10/10/2013 01:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Google Buys Monorail Cars In Response To Engineer's Joke

There's a "Simpsons" character named Lyle Lanley, the fictional swindler in the "Marge vs. the Monorail" episode who uses his silver tongue to woo the town of Springfield into buying a poorly built mass-transit system that nearly bankrupts the town.

It appears Googlers in Australia are either unacquainted with "The Simpsons," or (more realistically) are unlikely to face down any financial problems in the near future.

An engineer at the company's Sydney office submitted a joke request for a monorail and got it -- well, a couple monorail cars, anyway.

Paul Cowen, the Google engineer in question, took to his Google+ profile to explain how this happened: "At Google, we have (like most large companies do) an internal ticketing system for keeping track of jobs for our building management team. ... Sometimes, though, this ticket system is abused by idiots* trying to be funny." (And by "idiots," he later writes that he means "generally me.")

After learning Google's Australia campus would soon expand from two buildings to three, Cowen suggested the company purchase the Sydney Monorail, a train system that ultimately shared too much in common with its "Simpsons" variant and was headed to the scrapyard.

"This idiot suggested that maybe Google should buy the monorail and install it between the three buildings in a loop," writes Cowan, "because we're lazy and besides how cool would it be to have a monorail.

"Everyone had a chuckle at this lame joke, and then that was it, until a particularly awesome member of our Facilities team, Alecia, replied to the ticket, giving an hilarious and clever feasibility study as to why purchasing the monorail would be a bad plan. ... Joke dies down, everyone's happy."

Months later, Cowen and Alecia learned that Google's brass didn't think the monorail idea was all that bad. They're asked to go pick out a couple monorail cars from the junkyard to use as meeting rooms in the company's newest building.

The cars were installed Tuesday, Oct. 8, in what Cowen has termed a "herculean effort" and a process the Sydney Morning Herald estimates to have cost $250,000.

Worth it? Maybe -- though it still seems like more of a Shelbyville idea.

WATCH a video of the installation, below:



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