseuse (a woman, who provides massage professionally) and a hobby singer, Ross is a paleontologist (someone who studies fossils), his sister Monica is a chef, Rachel works at a Fashion brand, and Chandler is err… no one really knows what he does :). Each episode (and almost every scene) is filled with humor and often leaves you with an important lesson about friendship and life.

In this particular episode, Monica & Phoebe decide to throw a surprise birthday party for Rachel. They are supposed to be working on this ‘project’ together with shared responsibilities but Monica, being the control freak she is, takes charge of almost everything and leaves Phoebe with the ‘menial’ responsibility of looking after cups and ice. Monica is not a bad person, it is just that she wants everything to be perfect and has difficulty in delegating (passing down) ownership of anything to others for the fear that they would either mess it up or would not do as good a job as she could.

Phoebe, rightfully angry, takes this in her stride and the tables are turned when the actual party takes place. How? Watch the clip and see for yourself :)

Question for you– You may have worked on group assignments and projects in school and college yourself. What are the different kinds of ‘characters’ among your team members that you remember dealing with and how you dealt with them? Describe in detail (min. 200 words). Remember, this can also be an HR question in one of your interviews. :)

In case you can not think of an interesting group project story from your life, imagine yourself to be in Phoebe’s position (before the party happened) where you are really upset with Monica’s way of handling the situation. Write a letter to Monica telling her how you feel, why you feel that way, and what do you expect Monica to do. Your answer should be minimum 200 words long.

You can also read fellow students’ answers in comments (but do so only after you have submitted your own answer so that you don’t get influenced by what others wrote). We also encourage you to share your feedback, appreciation and thoughts against others’ answers. Remember, it is a community effort and we are all in it together :). Only when you participate, you can expect others to participate and share feedback on what you wrote. Deal?

To read the next article of the series in which we talk about using active and passive voice effectively, click on the next button below. To go back to the earlier article, click on the previous button.

20 thoughts on “Reading & Writing Assignment (3) – Cups & Ice

  • October 15, 2016 at 4:21 PM

    When I was in Class V, we were divided into groups of 5 for an EVS project on “houses around the world” and our team’s topic was “Igloo”. One of my teammates had joined our school recently and was an introvert. She did not join any of us for games nor did she talk to us much. But since she was on our team, we had to plan everything together. On the first day, during the EVS period, we read about Iceland and had a discussion. We noticed that our new classmate was not participating in any discussions and this continued for 2 days.

    On the 3rd day, we thought that she would open up if she became our friend. During the lunch break, we asked her to join but when she did not, we went and sat next to her. We used to share our tiffin-boxes and soon started bombarding her with questions about her last school, favorite subject and so on! She soon let go her subdued self and started chatting and even joined us during the games period.

    On the 5th day, in the EVS period, we started making the Igloo with cardboards and chart paper. We were thinking on what to cover the Igloo with so that it would look exactly like ice when our friend suggested that we take cotton and paste it with glue! We were happy that she was not just participating with us but also suggested such a great idea. We completed the project on time. Our EVS teacher assessed all the projects and announced our team as the winner.

    That day, I understood that not everyone is alike in the world and to make small things happen, you need to help and understand people around you. After all, it is exactly like H.Jackson Brown, an American author once said – “Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them”.

  • October 15, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    Our school had a “Science Fair” every year. Each class was divided into 4 teams and each team had to prepare a fun experiment which they showcased to hundreds of parents and other visitors in the event. It was also a competition so we took it very seriously. Each year we did a different experiment but few characters remained consistent. Below I am listing a few memorable characters from different teams I was a part of:

    THE NAYSAYER: This person found fault with every idea we came up with. “There’s no way we can pull it off. Our seniors tried it last year and they failed”. “Our laboratory doesn’t have the apparatus required for that one. I checked 3 years ago”. “Oh, my mom would never let me do that”. And, she never proposed an idea herself. She only liked to put other people’s ideas down.

    How we dealt with her: We prompted her to come up with a solution every time she had a problem with any idea. We also encouraged her to come up with ideas of her own if she didn’t like somebody’s else’s. Usually, making her responsible for the ideation part solved the problem entirely.

    THE COMPETITOR: She was extremely competitive about everything. She would put in so much time and effort trying to figure out what other teams were doing that she had neither of those for her own team.

    How we dealt with her: She was strictly not allowed to discuss anything experiment-related to members of any other team.

    THE DATA LOGGER: She liked to jot things down in her diary. In fact, that’s all she ever did. She started with writing the name of the experiment (then decorated it). Then she would proceed to document every little (sometimes highly unnecessary) detail of the experiment.

    How we dealt with her: There wasn’t much to be done. In a way, it helped the team that she liked to put everything on paper. We made her “the manager”.

    THE FANTASIZER: This person knew nothing about feasibility. She put forward science project ideas that were way too far fetched for a team of school students. Then she would brood over how nobody even considered her ideas. “I don’t understand why all of you think that a robot that greets the visitors with backflips is not a good idea.”
    Needless to say, she didn’t get along with the Naysayer.

    How we dealt with her: Mostly, we simply asked her to go talk to the Naysayer about it. Problem solved!

  • October 16, 2016 at 3:42 AM

    In my first year in college, as a part of the Tech fest Sponsorship team, I came across these few characters:

    THE OVERCONFIDENT ONE: The one with all the promises and so-called ‘connections’, the big-shot, but just like the cheap Diwali rocket, he burst even before taking off.

    How we dealt with him: Noise cancellation is what we did. Towards the end, his overconfidence got the better of him and he discovered a new human quality called ‘humility’.

    THE (NOT) TEAM PLAYER: Riding solo was his thing, the word teamwork did not exist in his dictionary. He would never share the progress of his work as he feared that it would be jinxed or his team members would take away his credit.

    How we dealt with him: We showed him that collective effort bears juicier fruits. And FYI we did not take away his credit, not because there was nothing there for us to take away from, but because it’s ethically wrong.

    THE ANXIOUS ONE: The one who would always carry a dose of valium to calm his nerves, who, at the slightest hint of uncertainty will tear the roof apart.

    How we dealt with him: Sleeping Pills. Just kidding! :P We faked getting equally nervous with him to make it look like a natural feeling. That way it was easier for us to calm him down and start focusing on what’s important together.

    THE INDECISIVE ONE: He had the talent to agree as well as disagree with the same thing depending upon the opinion of the person asking the question. He was a confused soul with no stand of his own.

    How we dealt with him: When he agreed or disagreed we made sure that he had a reason to justify his response. This way he started paying more attention and thus giving more honest responses.

    THE LEADER: The person who held the team together and gave us a sense of direction towards achieving our common goal. We started off as individuals with individual goals but under his guidance we left together as a team.

    How he dealt with us: A lot of Patience! :D

  • October 18, 2016 at 7:49 AM

    Since there are quite a few blog comments on different characters that one could encounter while working on a group project or assignment, I would like to attempt the 2nd (alternative) assignment.

    Dear Monica,

    I am very upset with you since the meeting we had regarding Rachel’s surprise birthday party plan. I feel angered and disappointed by your obsession to take control of everything around you.

    We are supposed to be co-host for this surprise party, share the responsibilities, and be accounted for our share of tasks. Unfortunately, you want to take charge of all the things. In your opinion, I am only as good as to take care of cups and ice. I feel sad that you think I cannot take charge of any of the important things like theme, food, music or cake. I am more than just cups and ice.

    I admire your quest for perfection and can understand your fear of people messing up with the things. But, this habit of yours is unfair towards the people who work with you on a group assignment. You need to let go of things.

    Yes, people may make mistakes but that’s how we learn. Allowing others to share the work will reduce some of your efforts and save you a lot of time and energy. Most importantly, it’s a right thing to do and reveals your trust in their abilities.

    I know you have understood my concerns. Let’s meet again and redo the party plan.


  • March 8, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    It happened in my 8th semester. As usual, I and my project partners (three of us) did not bother about our project, so one fine morning we were called to our department (Computer science engineering department) to meet our guide Dr Abha Choubey. Following our discussion on the project, we were joined by a friend who was also there to ask her how to proceed with his project. We had no clue he was working on an individual project.

    After the discussion, we all went to the canteen and me and my partners decided to somehow persuade this guy to let us be a part of his project. Since project sessional was the only thing we were bothered about, we agreed to his terms and conditions which included tasks like washing his clothes for the next two months, dropping him to college, and cooking his lunch every day. At the end semester, he gave us the following nicknames and put it up on the hostel wall with our pictures:

    The washing machine – The guy who washed my clothes ultra clean with his muscular hands. Your gym training paid off.
    The driver – Smooth with words and smooth rides. I think your bike is the only reason you have a girlfriend.
    The cook – I think you should leave engineering and become a chef. Your food tastes just like my mother’s.

    We enjoyed our time and thanks to him we all got really good marks in our project sessionals.

  • March 11, 2017 at 1:17 PM

    It was the time when I was in 10th standard an inter house quiz competition took place and hour an hour before I was informed that I was the member of team with three others and I got stunned after listening that.The quiz comprised of biological questions. Though I had a interest in biology but I got nervous. In fifteen minutes I went through crucial topics according to me in my biology book. Now I am going to describe the next three members of my team.

    VV- He was a boy with neutral nature. He do not have any zeal or enthusiasm for the quiz. Victory or defeat don’t bother him at all as he was not interested in biology. He was just their for our support and God knows for what type. But he was courageous and didn’t show a sign of nervousness on a face despite of the fact that he knew nothing about the topic.

    MT- He was mostly similar to the VV in nature except he has a rough knowledge about some of the topics of biology. But he mostly focuses on his football tactics and can spend whole day playing it.
    I suggested him to go through some topics but he denied and replied that “leave it on GOD”.

    JA- She was the one who showed some interest in the quiz and supported me. She too had a interest in Biology like me and I too had confident on her as she was among the bright students in the class. We discussed some common topics and strategies we could use in minimum time and we did it successfully. Her dedication towards the quiz in fact motivated me towards winning it.

    The quiz started after half an hour and there were four teams including others. At the beginning it was the total collapse for us as we just answered only few questions. In the rapid fire round we gained momentum and reached the second place as I knew most of its answers. And in the last round we won and guess what ?. It was the VV and MT who made it for us in the last round whom we took for granted. So overall I can say that each one of team member has got some potential and we just need the right coordination at that moment to just plan whose role will suit where and when.

  • March 19, 2017 at 11:58 PM

    When I was in last year of my college, I worked on a project “Diabulin” in a team of four. Initially, our team had four members I, Aman, Mrinal, and Ojasvi. We used to work on different ideas, participate in national level competitions and our ultimate goal was to win those competitions. So, we participated in one competition called “Enginx” which was organized by TCS. We submitted this project in the same competition and got shortlisted among top 50 teams in India. For top 10 positions, we worked really hard but unfortunately, we were not able to make it to finals. We were totally disheartened and two of our team members (Mrinal and Ojasvi) left the project.
    Then again one competition came “Innovation Jockeys 4” which was organized by Accenture. I and Aman never lost the hope to win the competitions. We asked many people to join us and finally, we got two more members Vikas and Swaraj (our juniors). The submission date came closer and we were left with only 10 days in which we had to do the documentation, design the product, develop the video and had to design a complete prototype with the mobile application. We used to work day night. we had a lot of pressure to complete the project on time. The other team members used to fight every day and our juniors used to say we are not going to work anymore. So many times our project got ruined and that time we used to think, would we be able to submit it on time? But finally we were done with the hardware device 3 days before the and I was done with the documentation part but I was still left with the 3D model of the device and its presentation video. I learned 3D modeling software in just 2 days because of Aman’s chide. Aman used to yell at me and other team members but at the same time, he taught us a lot. I tried to handle all that with a lot of patience and designed the 3 D model of our device.
    But the story didn’t end up here all of sudden just two days before the submission our main device stopped working and we were able to judge why it was not working. Then we still didn’t loose the hope and figured out the problem. Then finally we submitted our project and got selected among top 15 teams in India and each of us got Kindle as our reward from Accenture. We did our success party after that and learned so many lessons while working on that project.

  • March 22, 2017 at 9:08 PM

    In 5th semester like everyone, we started a project.At 1st we decided our group members, and we ended with five boys.we don’t care about the project seriously, no one took any responsibility since we started.It will take 3 months to decide the topic of our projects, after selecting the project everyone got a role to do to complete this project early.Like me, no one did anything still now.we have only 1 month to finish it, We are helpless now, nothing to do it about.I wish the project teacher will give more time to us.

  • March 22, 2017 at 10:12 PM

    Dear Monica,

    I want you to know that you are one of my best friend but there is one thing that I have never liked about you and this time, it has made me very upset.

    We all know that you are a perfectionist and like to handle things on your own and the way you liked them to be handled or executed. But, you need to understand that others might also give you a better idea and capable of execution. Not only that, there might be a possibility that person is able to pull off the event better than you.

    We planned to organize Rachel’s birthday party together but when it came to what needs to be done and how it is to be done, you seemed to have planned it all without even telling/asking me. This is wrong, Monica. You need to be more open about certain things.

    As you are my friend, I am telling you this. When it comes to planning, you get involved into so much that unintentionally you end up hurting other person many times by not evening listening to their plan. It is good to be a perfectionist but anything of too much is bad and this also shows that you are not open to new idea or a suggestion (no matter how much you claim that you are), we all know this. You know, by delegating the responsibilities you help the other person to grow too. So what if they mess one time, at least you are sure that next time they will not make the same mistake and will assist you better.

    I want you to please think over it and try to be more open next time on wards.

    Phoebe :)

  • July 5, 2017 at 1:00 AM

    Hey Monica,
    Thanks for considering me a futile co-host for this event. I now that your quality of being a perfectionist is in the top most priority of your list. Also you have an immense potential along with the boundless energy to execute any task perfectly, but sometimes it is better keep your cup empty to fill in other’s ideas which might be better than your’s.
    I know that you are a good person with a golden heart, but while working in a team you should work as a team member or a team captain(if you wish to be a leader of a team) considering every contribution as equal as your’s and not depicting yourself as a king. Your’s “I want to have control on all things” behavior might portray you as a rude or ruthless character and can hide your positive side.
    Being a friend, I will pardon you for this and can guide you towards the right path, but not everyone in this world has a forgiving attitude. Please do think over it as repeating same mistakes again is a crime :P

  • October 28, 2017 at 7:12 PM

    Dear Monica,
    I want to say one thing that you are a control freak.You didn’t give me any chance to contribute for the party.You made me upset by doing the whole task done by you leaving nothing to do.Rachel is a friend to both of us and I am interested to work for the party.

  • March 5, 2018 at 11:10 AM

    Dear Monica,

    Since you have given no responsibility for the upcoming birthday party of Rachel, I am really disappointed with you, I know you want things to be perfect and in your perfect way, but this does not mean you would take away my part of co-hosting the party.
    You have this great trait for making things perfect but you do not feel it sometimes that it can backfire on you too. I hope you got my point, ms perfectionist.


  • September 28, 2018 at 3:39 PM

    In my frist year in clg, I have a group of five people and we are meet at the Frist day of clg and till now we are frinds . In the clg what ever the event or activity is organised we are always participate in a group. Frist we take part in tech fest and prepare a group dance and also take part in fashion show , we are always work in group,then second time we are prepared a group presentation and that time we got the Frist prize . If any issue happen with anyone we all are faced it . after tech fest all of us knowing .we all are best friends forever.

  • February 21, 2019 at 3:24 PM

    Nice post thanks for sharing this valuable post

  • April 23, 2019 at 7:18 PM

    Dear Monica,
    I know you care about your works so much and you always want that it should be perfect always. But work always done in group of people. If you are doing the small work, then you can do alone no problem in the that. But its the birthday party, so many people get involved in this and it is tough to manage them all. And you told me to help you out in the decoration then why don’t you take my help. You are giving me to manage the cups and ice only. If we are working together then we should divide the jobs. Don’t be so selfish always. I know you manage things more perfect than but always involve everyone so that no one feel angry from you.

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