I wrote this five and a half years ago. Go ahead and read it. Done? (CliffsNotes: Values are a good thing to follow.) It has been an eventful half-decade – I’ve cycled in and out of management here at CodeScience, put multiple products through the AppExchange, and grown my work skills pretty steadily. But… I’m not here to write about that. Let me take you back a bit.

April, 2020. The world was shutting down, there was a killer virus on the loose, and I was pushing myself to the brink. At home, my daughter was out of preschool and we were figuring out how to keep her sane in our 750-square-foot apartment. Outside the house, I was working on a mutual aid plan to cover our little neighborhood with volunteer help for the isolated, sick, or scared. At my job, I had begged and borrowed CodeScientists with free time to work pell-mell on an outbreak management app for public health departments, prodded along by a worried friend of mine (who also happens to be a county health officer. A saint, he is.), all while continuing efforts on billable projects.

After three weeks of this, I had a meeting with my volunteer app development team, and I was incoherent. Disorganized. Scattered. Off the rails. One of my teammates asked me to stay after to talk.

“Dan,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself. I’m taking this project over, as of now.”

“Are you sure?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Go calm down. Take care of your family and yourself. You’re doing too much.”

We ended the call, and I went to my bathroom and heave-cried for ten minutes, feeling my tension and fear and worry bleed away. I was still scared and tired, but my stress was way down. I knew that he had me.

You see, when you’re here, your people have your back. In my time here I’ve seen people step up for teammates with sudden family deaths. I’ve seen people burn the midnight oil so that a new mom could spend more time in the NICU with ill newborns. I’ve seen project teams sent home for the afternoon to Just Get Some Rest. I’ve had teammates take over for me with no notice while I was on a two week jury trial. At CodeScience, they’ve got you.

Oh yeah, the guy who took over my volunteer project? Company founder Mike Witherspoon, giving his time to help out. I’ve been grateful to Mike ever since – he taught me so much that day.

We stumbled our way through a global pandemic, a system-shaking event that changed us all in ways we probably won’t know for decades. Here in California, our world flipped inside out with towering wildfires, smoke index checks, and a day when the sun never shined. Through all that, my daughter went from a softly wailing baby to an opinionated five-year-old kid, my hair went from salt-and-straw to mostly salt, and by early 2022 I was five years into my time here and suffering from some serious burnout.

So we took some time off. Lots, in fact – my family and I dropped everything and literally went around the world. I took a long leave from CodeScience to do it, with the understanding that there wasn’t necessarily going to be a job for me when I got back. But if there was, arms would be open. As it turns out, there was a space. I came back.

I was nervous. Some people had left, some had stayed. Would I still be good at my job? (An important question)

Would people still care? (A more important question)

I got my first inkling on my first day back during our weekly company meeting, a short Monday thing we do where we talk about what’s up with the company, share a few stories, and get going on the week. The screen was full of friendly faces, and my Slack notifications jumped up with “Hey, welcome back” messages. Several people – from the top on down – took the time to check in, say hi, and let me know that they were happy to see me again.

And two months later, I end with a story. We were wrapping up a client project, and one of my teammates went down with a wildfire-induced migraine right toward the end. Unpredictable, disruptive, incredibly painful. Not the kind of thing you can deal with while looking at a screen.

“No worries,” I wrote to her. “Lie down. We got this.”

I was one of three people who wrote that to her. Because here at CodeScience, we got you.