Saturday, April 14, 2007

eggs in one basket

My work team is moving to a new building. Yesterday afternoon, as professional movers burst into our cubicle and lifted our packed boxes onto trolleys, I took my laptop to main campus to work from an isolated conference room.

Four hours later, ravenous, I instant messaged Sha-mayn and then Dan to get dinner with me.

After being summarily rejected, I sat for a moment at the long conference table, staring at ethernet cables and laptop power connectors spewing from its middle like entrails. Why would I feel so disconnected from the world due to a simple fact of not having a cubicle to call home?

It is perhaps the danger of deriving the majority of your friendships from work.

I remembered Dan's words from 1999, when he left Microsoft to co-found a startup. One of the hardest things, he told me, was going to work every day to the same eight people, day in and day out.

"Don't you work in the same building as other startups?" I said. "How's that different from when you worked at MS?"

"It's not the same. At Microsoft there were always people I'd greet in the hallway or kitchen, or that I'd chat with in the cafeteria."

I understood this last night, in a froth of insight and hunger.

Then I walked outside, and immediately ran into my ex-roommate, a Googler, who invited me to dinner with her husband (also a Googler) and their half-dozen Googler friends. We went to a shanghai noodle shop.

And now I'm about to go eat with 25 Chinese engineers from Google. Because I've learned nothing about diversification from this experience.

13 comments:

Alex said...

Self-sufficiency is the key. Having lots of material possessions, a great career, a fun social life, and lots of good friends is wonderful, but if you can't be happy without these things, you'll never be truly happy even when you do have them.

macrobiotus said...

I wonder if the word happy would describe life in a sensory deprivation chamber, wherein time and death are no longer differentiable states. Does the mere fact of existance make one happy?

Alex said...

Given that happiness is the neurological manifestation of physical and emotional well-being, and given that chronic deprivation of vital sensations would cause emotional and most likely physical distress (try sitting on your leg for a while so that you lose sensation there - not pleasant!), I don't think that a life spent in a sensory deprivation chamber would be a happy one for the vast majority of people.

Cubicle mover said...

Oddly...

I studied hard. Masters degree..
Highly skilled, still study everyday even though done with formal education.

My friend.. High school dropout.. Moves cubicles for a living...

Lives in a 5 million dolar house in Woodside with riding stables and guest houses. Has 2 other houses on the lake and boats.. all of the toys...

The guy who cuts my grass lives next door to him works 4 six hour days per week... No stress. No dead lines...

His worse day is a lawn mower will not start.. $ 200 at home depot fixes that..

I think in my next life I will move cubicles or mow lawns.

Anonymous said...

So does being friends with Forrest Gump make you happy, Cubicle Mover?

Anonymous said...

Cubicle Mover, if you believe these friends of yours, I have a number of emails in my inbox from African gentlemen that might be of interest to you.

Happy Rich Dude said...

@Alex: Dude, you are full of it!

Life without the good stuff isn't worth living. I should know. A couple years ago I was abducted by aliens and subsequently lost my family, my job, and my home. I spent many months living on the streets, and during that time I was not happy at all.

However, I now pull in seven figures each year by fishing shiny objects out of garbage bins for an hour a day. I live on a huge yaught, surrounded by my harem of supermodel girlfriends, and spend my evenings at parties with the likes of Paris Hilton and Tara Reid (who FYI are very interesting and well-adjusted young ladies).

I could tell you a thing or two about happiness, but it would probably only cause me to be hounded even more than I already am by the paperazzi, so I won't.

Anonymous said...

My happiness is dependent on the number of marriage proposals I receive from anonymous strangers on the internet to such an extent that if the rate at which I receive them drops below 50 per second, an alarm sounds in my house, and big red lights start to flash. I immediately post pictures of myself on my blog and elsewhere until the situation is rectified. Then I go back to being blissfully happy.

metal said...

not sure I see the problem. you got rejected for dinner, felt sad for a short time and you found someone else to get dinner with.

I'm not too knowledgable about google, but I'm willing to guess its an enormous company.

Saying all your friends are from work in this case is like going to UCLA and saying all your friends are from UCLA. Its such a big environment that it really waters down the problem.

KE Liew said...

happiness means one differently to another. even so, momentary happiness isn't what living is all about...

Aslam Khan said...

personally i liked the sex in church and the linux funny to start with.....

do visit my blog, just started writing,,,its so cool in here, bcos of this arctic weather, my writng style is still trishanku style and jittery.

http://routinespices.blogspot.com/

Aslam Khan said...

well going out with friends from other organisation would help do u think.......as far as u enjoy the company it should not matter...

Oscar said...

Well, at least you haven't had to deal with longtime "work friends" getting laid off. Do you stay in touch? How about if work is what you primarily had in common. Any mention of the company may just bring bitterness. Oh, and the survivor guilt. I am sure that it will be quite a long time until Google has a lay off. But, still --- diversify.