Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to the Chocolate Factory again

Another day, another visit to Google. It was a beautiful sunny day, the androids at the ground floor reception area were less enraged/enraging than yesterday, and we got to our meeting with a minimum of pain and fuss.

Our meeting was with a very cheery chap, and afterwards he took us to lunch. That's not quite as generous as it sounds, because it was lunch at Google's canteen, rather than a posh restaurant where they muddle up my order and bring me venison when I asked for a pasta salad.

Google's famous for all its free food, and that's well and good, but it does feel a little bit like school dinner time: everyone crowded into the room at once, with their trays of food. As it's Singapore, there was of course somebody claiming a table by leaving something on it, although it was her purse (Singaporeans usually 'chope' with a packet of tissues - I suppose the Googlers are more affluent than the guys at the hawker centre). Every time I've eaten at Google, I've had the same thing to eat, and I'm not sure if that's because there's few vegetarian options, or because I always go on the same day of the week, or because it's a really accurate simulation of a very unimaginative canteen. Perhaps I should get a free massage and just shut up.

I seemed to have scored some points with the man we met, because I was carrying a notepad with a Google logo on it. Being quite abrasive, I was rueing not packing a Yahoo pen or a pair of Microsoft trousers. Maybe next time. He was so happy that he took us on a tour of the games room, which turned out to be a ping pong table, two table football tables and a Google Earth flight simulator. I wish that had involved a table too, so I could get the word 'table' into a sentence four times, but that was not to be.

On the one hand, it's nice to have all this free food and ways to relax; on the other, would you really get all that much done, or would you rather get home earlier or dick around longer with some 'free' games that cost you some time? Or, is it possible that it's the Silicon Valley version of a Potemkin village, and the moment we leave the facility, iron shutters slam down and a giant animatronic Larry Page starts shouting at all the Googlers about what worthless scum they are and how they need to knuckle down and work harder and eat less?

Maybe I should start drinking coffee again after all.


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