Cupertino

In August of 1995 I moved to Cupertino to work in Apple’s Developer Tech Support. It was a pretty big change to me for a number of reasons. First, I hadn’t lived outside of Minnesota, except for a year in Austria during high school. Second, the housing prices were quite a shock. I arrived there, and had Apple-supplied temporary housing for a couple months while I found a place of my own. When I started shopping around, nearly everything I looked at had a huge waiting list, was out of my price range, and seemed pretty poorly constructed to me. Or it was miles and miles away, and I’d end up spending all my free time commuting. I remember at least a couple apartments where the walls between various units seemed no thicker than regular interior walls, so you could hear everything that the neighbors did. There were also a couple places that looked a little promising, but there was no way I would be able to move in without extending my stay in the temporary housing.

Finally I found a place in the Cupertino City Center apartments. It was a nice apartment, with cement walls, so no worries about hearing the neighbors. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but I figured it would be worth it not to hate the place I was living in. And it was close enough to the main Apple campus that I could walk to work, which was very appealing, since the weather was nice enough year around that I liked being outside.

After getting all my furniture moved in by the moving company, I started to settle in. I think I was probably in one of the few areas I really would have liked there. I had a bar or two within walking distance, plus a Target, a bookstore, and a big grocery store all within six blocks. Cupertino wasn’t especially pedestrian-friendly, but I made do, and put very few miles on my car.

The only real common area the apartment had was a swimming pool, which I used just once in the whole time I lived there (I’m not much of a swimmer). But that didn’t really bother me. I was happy enough sitting on my balcony to relax, or being inside with the computer.

The balcony of the apartment was interesting. I was across a sidewalk from Apple’s City Center 2 (?), where most of the accounting department from Apple was located. There were balconies on that building too, so there would be times when I’d be sitting on the balcony and see the people across the way standing on their balcony for a smoke.

Within the first few months in the new place, I discovered that the Santa Cruz Mountains were a really nice weekend destination. I could drive up into the mountains and visit a couple wineries to sample some good wine, have gorgeous vistas, and just down the other side was the Pacific. I ended up driving up into the mountains most weekends, just to get out a bit. Later on, I would discover just how strange most folks found this, as I’d suggest going up to a wine-tasting to someone and get a puzzled look in return. There are wineries closer than Napa? You like to drive on those roads? Why don’t you go up to San Francisco instead? Well, yeah. Good wine, fun roads when you’re driving a Camaro, and I usually wanted to get away from people, rather than go to The City so I could be around even more people. When Kate and I first started dating, our first dates were drives up into the mountains.

Evenings during the week, I’d stop by the nearby bar for a beer or two sometimes, but usually I’d just come home and watch the tube. If there was nothing on, I’d dial in to Wintermute and type with folks back in MN. My phone bills got pretty big because of that, but I didn’t socialize a lot with folks from work and kinda missed Minnesota.

The walk to work was sometimes interesting. I walked between CC3 and CC4, which were Apple’s two tallest buildings and where the bigwigs’ offices were at the time. More than once I’d get funny looks from the security guards as I walked through, but after a while they seemed to figure out I was okay. Also on the corner of Stevens Creek and DeAnza, there was a big open dirt lot in front of Apple’s City Center towers. There’s a building there now, but as long as there hadn’t been any rain, I’d cut across the lot, rather than walking around. More funny looks from people. Not only was I walking, but I was walking where almost nobody else did.

About halfway between home and work, there was the Donut Wheel. It was a little donut shop, and I’d stop by once in a while. But more often I’d have breakfast in the cafeteria at Apple. Jaime would cook up a breakfast on a bun for me, with a side of crazy potatoes, and I’d be set for the morning.

In all, it was a pretty comfortable existence (except for the folding chair that served as my desk-chair at home, which was pretty uncomfortable), but when my rent went up about 20% after a year there, my salary only went up 4% (which I took as a sign of what Apple thought of my value to them), and things weren’t working that well between me & Kate, I decided it was time to get back to where I belonged. I wasn’t bitter, but I didn’t really have much of a reason to stick around, either. I called Rob at LM and got my job there back, and was packed up and out within a month. I’d called my old landlord, and while he didn’t have any places available in Minneapolis, his brother did, and I had just about everything arranged in MN before I left CA.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:47:56.