Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The King of Fools

April 1 is this Friday and I'm sure Googler Michael Krantz is sitting in front of a computer somewhere sweating bullets. I hired Michael after years of searching for a marketing writer who not only understood technology, but also had a well-seasoned sense of humor. Michael more than fit the bill. After I left Google, Michael took over writing the April Fools jokes that appeared on google.com, including Google Gulp and Google TiSP. Whatever shows up on the site this Friday will likely be his doing.

April Fools became a pretty big deal at Google starting in 2000, when I wrote a joke that we displayed on the homepage called "MentalPlex." In IFL I give the backstory about how that came to be, and the disaster it almost turned into. After that experience, I came to dread the approach of spring each year. But our April Fools jokes were not restricted to pranks pulled on Google users. Sergey, our resident jester-in-chief, loved to tweak Googlers as well. Each April first, he would unleash a barrage of "official" memos dictating new corporate policies that were to take effect immediately.

I saved some of the classics:

I have noticed we have a number of expectant mothers. I thought this would be a good time for me to share some of my personal tips and techniques for a successful, quick and easy delivery. I will be teaching a series of classes on Wednesdays at 7Pm. This week I will focus on the three pillars of childbearing: breathing, stretching, and pushing. Please RSVP to reserve a spot and bring a towel and a partner. Regards, Sergey
Fellow Googlers, Our website is an important service for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Therefore, we must go to great lengths to make sure we are as responsible as possible in posting content and making website changes. From now on, all employees who work on the website, directly and indirectly, will be subject to our new drug testing policy. Please pick up a cup in the kitchen and return the sample to Stacy’s office. Regards, Sergey 
Our company is growing quickly: Café lunch lines are long, so starting Monday, we will serve lunch and dinner as a potluck. Please bring something to share, enough for six. Also, our masseuses are overburdened, so we are putting in place an automatic buddy matching system so Googlers can give each other massages in their offices. To ease the demand for appointments with our onsite doctor, we will distribute the PDR (Physicians' Desk Reference) to all Googlers. If you have a medical issue, just flag down any fellow Googler. Thanks for your help: Sergey

Sergey was also infamous within the company for his promise in 2000 to build a swimming pool for the staff when we finally booked a profitable quarter. When we did attain profitability, no pool was forthcoming. It became a running joke at our weekly TGIF all-staff meetings, until the following April first, we showed up to find a portable above ground pool in the parking lot next to the Googleplex. Chris from our operations group didn't hesitate to load his kayak into it so he could practice his rolls. When Google moved into SGI's former headquarters in 2004, we thought a full-size pool might finally become a reality. Instead, facilities was instructed to remove the bocce ball courts and install two endless pools for lap swimming in place. Evidently, the city of Mountain View required, or Google's insurance company insisted, that there be a lifeguard on duty when the pools were in use. It has to be either the most boring job in the world or a pretty sweet gig to sit and watch over two fifteen foot long bathtubs all day long.

I'll dig up some more April Fools relics for my next post, but I have no plans to post a joke of my own on this site come Friday. Thankfully, I no longer have to think up something bizarrely geekish enough to make Sergey smile and family friendly enough to actually post where it will be seen by millions of people lacking Sergey's idiosyncratic sense of humor. That's a load off my mind, and a burden now resting squarely on Michael's highly creative brain. I look forward to chortling along with you at what his over-sized humor lobes produce.

1 comment:

Tom Galloway said...

My comment about the lifeguards at the five foot deep pools when giving Googleplex tours; "They're there to go over and say 'You know, if you just stand up, you'll stop drowning' if necessary".