So, you all (hopefully) saw my photos yesterday; if you didn't, you may have seen the media coverage about my employer, Google Australia, installing 2 monorail carriages in our new office space yesterday (e.g. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/google-installs-monorail-carriages-in-its-office-20131009-2v7fl.html
Now! For those of you who don't know, confession (and story!) time: this was my fault.
At Google, we have (like most large companies do) an internal ticketing system for keeping track of jobs for our building management team ('Facilities', or 'REWS'). This system is usually populated with requests like, you know, 'the door on level X isn't working properly' or 'the pinball machine isn't working' or 'you know what would be awesome? An electric keyboard. We don't have one, can you buy us one please?' or whatever (all real, recent examples, which all got 'fixed').
Sometimes, though, this ticket system is abused by idiots* trying to be funny.
One such example of this was at the start of this year, when one particular idiot† submitted a ticket into this system pointing out that the NSW and Sydney governments had finally announced their long-anticipated plan to remove and scrap Sydney's defunct, expensive-but-useless monorail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Monorail
— a classic 'white elephant'). At the time, Google Australia had spread from one office building in Pyrmont to two, and there were rumours of a third coming soon, so this idiot suggested that maybe Google should buy
the monorail and install it between the three buildings in a loop, because we're lazy and besides how cool would it be to have a monorail.
Everyone had a chuckle at this lame joke, and then that was it, until
a particularly awesome member of our Facilities team, Alecia, replied to the ticket, giving an hilarious and clever feasibility study as to why purchasing the monorail would be a bad plan (and yes, it did include the phrase "more of a Shelbyville idea"). This reply (which I wish I could share with you, but if nothing else it's filled with Google in-jokes and wouldn't make sense to you all) elevated my stupid facilities ticket into legendary status, where it did the rounds of Google and after about a week I think the whole company had seen it.
Joke dies down, everyone's happy. Until about 3 months ago.
About 3 months ago, Alecia sent me an IM saying "Are you free for a meeting now? And by meeting, I mean 'road trip'." Naturally, I was. I arrived at Alecia's desk (Alecia: "I love that I say 'road trip' and you just turn up without asking what it is."), and we head off. Eventually I ask what we're actually doing, and another colleague who was in on the plan tells me: "Monorail shopping!"
Sure enough, Alecia takes us out to a junkyard near the airport, and we all help choose which two monorail carriages we want to purchase and install as meeting rooms in One Darling Island, our new workspace in Sydney (the aforementioned rumoured third building).
Eventually, this brings us to what happened yesterday. After an months of Herculean logistics (and, I'm quite sure, horrifying expense; the SMH article linked above estimates the costs of the installation at $250,000, though I have no idea if that's accurate), yesterday our 2 monorail carriages were brought to the office, and very carefully (I heard tell that the '20cm of clearance' figure in the SMH article was actually an OVER-estimate) lifted into place, where they will become 3 meeting rooms (each carriage will be its own room, and then there will be another casual meeting area at the back)‡. HOW COOL IS THAT??!?
Anyway, check out the linked article - the timelapse footage isn't brilliant, but it will give you an idea of the logistics involved (we actually took some footage of our own, hopefully I can share that with you soon).
So: next time I tell you (as I regularly do) that working at Google is like working at Wonka's Chocolate Factory: remember, I once made a stupid joke about buying a monorail, and MY COMPANY DID IT FOR ME. I bet not many of you can say that§.
* generally, me.
† specifically, me.
‡ you, all being nerds, will be delighted to know that the meeting rooms are to be named "Brockway", "Ogdenville", and "North Haverbrook".
§ my guess: zero.