Leaving is the hardest part. It gets better. It’s like graduation. Sad and happy all at once. — Ryan McKeen
For all of us, beginning FreedMcKeen meant ending something else. For me, it meant leaving Hartford Steam Boiler, where over the course of five plus years I have had the privilege to work with exceptionally wonderful people.
I got to have dinner last week with two of them, Darren and John. We had a terrific evening that left me very nostalgic. Ryan and I spent some time talking — Ryan and I talk a lot — about the contrast between our extreme excitement to be starting our new firm and the sadness that comes from leaving a place where you truly valued and just plain liked your colleagues. Ryan said it’s like graduation, and he’s right. It is. The bitter with the sweet.
I work most closely with Darren, Beth, and Donna. Darren is a great lawyer and a great friend. I will darken his door often. Really, really often. I cannot imagine functioning without Beth’s depth of knowledge, organizational skills, candor, and sense of humor. Donna is so very funny and never loses perspective no matter the latest workplace kefuffle.
Our law department at The Boiler is small. Besides the four of us we have Bobby, Chuck, Tim, Faye, Elaine, and Cathy. They are smart, they are kind, they put up with the noise that we litigator types make. It is a lot of noise. All the time.
When we celebrate a birthday in-house counsel land, the birthday girl/boy cuts and passes the cake to the left. It goes all the way around the circle until it lands back at the birthday girl/boy. It is an inefficient, weird, and nice tradition. Chuck writes songs about boilers. (They are good.) Elaine hand-designs customized greeting cards for us. Beth decorates our office for Christmas with an animal theme. (It involves origami arks.) We may be lawyer-types, but most of us have HSB hard hats in our offices. (Mine came with me. It is the first thing I brought to the new office.) On one of our filing cabinets sits a large model train which, when our company was purchased by Munich RE, suddenly donned a green Bavarian Alpine hat complete with feather.
My legal co-workers are quirky, and understanding of my many quirks. I am lucky.
And it’s not just the law department. Folks in tax, accounting, finance, underwriting, marketing, IT, and human resources have become friends and advisors.
I will miss tremendously my colleagues in the claims department. On paper we are, almost to a one, different. I am a woman and they are men; I am gay and they are not; I am liberal and they are not. None of that has ever had any significance other than to make our conversations more interesting. We are comrades and confidants. We have survived crazy battles and situations together, and some of my very fondest memories are those that I spent with them immersed in litigation or tucked into dinner across the country from Idaho to Georgia to California to South Dakota to Texas to Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania.
If they don’t call me when they are in Hartford to visit the home office they will break my heart and I will have their heads.
Farewell, Boiler friends.