I wanted to write this post as a huge “thank you” to my Automattic family. This story is one of the reasons why I love working at Automattic, and why Automattic is such an amazing company.
So here we go…..
Over the past week, I suffered a great loss in the passing of my Aunt Terry. She was one of the most amazing people I have ever known. She was my mentor, my idol, and a Saint. When my Mom passed away when I was only 17 years old, Terry was there for me, and supported me through every step of my life.
I will have a longer post about her once I better comprehend what happened. It still doesn’t feel real.
She had been in the hospital for a while. I always assumed she was going to get better, and by Christmas we would be able to laugh together and talk about what a horrible year 2016 was. That won’t be happening now.
Every year, Automattic has a “Grand Meetup,” where every member of the company comes together at a specific location, and we work together for a week. This year we were in Whistler, Canada. It was a very magical place, and I had a lot of great experiences.
I received a phone call from my Grandmother on the last day for the Grand Meetup. During the phone call she informed me that the doctors said that there was nothing more they could do for Terry, and they intended to move her into hospice care. I was devastated. Despite being in a wonderful place filled with some of my favorite people in the whole world, it was the last place I wanted to be. I was going to leave early in the morning, the next day, so trying to find an earlier flight wasn’t a reasonable thing to do. I had to sit and wait. So I did, and I cried. I ugly cried all over the place. I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to sit beside my Aunt’s bed and hold her hand. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her.
Many Automatticans saw me cry. I generally don’t like to be around people when I get very emotional, but I had so many meetings and so much project stuff to do, that I couldn’t just sit in my room all day.
I’ve worked in many companies, and unfortunately, I always get sad news while I am working. I found out about the death of the woman I considered my step-mother while working in the middle of a call center. I received news of my best friend dying in a car accident in the middle of a pre-sales meeting with a group of businessmen. In most cases, my emotions scared people away. People pretended that I didn’t exist, and waited to communicate with me until I seemed normal. Most places I worked, my co-workers never wanted to bleed the lines between a professional relationship and a personal one. I was afraid a similar thing was going to happen while at the Grand Meetup.
My experience at the Grand Meetup was the total opposite.
From the moment I was in tears, I had people from all over the company come up to hug me, and tell me they support me. I knew many of these folks for years, but in many cases, people I barely knew still came up to me and asked how I was doing. No one at Automattic allowed me to suffer alone. Everyone asked me to tell my story on why I was sad. They listened, understood, and in some cases cried with me.
I tried to sneak away to my room a couple times after the work time was done, but when I did my slack would explode with direct messages of: “Where the hell did you go?” “What room are you in?” “If you don’t tell me where you are right now I am going to start banging every door at the hotel to find you.”
No one forced me to feel differently. No one simply told me to just “Cheer up and get over it.” People allowed me to feel the way I wanted to feel, but everyone reassured me that I wasn’t alone. So many Automatticans took the time to be there for me. I don’t know what I did to receive so much love and support, but I felt very lucky to be where I was at that moment.
Automatticans are the coolest people I know. So many of them care about…well…everything! They do what they do, because they love to do it, and they care how they do it. Our mission to democratize the web, and make the internet a free place, isn’t just a marketing line we use to explain our business. Our mission is something we believe in. We care. We love. We support each other and everyone who asks for help. We don’t do things because it’s the best way to make money. We do the things we do because we want to make the world a better place. We give away so many of our awesome work for free. We give back to various open source projects. We help WordPress users become more successful.
This mentality is best represented by what happened to me on the last day of the Grand Meetup. In most companies, I’m just another worker–a stranger–but here, I was treated like a brother. The immense levels of love and support gave me hope that things will be better.
So Automattic, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much! Y’all are an amazing group of people and I am deeply honored to be able to work with all of you everyday.
P.S. We are hiring!