March 27, 2007

Snails

Met two Googleguys last week.

One's an old friend, now employed at Google, who invited me to lunch with him at Google. So I showed up outside Building 44, gratified first of all to find that when he showed up, his jacket was even more yellow-with-blue-lining than mine. We walked in and I typed my name -- at Google, why not my gmail id? -- into a box on a screen, whereupon a neatly printed badge gushed from a pint-sized printer. This got slapped on my yellow jacket, and we proceeded.

First stop, a unisex toilet. The inside of the door has a notice about a bug that's pending, or fixed, or desirable, or something. Reading material for toilet time, of course. Outside are a number of the semi-famous yellow (but not as yellow as my jacket) Google scooters. We walk across to the main Google building(s), passing on the way an inordinate number of cheery folks wearing Google-labeled clothing.

First stop there, a screen with a rotating globe with multicoloured rays shooting out into space from much of our planet's land masses. One colour per language, the length of each ray representing the number of Google search queries from that spot on the planet. I am thrilled to learn that, a few days earlier, my search in Rodanthe, North Carolina, probably contributed one entire pixel to one ray on this display. Simultaneously, a wall nearby shows a continuously scrolling list of queries submitted to Google. I am thrilled to learn that, a few days earlier, this wall might have momentarily displayed my query from Rodanthe: "adult movie theatres near rodanthe".

Nearby is the glass wall of a cubicle from inside which a man waves cheerily to us. Stuck on the wall is this: "Please do not tap on the glass. It disturbs the fish." Lying outside another cubicle is a handsome Labrador. The dog's leash is, naturally, labelled "Google Google Google ...".

"Pets", says my Googleguy friend, pithily.

At the gym, there's a long row of treadmills, Google employees jogging on each. One has a screen with what looks an ad for an insurance agent. I don't know that I'd want to be jogging while reading insurance ads, but this particular Google employee is staring intently at it while she lopes in place. A walkway between buildings soars past two body-sized wave pools, in one of which a man is swimming furiously. Given the waves, he is not moving an inch. Which is a good thing, of course, because if he did move an inch he would bump his head on the side of the pool. Pacing up and down next to the pool is a man in peaked cap and orange shirt.

"Lifeguard 24/7," says my Googleguy friend, still pithily.

Lunch could be at any of a number of food places, all free. We choose the largest cafe, where the selection ranges from pizza to Polynesian to pasta to Indian, that last with the longest line.

About now, I realize what's nagging at my fading memory cells: MCC. The company I worked for too many years ago in Austin. Gym, pets, cute signs on the walls, informal ambience, choc-chip cookies at team meetings, free drinks, subsidised (not free) food ... MCC treated us well; Google takes that treatment to a new level.

About now, too, I meet the second Googleguy. Young man in shorts and T-shirt comes up to me as I'm stocking up on asparagus, says: "Are you the DD who blogs?"

Demurely, I say I am.

"Oh, I read your blog all the time!" he says. "I read you this morning! I know all about your trouble travelling from Richmond!"

You don't know the half of it, I think, because I haven't finished writing up that story. But out loud, I just smile and mumble a few thanks.

"Welcome to Google!" he says.

Thank you, you who know who you are! Good to visit and good to run into you.

Beside me, the first Googleguy, my old friend, stands with his mouth open. "I don't believe it," he says. "Someone here knows you by name?" I want to say, don't worry, the rest don't know me by name or anything else either. But I just smile again. We find a place to sit, and I work my way through the asparagus.

Charming place, Google. Watch for my next query on that wall.

And a pat on the old back to the first person who can tell me why this post is titled "Snails". Hint: I mean no aspersions or implications in the least.

And since I know you're dying to know: no, I didn't find any adult movie theatres near Rodanthe.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two pat-ibilities:
one Goooooogle logo for search results looks like a snail unrolling to move. Two, All extra-terrestrial Google doodles have snail-like creatures (with antennae).

Madhat said...

?

km said...

Snails

Because Google gets all slimy and gooey when someone sprinkles salt on them?

Dilip D'Souza said...

No, no, no! Not that I note a gush of people falling all over themselves to answer this, but let's give it a little more time.

Hint: language.

Anonymous said...

Escargot?

n!

Amigo said...

Obviously..."Gogalguy"
The Marathi word for "snail"!
Hmm...wonderin how the others ought to figure that out (non-Marathi knowing/speaking junta).

Madhat said...

dilip, are we going to get the answer or do we assume that amigo is right?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Good job, Amigo! Madhat, Amigo's got it on the button. See here.