After six and a half years, it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end, but today is my last day with my company. I was the sixteenth employee and, as the fourth employee (first person the three founders hired) called me, one of the originals. This place has been a big part of my life for a long time and I’m really sad to leave, but I know it’s time and this is the right move for me to make.
When I was interviewing with my company, I actually hadn’t planned on accepting the offer, if one was made. It was a career direction I wanted to take, but I had zero confidence in myself at the time to actually be able to not make a fool of myself. But when the offer did come, I couldn’t refuse it. Just like I know the decision I’m making now is the right one, I knew this was the right one then. I very nervously accepted and prepared myself for what was likely to be a huge failure.
A couple weeks later, I stepped foot into our old office, which shared a parking lot with a Wegmans, for the first time. I was incredibly nervous and, because it was a friend who had taken the risk of making sure I at least got an interview (he did not participate any further in the hiring process), I didn’t want to let anyone down.
The office was small and I was given the last window seat available, which was weird because the two owners who were also engineers didn’t have window seats or offices. I hated it that first day. I felt so out of place, like a fraud. I hadn’t gone to school for this and I had only taught myself how to program a couple years prior. I didn’t know the first thing about object-oriented programming. I really didn’t know much at all, to be honest. This was a feeling that wouldn’t go away for a year.
I wanted to quit almost every day, but I stuck it out. Not only did I end up finding my place here, but I became a valuable member of our engineering team and helped build are payroll product from very early on.
I wanted to share my favorite memories, but I’ve drafted about six different versions of this post and couldn’t get it right so I think I’m just going to do this in list form rather than as actual paragraphs.
- …the Friday during my first summer when there were only three of us in the office thanks to everyone else having summer hours and we decided to have a dance party with a few beers in the storage room.
- …the countless times I was screamed at and made to feel like a complete idiot by the one of the owners who was an extremely no bullshit Russian developer. He was the kind of person who would frequently tell you you’re an idiot right to your face. I received his wrath more than my fair share, but it helped me become a better developer. I learned to really dig deep into things and do my due diligence. I learned a lot from him.
- …my first summer outing with the company. We went to a bar at the Jersey Shore and I got a bit too drunk thanks to our CEO at the time handing out drinks like the world was ending. Our Marketing Director was even more drunk than I was and ended up getting us both kicked out of the bar (I still maintain my innocence in this). A half hour later, I lost my shoes in the ocean.
- …repeatedly walking by my wife’s cube in our old building, many months before we started dating, and cutting the corner a little too close resulting in me hip checking her desk.
- …the rather ridiculous amounts of alcohol we used to consume in our old building.
- …the chili from the cafe downstairs that is leaps and bounds above anything else she makes.
- …the AMAZING support I got when I came out as transgender. Seriously, I can’t even begin to describe how easy it was to come out here. Everyone continued to treat me the same as they had before and had no problems switching to calling me Amelia and using female pronouns. Even when slipping up, people would quickly correct themselves. On my first day in the office as Amelia, this is what I walked into the women’s room to see:
- …playing ping pong almost daily. A group of us in engineering have a standing doubles game every day. For a while, it was actually scheduled in our calendars so no one else could book us for meetings or use the lounge during this time. When I set up the “meeting” and invited everyone, I named it “team building” so it looked legit. It was never questioned.
- …having to come out as trans to three different HR people because they kept leaving the company during my transition.
- …the trip to Brussels they sent my wife on that I was able to tag along for.
- …SaaS-pocalypse (the name is derived from our company name). On a random late January day, the owners of our company decided that, for some reason, things needed to be shaken up so they fired almost 20% of the company in one day. It was actually really scary and, to this day, none of us really know the full story, but it definitely had nothing at all to do with money. People were called into the conference room one-by-one to meet with their manager and our Operations Director and told that they were being let go. In the middle of these meetings, I was asked to come into the conference room. I couldn’t believe it, I was going to be one of the people being fired? It actually turned out that they wanted to tell me I was doing a really great job and were giving me more money. I never could feel good about this raise though. I wanted to give it back in exchange for everyone else’s jobs being saved.
- …crushing on my wife. She started a few months after me and I thought she was pretty cute from day one, but we’re both a bit awkward and were dating other people at the time. I used to try to make conversation with her, but it wouldn’t go anywhere. Eventually, we were both single and she Skyped me one day to tell me she had a dream about me (!). We got to talking about cupcakes and then went on our first date two days later–neither of us were actually sure if it was a date until afterwards.
- …the time a very vague company-wide email was sent out telling everyone to go into the lounge in a half hour and I joked “hah, they probably sold the company or something” and turned out to be right on.
- ..the random collection of money that started in the kitchen. No one knows where it came from, but two dollars were left on one of the tables in the kitchen for a few days. No one knew what it was for or who it belonged to, but eventually everyone started throwing money on the pile and a collection started for no reason. I think we hit somewhere around $120 before someone decided to take the money and order pizza for the office.
- …the time I drank too much at our first partner workshop. The entire company was invited to go down to Atlantic City for a party during the workshop and I had more than a few too many drinks. I ended up kissing one of our partners while we were walking over to the after-party. Our CEO told me I should probably leave and, a few days later, I had a meeting with him and one of the other owners where I got a serious lecture and a written warning.
- …The Bear. For a brief period of time right after our company was acquired by a much larger one, we had an awful manager for engineering. This guy was just the worst. He told me it was mandatory for me to say “good morning” and “good evening” every day when I walked in and out and sat down one of our team leads for an hour while he broke down why he thinks he’s an awful person. The disdain for him was so universal that our entire department banned together to get rid of him. We won. I never take joy in someone losing their job (or really anything bad happening to anyone), but this guy was just the worst. The anniversary of his firing has been since observed as Bear Freedom Day.
- …the Pop Tart tower. One of our engineers used to eat Pop Tarts every day and saved each and every box so he could build a tower that reached to the ceiling. Then he built a second one.
- …the time we didn’t get paid because the person who did our payroll went on vacation and forgot to submit it.
- …the time I didn’t get a paycheck after we were acquired and no one could ever explain why.
- …the time my manager didn’t have a timecard in the system (even though we’re salary, you still need one for the system to create a paycheck) and his manager told him “we’ll get you next time.”
- …joking “well, it’s not like we’re a payroll company or anything” after the above three things happened.
- …the Seat of Death. No one who sat in the cube next to me survived more than a year with the company so we nicknamed it the Seat of Death.
- …the excellent view from my corner cube with windows on two sides. One side faced some nice trees and the other faced the field behind the building. (The below photo sphere will not work and will just show a map if you don’t have plugins enabled.) (Notice where I wrote “balls” on the dry erase board visible just over the left wall of my cube.)
- …Bagel Fridays.
- …Waffle Wednesdays.
- …all the cooking/baking contests that my wife won. Every once in a while, we’d have office cooking contests. My wife almost always won. In fact, one time, she entered two dishes and won first and second place.
- …The General. We had a developer we nicknamed The General. He wasn’t very good, but he left quite a legacy for sleeping while at work, staring creepily at you as you walked by his desk, and losing ping pong games on bad serves on game point.
- …all the birds I could always watch outside my window. (These were all taken while sitting at my desk)
- …the day I decide I wanted a second monitor so I just took one that was sitting on an empty desk and hooked it up and sort of ticked everyone else off. Then the day I decided I wanted a third and took another unused monitor.
- …conversations with my product manager about heading to Arizona with flamethrowers to take out the people at a third party vendor we rely on for a tax calculation API.
- …catching my coworker staring awkwardly at me yesterday and asking him “uh…what’s up? Why are you staring at me?” and having him respond with “I’m just going miss you, that’s all.”
- …the never ending supply of “that’s what she said” jokes at all times.
- …the delicate balance of everyone trying to heat up their lunch without running too many appliances at once and blowing the circuit breaker.
- …Evil Landlord, our sitcom idea based around one of our engineers renting out his basement apartment to another one of our coworkers.
- …the convoluted and overly abstracted code base filled with some of the most amazing typos you’ve ever seen.
- …leaving comments in the code like “WTF is even going on here?” and “this should never happen.”
- …lunchtime arguments over such topics as “is peach really a color?”
- …Color Blindness Awareness Day and French Awareness Day.
- …having lunch on the back patio every nice day of the year.
- …Fancy Paul and the guys from the company across the hall. I wish I could even describe Fancy Paul to someone who didn’t experience him, but boy was he fancy!
- …the friends I’ve made and all the times we’ve shared together.
So many memories of this place. It really was like a family in a lot of ways. Sure, the job had more than its fair share of things I hated and drove me nuts, but I’m really only going to remember all the good stuff. This was a big part of my life and I’m really sad to see it go.
Thank you to everyone who made it amazing. I will truly miss it.