Work in the Precarious Economy   /   Spring 2016   /    Work In The Precarious Economy

Vocation in the Valley

Philip Lorish

Tabula Sacra, 2015, by Rosamond Casey; courtesy of the artist.

The heroic builder of the new social order is, of course, the hacker, who sees through the vast corporate malaise and retains a singular focus on solving broad social problems by technological means.

Brandon is a twenty-something software engineer who lives in a refurbished moving van that he parks in semi-permanence on one of the lots at Google’s sprawling global headquarters in Mountain View, California. His truck is equipped with only those necessities and amenities that are unavailable on the corporate campus, and since the Googleplex provides laundry facilities, a gym, video game rooms, multiple restaurants and “microkitchens,” bathrooms, and spaces for socializing, that means the truck has no more than the most minimal of appointments: a Dwell house on wheels, you might say, though without the costly chic.

Brandon explained his unusual housing solution in his first post on his personal blog, Thoughts from Inside the Box. Having interned for the company during the summer of 2014, he wrote, he quickly fell into a routine that went like this: “I wake up, catch the first GBus to Google, work out, eat breakfast, work, eat lunch, work, eat dinner, hang out at Google, and eventually take a bus home, pack my gym bag for the next day, and go to sleep.” When he was offered a full-time job at Google after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Brandon surveyed local housing options and decided that it made as little sense to spend valuable time commuting to and from Google’s campus as it did to shell out so much of his income on a place he would rarely occupy. So a box on wheels it would be.

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