Hello, homepeople. I’m typing this on a new laptop, and my fingers are really having a hard time going to the right places. Not sure what’s different about this keyboard, but hopefully the fingers learn their new places quickly. Speaking of new places, I’m leaving my current company this week for a new job. It’s been five and a half years and an eventful, wild ride, but it’s time for me to move on (and for something I’m excited about).

The week before last, I started telling colleagues and the response has been truly heartwarming. Many people I’ve worked pretty closely with have said really touching things, and it’s shown that I made more of an impact than I realized. A couple even cried, which made me feel both honored and horrible at the same time. All in all though, it validates the importance of how we treat each other (i.e. as humans first, and colleagues/employees a distant second), so that’s been quite positive.

I’ve also received a lot of thank yous and warm wishes from people I haven’t actually spoken to much if at all, and while those are nice, I take them with a whole handful of salt. Why? Because I’ve seen the flipside of that more than once. Would you like examples? Of course you would.

Back in late 2017, I had to change the bonus structure of a program we’d rolled out earlier in the year for a team in another state. Even though I told everyone when we started it that it was only a test, they’d gotten used to the extra money, and I understood that they were upset. Some took it in stride, but others…quite less so. I had not met many of these people, but the personal attacks started flowing. On a job review site, anonymous reviews came in quickly from those who had quit after the change. One referenced me sitting back in my mansion counting my money. Another talked about me only having my job because of favoritism and being born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and two separate ones made fun of me for “only having an English degree.” Those things bounced off me in a way I never would have predicted because I knew they were completely off-base. (Ok, the English major comments stung a little, even if there’s no reason that would preclude me from being good at my job.) If I’d felt like any of the comments were spot-on critiques or even half truths, they would’ve bothered me for a while.

But my favorite comment – and I mean it sincerely – came directly from an employee who ended his message with an announcement that he quit. Well, after he called me “scum” and suggested that I rethink my life. The quote of the year though came toward the beginning of his message: “I cannot stand another day slaving away in this hell hole. You’re a greedy, small minded weasel.” As an English major, I’d like to point out that his compound adjective should probably have a hyphen, but that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is I’d never been called anything of the sort and actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I put “GSMW” on the white board by my desk and wore it as a badge of honor. Here’s the thing: I know I’m not greedy, and I’m quite comfortable with the size of my mind. Pretty sure I’m not a weasel either. (Side note: one colleague suggested that the “weasel” part was anti-Semitic, but I think that’s a reach.) This was just an angry person feeling good about himself for quitting with both middle fingers in the air. I’d never leave a job in that fashion, but maybe that’s because weasels don’t have opposable thumbs and it wouldn’t look as cool.

My white board had some other initials on it too: OOT&E. That one came a year or two later when someone else was quitting. After saying he was sorry he didn’t get to know me on a personal level since he’d heard good things, he slipped in a dig that said I came off as “out of touch and elitist.” I read that and said aloud, “I’m totally not out of touch. Elitist? Eh, I can kinda see that one.” Either way, it made it on the board and my team and I would point to it whenever anything even remotely fit the description. It was quite the running gag . If someone asked for change and I said I only had a 20, they’d point to the board. If I hadn’t heard of a hip hop artist that was apparently quite famous, they’d point again. I loved all of it.

While writing this post I received another very touching thank you email from someone I’ve worked with over the last few years. It gives me confidence that I’ll be taking much more than just my work-related skills with me to my new gig. And since none of my future colleagues know that I’m a GSMW yet or how OOT&E I am, I get a chance to make the whole gamut of impressions again. I find that PFE.