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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Office Space

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 3/21/2023
Posted: 2/24/2010
Page Views: 6213
Topics: #Toyota #Autobiography
In which I show off my place of employment.

Many of you know that I work at Toyota Financial Services. (At, not for, as I am a consultant.) Partially since Toyota has been in the news lately, and partially because we can't bring in visitors (for safety reasons), and partially because I just moved to a new desk, I thought I would describe my work environment and, in general terms, what I do here.

The desk I moved to was formerly occupied by a co-worker, Dempsey, who has moved on. His replacement took a different desk, leaving Dempsey's available to me. I like it better because it isn't in the main flow of traffic like my old desk was. Now I won't have a constant stream of people walking behind me, making my caveman reflexes tense in case one of them happens to be a saber-tooth tiger.

The Author at his desk.

You may note in the photo above that I have two computers. I run a number of programs at the same time and have to monitor them visually as they go. The two PCs make that job a lot easier. It also makes it possible for me to run applications on one computer while I develop new ones on the other. (Testing a new program can make a computer crash which would crash any other programs running on it at the same time.)

What my programs do is interact with the legacy mainframe system that maintains collection accounts. Typically a program will add a note to all accounts meeting a certain criteria. Mainframe programs can take months to write and test; I can create an equivalent program in a few minutes. So it becomes cost effective as well as timely to get me, instead of the mainframe programmers, to do that kind of job, even for just a few hundred accounts.

There's a bookshelf and in years past, I always had to keep a dozen or more technical books at work. But now all that information is more easily available on the Web. So, no books!

Near me are people taking phone calls from customers. That isn't conducive to concentrating on my work, so I have headphones through which I can play music while I work. (Plugged into a computer, of course!)

The way the building is arranged, everyone can see a window. Having been in a wide variety of environments—the worst was probably about 20 years ago, when I had a short contract at a hospital where my office was in the basement next to the morgue—this is one of the best.

The only downside is the distance of the rest room from my desk. It's about 7 miles, or feels that way when I've put off going because I was so into getting the next step on a new program written.

I've said before, you can also judge the stress level of a company by the number of smokers gathered outside the door. Here, there's a hidden "smoking oasis" away from the building but still, there's hardly anyone ever there.

I've been very lucky in my career to have had a succession of outstanding people as bosses. That pattern has continued here, and my boss, Jack, is also a friend. My immediate co-workers are also pals, so coming to work includes a social element as well as a financial one.

On the topic of the automobile recalls (which doesn't directly impact anything I do), we were informed of them at the beginning. My personal feeling is that Toyota has behaved admirably in initiating such a massive recall for problems that have actually occurred in such a vanishingly small percentage of vehicles. (You can find current details on the recalls at

As a consultant, it isn't necessary for me to like or admire the company at which I consult.

But it makes the job a lost more pleasant when I do. And this is a pleasant job.


A few days after the above post appeared, I was summoned to HR and told to take the post down. Even though it was a complimentary post, Toyota wants complete control over every word appearing on the Internet about it. So I took it down, but am adding this update so I remember why.

Update 2

In January, 2011, I came down with Necrotizing Faciitis, also known as the "flesh-eating bacteria". I was hospitalized for three months, and was assured that my job would be "saved" for me. However, when I got out of the hospital, on my first full-time week back at work, I was fired with no explanation or warning. And this despite my previous job performance review, which said I was one of the most valuable employees they had. So, fuck 'em. The page is back up.