Imagine that it’s the end of a long day at work, but instead of heading home, you slept in a camper parked in a company lot? Now, imagine doing that for an entire year. That’s exactly what former Google employee Matthew Weaver did, spending 54 weeks between 2005 and 2006 in a vehicle surrounded by a white picket fence and astroturf in order to make it feel more like home, reports the BBC.
A former Google site ecologist, Weaver was dared to spend a year in the van on Google’s Mountain View, California campus, not necessarily feeling deprived of creature comforts due to the tech giant’s famed employee perks. During his year living outside the office, Weaver enjoyed the extensive food options at the company cafeteria as well as access to showers, a gym, and even a laundromat to wash his clothes.
“There were all sorts of rooms with pianos and foosball tables, and all these kinds of things, so I had plenty to do when I was taking a break from work,” Weaver told the BBC.
While Google does not encourage staff to sleep at the office, the company was very lenient with Weaver, with security guards even keeping a lookout on Weaver’s mobile home when he was away.
Weaver was not the only Google employee to spend after-hours living in the company parking lot. He was one of several former employees who took to question-and-answer website Quora to share his stories of living at work. The sharing of living-at-work stories started when one user asked who spent the longest time living at Google’s California headquarters.
Shana Sweeney, a human resources staffer at Google, replied by describing one employee who lived in a camper for two to three years. “After 2-3 years, he had saved up enough money to buy a house,” she wrote.
The Telegraph reports that Brandon Oxendine, a former Google visual designer, lived in the parking lot for three months in 2012, sleeping in his Volvo.
“I set up a twin mattress from IKEA and put up black curtains (on the 90 percent blacked out windows) and slept there mostly every night for three months until I moved in with my buddy (an ex Googler) in the Mission in San Francsico,” Oxendine wrote in the forum.
Most of the posters lived out of cars like Oxendine, opting out of the more elaborate astroturf and white picket-fence setting of Weaver’s home. Another poster, Ben Discoe lived in the parking lot for just over a year, sleeping in his 1990 GMC Vandurra.
“I had a house payment (on my farm in Hawaii) and alimony to pay,” Discoe wrote. “No money left for South Bay rental prices.”
While living at work might have been a practical move for many of these employees, Weaver told the BBC that he eventually moved to a more traditional home when his unique housing became “a bit weird” to explain to the women he was dating.