“Huh. That’s a lot of baseball bats.”
D’Angelo Russell looked at the pile of seven baseball bats that was sitting on the checkout counter of the sporting goods store. “Yeah, well, when you’re coaching an little league team in an underprivileged part of the city, those kids aren’t bringing any of their own equipment.” He wished that the cashier would quit with the interrogation and just let him make his purchase, but he couldn’t say anything about it for fear of seeming suspicious. Instead, he joked, “Besides, if I wanted to destroy property, I would be buying golf clubs and not these things.”
“Haha, yeah, I guess,” agreed the cashier as he scanned the bats and bagged them. “Good luck with your team,” he said after D’Angelo had stuck his credit card into the reader.
D’Angelo wanted to reply with, “what team?” before remembering the lie he told. He gave a gruff “thanks” and hustled out of the store before he could screw up anymore. Phase one of the plan was complete.
After checking his reflection in the rearview mirror to ensure he appeared professional enough, D’Angelo got out of his car and walked up the front entrance of the large but bland building. There was no signage that indicated he was even at the right spot, but when he entered the reception area and saw the colorful “Google” logo, he knew he was where he was supposed to be.
“I’m here for the data center tour,” he said to the receptionist, who probably had very little to do while working at such an untrafficked building.
“You can wait over there,” the woman responded, pointing towards the other end of the foyer where a few other people were standing around. “It’ll start in a few minutes.”
D’Angelo thanked her and ambled over to where a half-dozen other men, and one woman, were congregated. He hoped that nobody would try to talk to him about data center technology or servers or anything like that. The tour was aimed towards IT professionals, so he had done some basic research on what “data” was, how it was stored, and why a company would have so much of it that it would fill an entire building, but he certainly didn’t feel qualified to discuss the subject at any length.
“Hey, you look like D’Angelo Russell,” one of the men said as D’Angelo stood what he thought was a safe distance away, hoping not to be noticed.
“Is that a rapper or something?” D’Angelo asked.
“He just got traded to the Warriors.”
“Oh, the football team,” D’Angelo replied. “I don’t like football or any sports at all really. My hobby is maintaining data centers and, uh, doing data warehouse stuff.” He immediately wanted to punch himself for wading into such dangerous conversational territory.
“Actually, basketball,” the man said, chuckling. “You look like just like him. It’s crazy.”
“Yeah, that’s crazy,” D’Angelo replied. He was feeling annoyed that he had been recognized so quickly in a place that was supposed to be filled with computer nerds who didn’t know anything about sports. When would the tour start, anyway?
At that moment, a casually dressed 40-something man approached the group. “Hey everybody, I’m Dean, and I’ll be showing you around today. Photography is welcome, but please stay with the group at all times.” There was some nodding of assent. “The hope is that you can see the day-to-day operations of a modern, high-functioning data center and take something back to your own companies to increase the worldwide level of data availability and data security.” More nodding followed, which D’Angelo took part in despite already having lost the thread of the discussion. All he knew was that he was in the building where Google kept all their stuff.
The group followed Dean through a doorway that took them to a hallway which was all glass on one wall. Through the glass, they could see the large expanse of glowing server racks stretching seemingly to infinity below them. They walked as Dean explained Google’s philosophy when it came to data center architecture, which D’Angelo ascertained was different from building architecture. However, he wasn’t really there to learn about data centers. He had another plan on his mind.
“Excuse me, is there a bathroom in this place?” he interrupted.
“You’re not really supposed to leave the group,” Dean replied.
D’Angelo contorted his face in mock discomfort. “Sorry. It’s just that, all that Chipotle last night is disagreeing with me.”
Dean, seeing the need to avoid an unpleasant accident, gave him directions to the bathrooms on the basement level. D’Angelo walked away gingerly as if holding back a large amount of something imminent, but his stiff gait wasn’t an act, given the multitude of baseball bats that were hidden underneath his slacks. Phase two of the plan, to infiltrate the data center, was complete.