I think I may have figured out what 'team player' might mean in the work world.
Two events that might demonstrate: the first is when we had a potluck lunch where staff is encouraged to bring something in to share. I was asked on multiple occasions if I was bringing anything and I said I might but hadn't really intended to. Instead I wanted to see how it worked and then participate in the next one. Do I leave the food out when I come in? Or set up during lunch time? Who's lunch time? We all take different times for lunch so I found it a bit confusing. So I ended up not participating even though everyone else did. Now that I know how it works I will bring something next time.
The next is the Saturday shift. When I was hired I was asked if I would work one Saturday a year for their big scratch and save day. At the time of the interview I thought it would be no problem. I mean, my regular shift is full time Monday to Friday and I thought one extra day wouldn't be too bad. Except it's been a month and the cement floors are killing me. I work in a home renovation store (in the back returning stuff to the vendor) and I am required to wear steel toed boots...and walk around on cement floors. I can sit for the bulk of my job but when the receiver needs me to spot him (walk in front of the forklift and gently move customers out of the way) I have to walk clear across the gigantic store and back. Sometimes several times in a row. The arthritis in my back and knees screams at this activity and I spend my evenings moving around like a little old woman.
So when I told my boss that no, I would not be working this Saturday he made a point of reminding me that it was a condition of my being hired. He told me he can't make me work it, but was very disappointed that I wouldn't do it. I asked for a day off (or half day) in lieu so I can recover and he said no. So I'm not working it. But I keep hearing about how much fun it is to work that day. Popcorn, free lunch, veggie trays, busy and fun store. All I think is pesky customers, standing in one place for four hours, and it's my weekend dammit.
But it did occur to me that these things can be considered working on a team. Support you coworkers! Work alongside them to help out! Be cheerful at the thought of potluck lunch! Be a team! This is so not me. I don't share my sandbox very well and I'm hesitant to go into someone else's sandbox.
I am already looking for another job. Partly because I may be fired for not working this Saturday (I'm still in the probationary period and can legally be fired for no reason), and partly because I just can't manage the floors. I'm stuck in a never ending cycle right now: if I don't take a muscle relaxant at bedtime I'm stiff and sore the next day from the arthritis and can't move well, if I do take one then my muscles are rubbery the next day so I can't move well. I'm not sure how the muscle relaxant works with the arthritis but somehow it does.
But I do wonder, where are the jobs that don't require me to be part of the team? I can work very well with other departments - I make their jobs easier by doing little things for them - but working on a team that expects certain behaviours (like participation in events I don't care about) is very hard for me. Even though I've only been at this job for a month there are coworkers that have pointed out to me that I'm not much of a team player. I didn't think I was showing it that much :(