I often joke that I’m so spoilt by the free food in Google I can no longer survive in the outside world because I’ve lost the ability to exchange money for food.

There was precisely one day, 18 May 2005, when the Google cafe ran out of food during dinner. The next morning, I wrote this useful instructional email for my coworkers:

We did not have enough food in the Googleplex at dinner last night. I could have starved to death. Fortunately, a long time ago, the Ancients did not have dinner at work too, so they developed the tradition of going to town to exchange money for food. In order to survive the evening, I was forced to learn and practice the Art of the Ancients.
It turns out, it wasn’t so bad. You just have to learn a few important points:
1. Know where to acquire food.
Not all townsfolks will give you food. A skillful forager learns to recognize the subtle signs. Townsfolks who are willing to exchange food for your money would let you know by putting up a large yellow ‘M’ (for “Meal”?) outside their buildings. Do not seek food from Office Depot.
2. Learn the language of exchange.
Townsfolks use an unique language to execute the exchange of food and money. Do not go into an establishment and say, “Here is money, give me food, woman!”. Such is the way of the unskilled forager. Instead, use this holy mantra, inscribed in the Ancient Scriptures:
“Hamburger, fries and coke. And supersize me!”
3. The exchange.
Keep giving the townsfolk money, until she stops looking at you funny. At that point, you know you have given her enough money for her to be willing to surrender her food. In my case, she gave me some money back, even after I got her food. I don’t know why. It must be my good looks. My good looks inspire peace-making instincts in townsfolks, especially the female ones.
4. Find a corner, eat, and get back to work.