Back To Work: TechFood

TechFoodWhile there’s a lot that’s been said about Silicon Valley tech companies and their on site restaurants and chefs for most tech companies that isn’t always the case. Tech companies want you working as long as possible and really don’t want you to leave even to run down to the corner to get a burger. Food perks are common place and the place I work at is no exception.

Everyday we are offered a catered free lunch which I have to say usually isn’t bad. You just have to make sure that you get there not too long after it’s served or you’re generally going to get cold food which while you can heat it in the microwave still isn’t as good as when it’s first served. Depending on the day we can get anything from Indian, Mexican, Asian, Italian and Fusion food of all types, but American style food is few and far between. We did have burgers a couple of times, but that’s kind of outweighed by the other types of food we’re normally served.

All of the food is aimed to be on the healthier side of the spectrum and you won’t find a soda anywhere. Aside from the catered lunch they’re working on catering a dinner as well since lots of people work late and there have been a few nights I’ve done the late shift where dinner has been bought for us.

The refrigerators are stocked with lots of health snack foods as well and if you come in early which they like you to do you can even fix yourself breakfast. Basically they wouldn’t mind if you lived there 24/7 and there are plenty of people who work there that it seems like outside of work they just need a bed to crash in. For a lot of you this might not seem odd at all, but I grew working 9-5 style jobs were if you got a free lunch it was rare and not common and if you worked overtime it was rare as well and not common.

Life is different now in San Francisco with tech companies changing the way work life is and free food is becoming the standard for quite a few jobs. I’ve had a few jobs were there were always snacks around, but not to the extent that I’m getting now. Not to mention that there is one refrigerator stocked almost entirely with beer, wine and champagne and a side snack shelf with rum, gin, whiskey, scotch and of course since we’re in San Francisco Fernet Branca and Jägermeister [which I smartly moved to the freezer since Jager should always be served ice cold.]

As I said in my last article the people here work long and hard and don’t seem to have much life outside of work. These techies don’t have any family nearby so their co-workers become their surrogate family for many of them. Few are married and those that are try and not work long hours, but their husbands or wives usually are working long hours as well because they’re working in tech as well. Hopefully they’re putting some money aside so that one day they can have some free time to kick back and relax a bit other than on the rare weekend when they aren’t asked to come in and work.

It’s taking a little getting used to and I won’t say it’s a bad thing, but I am seeing a bit of a similarity to companies in China where the employees pretty much live where they work. They’re just being treated a bit nicer here and I guess the booze is what helps. Enjoy the pictures below of some of the meals I’ve been served.

Back To Work: Tech Bros, The Real Story

Tech BroI hear lots and lots from natives about how the Tech Bros are ruining the city. Now that I’m working with a lot of those Tech Bros I’ve learned a few things about them that I thought I’d share with you.

I was talking with lots of the people I work with about where they live and surprisingly, most of them like to live within walking distance to where they work. The majority live in SoMA with a few living on the edges of the Mission. Yes, there some that live in the Marina, but they are few and far between. Those in the Marina are the closest to a Tech Bro that everyone likes to talk about. Here’s what I found out about them though.

At least half of them don’t even live in San Francisco because even though they made very good money they don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices San Francisco charges. Many of those who do live in very small places within 15 minutes walking distance from work and there’s a very good reason for that. They’re rarely home. A 40 hour week would seem really nice to most of them, but there are quite a few who are there 50-80 hours a week. They eat breakfast at work, lunch at work and dinner at work. It’s rare they most of them leave before it’s dark and in many cases late at night.

The few that do tend to cut out early are more of the tech bro type that is vilified locally, but it is rare that you’ll ever see one West of Masonic because, well, even today, it’s too far away. Most of the people I work with are a lot like the people I grew up with. They like sports and video games and even TV which they’re usually watching at work because they’re there all the time. When they do have time off they’re usually renting a car and leaving the city or hopping on a plane to get out of the city because they want to get as far away from work as possible.

Those slackers sitting at a coffee shop staring at a laptop around the city aren’t what I see at work [I’m still not sure what they’re doing sitting in coffee shops all day long other than possibly updating their resumes because they don’t have jobs]. Where I work they’re there day in and day out working hard for their money. None of them own homes in San Francisco and for where they live they also aren’t displacing long term residents because in the long term no one has wanted to live where most of them lived or the places they live in weren’t there 10 years ago.

Perhaps I’m not seeing this problem because the tech bros that are being vilified are hopping on the tech shuttle buses and leaving the city. Those I’ve met that do work outside the city aren’t anywhere close to an age to purchase a house in San Francisco and usually again, they aren’t living in areas where people are outraged by the displacement of long term residents. I’m sorry, but the Mission is very much yesterday’s news to the techies of today from what I’m seeing. The Marina which has gotten a bad rap since the 80’s [what you don’t remember the douchebag preppies of the 80’s?] still has lots of trust fund kids, but they’re usually law students now and not working in the stock market like they were in the 80’s. People have said the Marina is too white, which actually isn’t true, as it’s gotten less white because it’s not mostly Italian immigrants anymore. It’s a very homogenized American neighborhood and yes, you will see more blondes, but lots of those blondes have dyed their hair and some are even of non-European origin. The main thing is that very few of them are tech workers and if they are it’s usually because their parents or grandparents have property there that they’re staying at.

OK, yes, there are some bad ones. I’ve seen the blog posts by entitled sounding higher ups in tech companies who live here and while some of their concerns about the homeless problem are valid saying, why can’t we just get rid of the homeless isn’t a real solution to the problem unless they mean to find a way to stop them from being homeless.

So in the end I feel that those who blame techies for the destruction of San Francisco [especially if they happen to live West of Masonic] is false because the people saying this probably don’t have much interaction with them if any at all. Are techies changing San Francisco? Sure. Just as the Beatniks, Hippies, Gays, Punk Rockers and Metal Heads have over the years. There will always be a group that is blamed for the downfall of San Francisco, but in the end they end up leaving a mark on the city just like those who came before them.

Next: Tech Food and Free Beer Fridays