Douwe Osinga's Blog: The Heidi Song

Friday, January 13, 2006

At the end of every Friday at the Google campus in Mountain View, Larry or Sergey present TGIF. A nice look back at what has happened last week with nice food and some drinks. In the Zurich office, we didn't have such a thing, mostly due to a lack of executives. Since I am never the guy to miss an opportunity to have drinks with people, I took it upon me to organize the Swiss Google TGIF. This post is about how the Heidi Song became instrumental in that and how it surprises our new neighbours.

Heidi is of course the story of a little girl who lives in the Alps with her grandfather. Moreover, there is a Japanese cartoon version of the story that has a rather terrible theme song. Now, the thing about people in general, and busy Googlers especially, is that it is not easy to make them stop what they are doing. It is always, oh, let me finish one more email and such, even if there is beer available and the fact that I usually did a presentation on what had happened helped surprisingly little in getting these people to move. So I had to come up with something.

The answer was the Heidi song. Swiss as anything else made in Japan and irritating enough if played at higher volumes to make people move. I would just play it on the speakers in the lobby and people would come. Of course this was when Google Zurich was small enough to be sound covered from the lobby. We are now in a bigger building with multiple floors, but luckily enough also with an intercom system.

Since we are with so many more people now, it is less important to get them out of their offices - there are always enough people ready for a quick game of Foosball or a TGIF starting beer, but it has become a tradition, so every Friday I walk down all the stairs to the lobby of the building, turn the volume on my laptop as high as it goes and play the Heidi song into the microphone of the intercom system.

The thing is that since two months or so, the first floor including said lobby are rented out to another company. And this is the weird thing, every Friday I basically walk into this company and start playing this very kitchy Heidi song as loud as it goes in their lobby. They sometimes look a little surprised, but nobody has ever said a thing. I suppose by now they know that I am just the Heidi song guy. Does that every week. People accept anything as normal.