Like Working at TGI Fridays Without All the TGI Fridays

Even though our space might be a little crammed in the Launchpad office, the Art of Living building in which HLK lives offers many other places to be productive.

Let's take a little tour.

Author before moving around to write this post 

Author before moving around to write this post 

Kitchen Booth

Author in kitchen booth without mozzarella sticks 

Author in kitchen booth without mozzarella sticks 

Conveniently located next to the kitchen, the appropriately-named kitchen booths offer a little nook, perfect for working in an environment that feels like a TGI Friday’s without all of the TGI Friday’s-ness of a TGI Friday’s. Although some mozzarella sticks would be nice, they would probably just make my keyboard greasy.

Kitchen Couch

Author looking literally shady on the kitchen couch due to sun 

Author looking literally shady on the kitchen couch due to sun 

Situated near a massive window overlooking the overflow parking lot, the kitchen couch area is where I go when I want to spread out. The couch is comfortable enough to sit on for long periods of time, but not comfortable enough for naps. (Not that I’ve tried to nap on that couch before. I would never do that.)


Author attempting to (and failing at) taking a picture outside

Author attempting to (and failing at) taking a picture outside

On the top floor of the Art of Living building exists a small strip of office space occupied by a couch that might be too comfortable, a long table and a pretty incredible view of the STL skyline. For those who watch a lot of Mad Men and think that great ideas come from staring out of windows, that’s kind of true up on the mezzanine. Except there is a significant lack of drinking, smoking and suits.


Author getting scared in the basement 

Author getting scared in the basement 

There’s a ping-pong table, a veritable labyrinth of old office supplies and the snack vending machine. Who am I kidding? This is not a suitable place to get work done. But I will grab a Diet Coke.

Underneath My Desk 

Crouching underneath where I usually work seemed like a good way to shake things up without having to actually move that much. But then my back hurt and sitting curled up in a ball just wasn’t really worth it anymore.

Author hitting his head on the bottom of the desk

Author hitting his head on the bottom of the desk

In the Bathroom 

Author making a bad decision to work in the bathroom 

Author making a bad decision to work in the bathroom 

I thought this would be a good idea for some reason. It wasn’t. I don’t really want to explain.

If you’re one of those people who is afraid to join the real world because you’re afraid that it’s going to require planting yourself at a cubicle from 9-5 everyday, working at HLK couldn’t be further from the truth. No one really cares where you work (except for the bathroom because that was weird) as long as you get your work done and get it done well.

I Still Have Sand in My Shorts

Before joining the HLK sanctioned sand volleyball team, I made it very clear to Programmer/Designer and Team Captain Elise Hecht that volleyball was not really my sport. The last time I had ever tried to play volleyball was my junior year of high school in a class aptly named “Volleyball, Tennis & Badminton.” But once Elise explained that this volleyball was more “drink beer and trash talk” than “play volleyball,” I was committed.

At Trueman’s Place in Soulard, there’s a single beach-­like battleground tucked behind a pretty standard bar and patio. I quickly realize that whoever decided to put 30 foot tall nets around the court was a genius ­  volleyballs are quick to come flying towards those more intent on enjoying a beverage than playing the game. I arrived shortly before the 9PM game time and the team was warming up with a couple buckets of Anheuser­Busch products. So far, Elise was right about the “drink beer” part of the HLK volleyball.

After a few brews, we make our way to the court to actually warm up. Our opponent for the night? A slightly less rag­tag looking group with a few tall, muscular dudes in headbands. Things were looking grim. Then things started looking even more grim when the first serve came flying over the net — a scorching line drive headed straight for a spot in the sand completely void of HLK players.

One nothing.

Two nothing.

Seven nothing.

I think it was eight nothing before we earned a point, I can’t really remember. It was a blur.

We lost the first game, somehow managing to scrounge up at least a double digit amount of points before finally succumbing to an impressive opposing squad. As was the post­game custom at Trueman’s, we came together for some “good game” high­fives and made our way back to the buckets full of Anheuser­Busch products to refuel. It was much needed.

Our plan for game two, as dictated by Senior Art Director Rob Hutti, was simple: “get the ball over the net.” Miraculously, it worked. We won the game by slim margin, forcing a third game in the best of three series. Winning a game was a big deal — it wasn’t something that happened too often. But there’s something to be said about teams that can stick together despite a lack of victories. Without losing, winning would never really feel that good. And to this team, winning really felt good. The only thing keeping me from really getting excited was the excessive amount of sand that was already stuck in my shorts and would be sure to fall out in the drivers seat of my car later.

Game three went much like game one, which was disappointing after what looked like a glimmer of hope only a few minutes earlier. A few more “good game” high fives later we were back surrounding the buckets of Anheuser­Busch products. It wasn’t a bad place to be. Fellow intern Lauren and I chatted with some real life HLK­ers about everything from grocery stores to how interns should have to win at volleyball to earn a full time job. (Hopefully that’s not the case for me. I might be unemployed forever.)

The chance to talk to our newfound co­workers felt easier here than it did in the office. No longer were there desks or walls or fluorescent lights, but some ramshackle patio furniture and the shared experience of losing. I had an actual conversation with people that I passed in the kitchen. I laughed with people I only saw in the parking lot. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m hyper­competitive, even when it comes to friendly volleyball games. But even with the loss, I still left Trueman’s Place satisfied.

Our Team Name Was Almost "Turbopump"

One of our first tasks on the job as Launchpad interns was to develop a team name. After deciding to stick with the celestial theme developed by Nebula in Cycle 1, the brainstorming started. Highlights included: 

  • Googling “space words”
  • Desperately trying to comprehend the meaning of these “space words”    
  • Struggling to pronounce these “space words” correctly
  • Briefly considering the name “Turbopump”
  • ...and finally, settling on our name for the next six weeks:

Quasar [kwey-zahr, -zer, -sahr, -ser]

After watching most of the reboot of Cosmos from the DVR at my parents house and clicking through some Wikipedia pages, I feel like I’m at least a little bit qualified to explain what a quasar is. 


They’re unique. Existing somewhere in the realm of celestial bodies between a star and a galaxy, quasars have become their own type of celestial body: they’re quasi-stellar. 

They’re bright. Even though quasars exist millions of light years away from us, here on puny old Earth, they’re still some of the brightest objects in the night sky. 

They’re strong. Nestled into the center of galaxies, quasars typically surround supermassive black holes. But even in the company of objects with incredible gravitational pull, quasars still manage to shine bright. 

They’re young and active. Quasars are usually found around young and active galaxies. Sure, they’re still probably billions of years old, but compared to the rest of the universe, they aren’t a day over 23. 


If you haven’t already noticed the obvious comparison I’ve tried to outline, us interns can be described in the same way. We’re unique. We’re bright. We’re strong. And we’re definitely young and active. Just as quasars found their own place in the expansive universe, we’re in the process of finding ours. And HLK is a good place to start. 


P.S. - Rumor has it we might have picked Quasar as the team name strictly because it’s kind of a cool word. We’ll neither confirm nor deny that rumor.