Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bicentennial Man


When I used to work at Oracle, in the least prestigious career in the universe, I tried to bike to work.  I had rented an apartment in Foster City, just a few miles from Oracle HQ, and there was a lovely bike path that went right from in front of my apartment to Oracle.  Biking was great, because it took just as long as driving, and I got exercise.  However, it was always cold, and I was always lazy, and after a few months I ended up driving to work.

One day I was driving in and found myself caught in a long line of people trying to get off the highway at the Oracle exit.  Annoyed at the uncharacteristic wait (I mean, I slept in late just to avoid rush hour!  Did I have to wake up early now?), I grumbled until I got to the front of headquarters.  There, a giant sign had been erected that read “NorthAM Robotics.”
"Huh?  Where did it go?"
They were filming Bicentennial Man.

We didn’t get a lot of work done that day at Oracle, as most workers stood at the windows, looking for some sign of movie making.  We never saw anything.  However, once, while a colleague and I were walking to lunch, we stumbled into movie magic.  Well, the back of movie magic, anyway.

There was a guy with a headset blocking our path.  He asked us to walk around the area, because they were going to film and didn’t want to catch us on camera by accident.  We stood and watched, hoping that something cool would happen, but all we ever saw was an extra standing around, waiting to be filmed.

The extra was a tall, blonde, handsome man.  He was wearing a black suit and his hair, as the song goes, was perfect.  In one hand he held a coffee cup and, in the other, one of those metal briefcases you always see Secret Service members carrying around when they’re with the President.  (I think it has the nuclear football inside.)

Do you see the extra?  Do you?!
Anyway, I looked away from the extra, who was trying to look like your typical, high-tech company employee, to the small crowd of actual, high-tech company employees that were watching.  We were fat.  We were short.  We had bad hair, bad skin, and bad postures.  We were in worn clothes, mostly t-shirts and jeans and nobody, nobody was carrying a nuclear football.

To this day, I’m a little disappointed.  Hollywood, as always, is pointing at the way people should be.  High tech workers should be tall and fit and tan and carry around launch codes in a metal briefcase.  We should work in suits and get our haircuts every two to three weeks.
No, we don't look like this.
So, come on, Silicon Valley!  Get back on that bike.  Go steal some launch codes.  Find a salon that doesn’t have “Super” or “Cuts” in the name.  In a few years, maybe we’ll be worthy of the image Hollywood has of us.

By the way, rent the movie Bicentennial Man someday.  That tiny, pale, scrawny, guy in the window?  That’s me.

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