When I left the US for South Korea almost 4 years ago, I left behind not one but two families. Being a part of a family unit, I know that my presence is integral to the fabric but am not so naive as to believe that it cannot exist without me. So it is now with the expanse of several timezones and a dateline between us that I have learned one of those units is dissolving.
I learned the news via twitter.
I stared at my phone for what seemed like forever. You know they say when the end is near, your entire life flashes before your eyes. Well, the 5 years I spent at FirstTech played like a demo reel. All the joy, all the pain, and all the people. There have been many times when the distance has protected me from feeling. This is one of those times where it only acts like salt in the wound. I’m thankful I was able to visit last summer, to see everyone and give them a hug. I can’t believe it’s going to be gone and I won’t get a chance to properly say goodbye, to grieve alongside the other members of our immense family. So here is my open letter to FirstTech–
OMG! Usually l33t sp34k or text acronyms would seem inappropriate but seeing as how we are a tech company, I think it best sums up my feelings, our feelings. I’m so sorry I can’t be there in person, I hope this letter will do. If I had money, I would jump on a plane and fly to you so that we can cry together, reminisce together, laugh together, and struggle together to see this until the end.
I am told I will go down in history as the fastest hire the company ever made (thanks John and Bob). In my senior year of college, I already had an amazing part-time job at 89.3 The Current, but I missed sales and tech. I felt it would be a good temporary job until I could get something full-time at the station. Little did I know that I would conduct numerous marketing and sales events, eventually move from a part-time sales associate to a full-time position in the training department and in that position get the chance to work with amazing people (especially my fantastic boss Chad, or Chazz as he was known from time to time), get the chance to be on television and in the newspaper, debut a documentary about the Macintosh, begin to understand my passion for teaching and go on my first business trip to the magical land of Cupertino. I did a lot and I learned a lot; leaving my blood, sweat and tears behind.
When I departed in August of 2010, I had been with the company for about 5 years but was still a rookie. So many of my cohorts had been there for decades, some longer than I had been alive. That’s how you know it’s a good company, like a family, they all stick together. Had I not found my calling overseas for an adventure I couldn’t resist, I would still be there with them. The FirstTech family would not exist without the Zuckman family. Arnie, Rick, Harvey and of course their dad (Maury) built this store from a truck full of components into the world’s first Apple reseller and eventually 3 store fronts full of possibly the widest variety of products and services ever offered at an Apple reseller. Getting to work for them was like that movie 3 Men and a Baby and we were all their babies. Arnie always offered his fair and balanced approach to issues, Rick protected us with his CCTV and kept a roof over our heads (albeit a little leaky at times), and Harvey made sure we understood our role in the community. This trinity of men helped shape an industry in Minneapolis and no other collection of qualities could have done it better.
Now I know how actors, directors and so forth feel at awards shows. I feel it’s time to acknowledge some more people, but I don’t even know where to start and am afraid I will forget someone. I already thanked Bob and John, but it warrants thanking you again for accepting me into the family, thank you for doing it so quickly, and thank you for supporting my professional growth all the way. Thank you to Terry for training me in on TYLER. I don’t doubt you have a wireframe of that POS engraved in your brain forever. Thank you to Julie and Nikki who I first worked with after my promotion to Professional Services and who gave a whole new meaning to ‘girl power’ and sombreros. Thank you to Fred for letting me be a dreamer with you and collaborating on so many wonderful things that are now some of my fondest memories: the Rooftop Tech podcast, the 30th Anniversary party, and the opening of the Rochester store. Dave, thank you for being my tech soulmate and working to support me and my visions, I’ll never forget your laugh or how lucky I was to hear it. Thank you to Nancy for always having an open door, an ear willing to hear and for helping to take care of Chad. Chad. . . I don’t type with pause here for effect but because I truly don’t know how to put in words to thank you or express to you my gratitude. You did so much that I don’t know how to quantify it. Just know that getting the chance to work with you was like finding an amazing treasure with a worth that still pays dividends. Of course, thank you to all of you and all that you did and will do. Even though we won’t be under the same roof anymore, we will still be family.
Forever Love, Jessica
For those of you in the Twin Cities, I encourage you to visit the store in the coming week to say goodbye to this important piece of Apple and Uptown history.
The original article that broke the news which includes a clip from the wonderful documentary Welcome to Macintosh:
This story leads with a marketing video that shows several of the amazing people I had the chance to work with: