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Friday, May 7, 2021

In an apartment above a fire escape, it’s all about the lunch

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“Do you mind if I live in this?” I asked a manager of a high-end, high-tech, 200-person company, one of the 20 or so tech companies that moved into the commercial building where I work. “I just love it. It’s fun. It’s right for us.”

Yes, you are right, you are. Living and working here at Maker Faire Brooklyn can only be called happy. But it is not fun.

Still, those guys were quietly laughing when I asked if I could have a desk on the second floor. A “co-working area,” as we call it in the business, is a weird one in general but almost as weird as being upstairs. I’m not sure what part of “here” I’m occupying, but I know where the comfy, cushy chairs are: above the fire escape. The fire escape, incidentally, is only accessible from the first floor because the second floor is occupied by private offices, private showers and the yoga studio.

Eggs are, in fact, the number one food item consumed at the company’s office. As you look out on Maker Faire, the acoustics are as sound-absorbing as ever.

One sign asks for donations for the Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group. The next one asks for “keeping for others.” You have to say what you mean, I guess. Meanwhile, the union sign at the entrance reminds me not to steal its furniture.

I think the folks down here now think of themselves as makers of thought and possible products, the creators of wealth.

I like this type of company, not just because it encourages employees to work together but because it has to get jobs done. If the toilet here is backed up you can dial 911. So what if you feel like making something, you need to sleep, you need to have dinner, you need to see people.

Perhaps if tech companies spent more time getting work done in New York, Brooklyn and Manhattan than in Silicon Valley, they’d find they could afford it, and New York wouldn’t feel like a ghost town in this part of the world, and everybody would live happily ever after.

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