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I slept in my car and showered in the factory to work 12-hour shifts at Tesla. I still got laid off after 5 years.

Beatrice Nolan   

I slept in my car and showered in the factory to work 12-hour shifts at Tesla. I still got laid off after 5 years.
  • Nico Murillo, a former Tesla production supervisor, was laid off after five years at the company.
  • Murillo lived in his car in the factory's parking lot for a year to save commuting time.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Nico Murillo, a former production supervisor at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I started at Tesla in 2019 as an entry-level production associate.

I worked my way up at the company for over five years, eventually becoming a production supervisor.

Half a decade felt like a long time to work at one place, so when the layoffs came in April, they were a total shock.

When I received the email stating that my position had been eliminated, I was already on my way to work.

I decided to try my badge on the turnstile in case it was a scam or a mistake, but a security guard confiscated it and told me I'd be affected by the job cuts.

I just walked back to my car in shock. It felt like a nightmare.

Camping in the car park

I worked really hard while I was at Tesla and wanted to be as efficient and productive as possible.

My shifts at Tesla were long, normally lasting around 12 hours. As I was working a salaried job, I sometimes needed to stay even longer to get things done.

In 2021, I started sleeping in my car and showering in the factory to avoid my lengthy commute.

I just felt like I needed more time to sleep — the job felt like being an industrial athlete because we were constantly moving. I needed more rest to be productive, efficient, and friendly at work. I decided it would be easier to stay at the factory and cut out my hour-and-a-half commute.

My coworkers were surprised when I told them I was sleeping in my car — it definitely turned heads as it wasn't normalized in the culture.

I was camping in the car between my work shifts for a whole year. My shift patterns alternated between three and four days a week, so it felt doable and put me in a better headspace.

I did a lot of research on how to design my Model Y Tesla to be in "camp mode." I realized I could live at the factory between my shifts as there were showers and a bathroom.

It was pretty comfortable and fun to create. In camp mode, the Model Y can stay at 70 degrees Fahrenheit the whole night, so you don't have to worry about it being too cold or hot.

Being awake and efficient at work was a priority for me. I needed more rest to achieve this, so cutting out my commute really helped.

When the weather got worse around December, I stopped sleeping in my car because it made it a lot more difficult. To get to the bathroom, I had to get out of my car and walk into the facility and back without getting everything wet.

'Grief moment'

Working at Tesla taught me that you have to pivot quickly in life.

You can't dwell on things or complain because that doesn't get you anywhere. When I found out I'd been laid off, it felt like a grief moment. I was in disbelief.

As I sat in my car outside the factory, it began to settle in. It hit me that I'd spent five years here, bonding with coworkers and camping in this parking lot.

In any negative situation, like a layoff, you can't control the outside events or your initial response. I've been trying to take a half-glass-full approach and think about everything I have time to do now I'm no longer working so hard at Tesla.

It's been about a month since I was laid off, and I've been seeing a lot of people in the EV industry being impacted by layoffs. It feels like it's happening to a lot of people.

Being laid off didn't change my opinion of Tesla. I still really resonate with its mission and what the company is trying to do. I worked hard for them, but that does not mean I plan to give up being a hard worker.

Right now, I'm a store manager at GNC, but going forward, I'm planning to grow my YouTube channel and I'm planning to move into my car full-time.


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