I enjoy living in a truck. It's simple and efficient, it's a choice I made and intend to stand by. I wouldn't necessarily say I'm proud of living a truck, but I certainly don't have a problem telling people about it (as evident by the fact that this blog exists). When I meet new people, it normally comes up as a matter of course, and I'm more than happy to talk about it and all the quirky things that come with it. That said, this installment of Tips from the Truck is concerned with knowing when truck talk is not appropriate, namely in the workplace.
Very few (read: two) of my coworkers know that I live in a truck. For the most part, if housing comes up in discussion, as far as they're concerned I live in a small apartment in a nondescript part of the Bay Area. I don't encourage lying to your coworkers as part of a healthy daily regimen of deceit, but my argument here is this: These people are colleagues and coworkers first and foremost, I'm interacting with them on a daily basis exchanging ideas and sending code back and forth. For that to work smoothly and efficiently, my workplace peers need to see me as a competent, contributing member of the team who they feel comfortable collaborating with. Being the dude who lives out back like some sort of trailer park reject MacGyver-ing the workplace to suit his needs is not a great way to foster teamwork and cooperation. I'm sure they'd be more than accepting of the situation if I explained it to them; the vast majority of people I talk to about it are very receptive and understanding, but I'd hate for a personal detail to poison any coworker relationships in the event someone didn't approve. So, now that we know there's a ruse to uphold, how do we keep with it, without expending too much effort?
I've said in the past that if you're going to live in a truck, hygiene needs to be a top priority. Seriously. This means having floss, deodorant, toothpaste, a razor, and Q-tips® in your gym bag on a daily basis, and using them. No skimping: gym, shower, shave, and get ready for the day, everyday, without fail. You need to go into work looking clean and well-composed, not aloof and sloppy (this is just generally good advice). This also means doing laundry as frequently as necessary to make sure you're never wearing dirty clothes (again, generally reasonable). Being in Silicon Valley and an engineer means you probably don't have a dress code at work (unless you're at HP), but you should still try to wear a collared shirt every now and then.
This poses another problem though, because what's the point of wearing a collared shirt if it's going to be wrinkled and unsightly. After all, you live in a truck and I hope you don't have an iron in there, that seems like a bad idea. But you still want to have fresh, wrinkle-free clothes, right? My strategy for this has been to use fabric softener and "wrinkle-free" dry cycles, and then watch the dryer like a paranoid hawk, grabbing and folding the clothes before they cool down all wrinkled and unpleasant-looking. Once you get back to your truck, hang up all your dress shirts if you have the room.*
One final tip: seeing as you don't have running water, it can be tricky to clean things like shoes and water bottles. For my shoes, I like to take a damp, post-shower towel and run it around the outsole a few times a week to keep them fresh-looking, and I wash out my water bottle in the office kitchen.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! You're a prim and proper pickup truck plutocrat. Now go out into the real world smelling fresh and looking way less crazy than you actually are.*Note: This may cause issues with moths. I will attempt to address clothing storage and insect control in future posts.