San Jose

  I worked at Cisco for a while in San Jose. Cisco is near the light-rail at Tasman Drive and Zanker Drive. Tasman and Zanker Drive is about a block east of First Street and is where the light rail station is. At that point the light rail forks and one branch goes north to Mountain View and Santa Clara while the other branch goes east to Milpitas.

I mostly stayed at the motels along First Street and in downtown San Jose which is in Santa Clara County, I also stayed in motels in Menlo Park and Palo Alto which are in San Mateo County.

The hotels are expensive as hell. I never paid less then $80 a night for a hotel room. And a few times when the cheap $80 hotels were sold out I had to pay $100 a night. But they were paying me $75 an hour so I could afford it. Most of the cheap hotels are owned by Indians from India.

I though Cisco was a little dinky company that made routers and I was surprised to find out they are the largest employer in Silicon Valley. They have 26 building numbered with the letters of the alphabet from A to Z. They also have a bunch of numbered building. The buildings are all pretty much the same. Usually 3 to 5 stories tall, made out of some type of red material.

Silicon Valley companies really do treat you nice during work. At Cisco they gave us free soda pop, coffee, tea, tomato juice, and popcorn. They had junk food vending machines but I never used them because I could live off of the free Coke and popcorn. And you pretty much set your own hours.

Also Cisco had the best cafeteria I have ever eaten at. Every group of three or four Cisco buildings would share a cafeteria. They subsidize the cafeterias so the food is pretty cheap. I was amazed to see that the cafeterias all stock at least 25 or 30 brands of hot sauce, which I always covered my food with. Each cafeteria had something like five counters in it. One was Chinese and Japanese, hell you could eat sushi every day at work. One was a heavy lunch, one was a light lunch. And I forget the others. But the food was fantastic and it was also priced pretty cheap.

I would take a bottle of hot sauce from the cafeteria to my cube and mix it with the free cans of tomato juice they gave us to make an extra hot and spicy tomato juice drink.

In San Jose I would take the light rail to get to work. It runs along 1st Street and goes straight to Cisco. From Menlo Park I would take a heavy rail or a train for a few miles to the light rail station at the end of Santa Clara County and then take light-rail to Cisco.

Light rail is corporate welfare. All the companies in the Silicon Valley give their employees and contractors stickers to put on their badges which allow them to use any light-rail or buses in Santa Clara County. Nice if you work there but still corporate welfare.

Cisco provided free bus service for its employees from the light rail station to all the Cisco buildings. During rush hour the Cisco bus would come every 10 minutes or so. And during non-rush hours it would run every half hour or so. Also if you need to go to a different Cisco building you could call a transit hot line and one of the buses would come to your building and pick you up and take you to the other Cisco building.

The service ended at some set time. Often when I hung out at Cisco playing on the internet and went home late I would walk from my Cisco office to the light-rail station along River Oaks Parkway to First Street where I would catch the light rail back to my hotel.

The heavy rail is a joke. If the conductor doesnít find you, then you get to ride for free. I never tried to avoid the conductor but 9 times out of 10 I rode the heavy rail for free when I went to or from work. Even when I paid it was less then a dollar because I only traveled one unit.

Light-rail is almost a joke. They almost never check to see if you have paid your fare. Every once in a while some light-rail narcs will come around and demand that you show them your ticket. In the three months of using light-rail they only stopped me twice. And in my case I just showed them my Cisco badge because that allowed me to ride light-rail for free. They are supposed to check make me flip over the badge to show that the picture on the badge matched me but they never did. I also used it a few times to ride Santa Clara County buses. The bus system is just as worthless as the bus system in Phoenix. Their buses run two to four times as often as the buses in Phoenix. But is still sucks because even if the buses run 10 times as often it still takes an hour to travel 7 or 8 miles on the bus.

Cisco lied to me. They told me I would come to work as a computer programmer, but they ended up wanting me to be a high paid typist who knew HTML. I quit when I found that out. They probably would have moved me to a programming job, but at that time they laid off several thousand other employees and contractors. I worked there for three months before they actually gave me anything to do. They were paying me $75 an hour to do nothing for 3 months.

I didnít do much for fun, often after work, I would go back to Cisco and just play on the internet. I would also hang out at Stanford University which is in Palo Alto or San Jose State University which is in downtown San Jose. Downtown Palo Alto and Menlo Park are also cool places a lot like Mill Avenue in Tempe, same for Mountain View. I also would wander around Downtown San Jose which doesnít seem to have a lot of crime.

I also would take the 22 bus which runs along the main drag thru the area which is the El Camino Real Highway It goes from San Jose to Menlo Park and Palo Alto. The 22 bus runs 24 hours. Light-rail also runs 24 hours.

Outside of Downtown San Jose which is an older city most of the Silicon Valley is like North Scottsdale. It is a bunch of nice businesses and homes made for yuppies. One bus driver I talked to who was from Los Angles was amazed that the San Jose area didnít have any slums like Los Angeles did. Most of the Silicon Valley businesses are on what used to be farm land. Near Cisco there were a few farms.

Twice I took the heavy rail or train from San Jose to San Francisco. It is really a waste of time because it takes two hours and you can drive there on the freeway in an hour. But I did it for something to do. Also I didnít have a car or rent a car when I worked in San Jose. When I went to San Francisco and Berkley I went and check out all the places I used to hang out at when I lived there a long time ago. I was surprised that it had not changed much and I could still find my way around in San Francisco and Berkley.

In San Francisco and the East Bay I took BART everywhere. BART is really slick. You can get around much of San Francisco in it. And in SF there are so many buses that you donít need BART in the other areas. It doesnít cover the East Bay very well. I took it to the University of California at Berkley and the Oakland Airport. It is a little scary going from Oakland to San Francisco under the San Francisco Bay because I always figure a 9 earthquake will hit then. BART does not go down to the San Jose area.

In San Francisco and San Jose I could not find any ďLittle IndiaĒ part of town like they have in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. I did find two or three Indian restaurants in Santa Clara and a couple in Berkley. But not a large number that sell dirt cheap hot spicy food like the do in Los Angeles.

I would have rented an apartment there but the rates are outrageous. I couldnít touch an apartment for less then $1,000 a month. And since when you just start a contract there always is the chance that you could get fired for political reasons I didnít want to risk moving into an apartment and getting fired. So I stayed in the outrageous priced motels instead because it was only $80 a day, instead of the $2,000 or so I would have probably needed to move into an apartment.

Rents are so high that many people live in Sacrament and commute to San Jose by car. The low income workers like cooks and cleaning people will often have 10 or so people rent a place to live in.

A lot of people who worked at Cisco commuted to out of state places like I did. Every Friday I would go to the San Jose Airport and fly back to Phoenix. There was one Cisco guy who would fly back to Texas. Also a number of the people I met at the airport worked in San Jose and lived in Los Angeles.

 
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