The week before last I met up with 570-ish of my Automattic colleagues in Whistler, British Columbia for our annual Grand Meetup — and what a Grand Meetup it was! I’m still tired and I should have posted this a week ago, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:
Each year at our company meetup, we’re asked to give an up-to-four-minute-long “flash talk” about any subject. The fact that I hadn’t done one about The X-Files in my 5 years of meetups is either a crime or a miracle, depending on who you ask.
But last September, I let my freaky Phile flag fly. Here’s the result:
What a week! Last week, my team met in Montréal to work on projects and planning.
Since it’s fairly close, I rented a minivan and drove the 7+ hours to Montréal. My first meetup road trip! Huzzah! After a brief and unexpected pit stop at the border for some paperwork (harrowing but successful), I was off. There was a lot of Tim Hortons coffee and a Stephen King audiobook involved, and I spent a fair amount of time arguing with Google Maps.
We stayed at a cute boutique hotel downtown, where we could walk to most places. When we couldn’t walk, I also drove the group around, which was an experience. I managed to shatter the right-hand rearview mirror on a narrow detour at night, but I also parallel parked almost perfectly one time, so I figure I broke even (pun intended).
I spent most of my work talking with my teammates in 1-1’s and feedback sessions. We also found out that there are some major changes happening in our division — namely, the dissolution of our division! Thankfully our team is still together, but the announcement gave me pause. I’m also stepping down as team lead when I come back from my leave; it’s bittersweet. I’m still struggling with pre-sabbatical FOMO and anxiety, but I’m sure that will resolve itself as I find other things to occupy my time.
We had a lot of fun in the city, though, braving the cold and rainy weather to go out to eat and activities. There was a storytelling show, a lively ceramics painting session, a tour of the local marketplaces, a craft fair, and a fun group game of Codenames to top off the week.
The trip home was “eventful”. At one point I was stopped at the Quebec/New Brunswick border for a random police check and asked if I had any alcohol, tobacco, or dead bodies in the vehicle. I’m still not sure if he was being serious about that last one…
I also came thisclose to running out of gas in an area with no cell reception and few gas stations; that was exciting, but I made it with 4 miles to spare. Rural NB is no joke!
I’m glad I got to see most of my team one more time before I leave for the majority of the summer. I have no idea what I’ll come back to, but I know it will be positive. Thanks for a great meetup, team!
In many respects, I feel like I’m still new, still learning the ropes. It’s rare that I look at my work as a “grind”; it’s a challenge, and there are definitely times when it’s more stressful than others, but most days I wake up, don my work outfit (ahem sweatpants), and face the day with excitement.
The company has grown so much since I first joined (to the tune of about 380+ people!) but I still feel particularly close to my team, and for that reason I’ve been sheltered from many of the “growing pains” that come from a company’s rapid development from startup to bigger business. It’s not always easy, but we keep it light, and keep on keeping on.
Every five years, Automatticians have the option to take a 2-3 month sabbatical, which is what I’m doing in a couple weeks! It’s a great benefit, and one of the many reasons I love working here, but I can’t help but think of how much I’ll miss the people I work with, and how weird it will be not to think about my job for several weeks.
Here’s to the next five years! 🙂
The day after the U.S. election, I flew to Barcelona for a team meetup. It was a bittersweet trip; on one hand, I was happy to have the distraction of travel, for the opportunity to escape to a foreign city and immerse myself in something that wasn’t U.S. politics.
On the other, I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to go home, curl up under a blanket and hide.
The election results were a frequent topic of conversation throughout the meetup, but we didn’t let it completely overshadow our fun. Besides, the trip itself threw its own interesting obstacles our way; lost (then found) wallets, viruses, a stolen laptop bag, and only one fluent Spanish speaker in the group, which made for some unique exchanges.
It wasn’t an easy trip, but as always, the people and the city made it worthwhile. Until next time, Theam!