Five women and one man were riding in the elevator up to last night's needlessly exclusive party "for media" at the West Chelsea Googleplex last night. The women all wore similar, similarly officey outfits: tight black slacks, two-inch heels and shiny blouses accented by conspicuous yet conservative jewelry. They stared at my tattoos, and at my nametag, which read "Kate Appleton, BudgetTravel.com." Uh oh. "You don't look like Kate Appleton," the one man finally ventured. He turned out to be Kate's boss. The women shot me withering stares, clearly displeased that I was resorting to subterfuge in order to gain access to the hotbed of Google bachelors that no doubt awaited us on the 16th floor. And then we got out of the elevator and emerged into what looked exactly like a high school cafeteria. How appropriate.
The first thing you notice when you walk into the Google cafe—sorry, the "Hemisphere Cafe"—is that signature cafeteria smell of rotting fruit and industrial antisepsis. The second thing is the big whiteboard wall where the local and organic origin of the week's foodstuff is scribbled in multicolored marker. Wacky!
The rest of the cafeteria space is comprised by a big florescent-lit room with a patio and a great view across the Hudson to the bright lights of New Jersey. The women in it last night were clustered in knots around the suited men with blue nametags, which indicated Google employment. Other people with blue nametags stood forlornly at kiosks that had been set up to demonstrate "the ways Google is there for you at every stage of your life," according to Eric Obenzinger, a 22-year-old associate in Google's Global Communications and Public Affairs department.
"What about Google Death? Are they working on that yet?" asked one waggish reporter. Eric, a redhead, blushed scarlet. He had just moved to New York after graduating from Penn in June. "I watch a lot of Sex And The City," he admitted. Was he looking for a girlfriend at the media party? "I just got out of a long term relationship," he said, blushing harder. He also apologized for the tragic state of the buffet, which included frighteningly dilapidated sushi, cold mac and cheese, and chicken wings. "The food is usually much better." Maybe Google only had limited resources to spend on the media party. As everyone knows, they are a very poor company.
Maybe they will finally make some money via this idea that Google can help you navigate every life stage, though! At the party, this concept was mainly communicated mainly via swag, which included multicolored baby bottles, representing childhood, and lava lamps, representing being a thirteen-year-old loser with no friends. "What about Google husband finder, does that exist yet?" I heard Star Editor at Large Julia Allison badgering some hapless Googler as I left. The answer, of course, is no.
But! Waiting to cross the street on the sidewalk outside the Googleplex, a guy with a green nametag (which meant reporter) approached me. "That was awful, huh? Where are you headed?"
I told him that I was going to the Chelsea Market across the street to get a lobster roll; I hadn't been able to bring myself to eat any of the Google food and I was pretty hungry. We chatted about how lame the party had been, and then the dude was like, "Nice meeting you, Kate."
"Oh, I'm not really Kate Appleton," I said. "I'm Emily Gould. Email me! I'm eminently Googleable." And he did! The system works.