Friday, July 8, 2011

Matt takes a new job when Uncle Sam comes calling

When I was a child, I saw a show on TV starring Kurt Russell (always awesome. I mean, have you seen Big Trouble in Little China?). He played this teenage secret agent. He was always pulling out these cool gadgets, and when his friend asked where he got it, he'd say, "My uncle gave it to me." The uncle was Uncle Sam.

Today I resigned after 12 years at USA TODAY. I love working there, but my uncle called and I came running. Granted, I asked the uncle for a job.

Here is a version of the note I sent a handful of friends:
I wanted to tell you in person, but I lack the powers of Jamie Madrox, Multiple Man (semi-obscure comic book reference in farewell note: Check). Plus, if I told you in person I might tear up. This would make Claren sad. In turn I would try to cheer up, but would invariably make awkward sobbing noises. So email is best.
I am taking a job in the communications office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. My dad and a grandfather were lifelong civil servants and my uncle works with Fish and Wildlife now, so I am excited. I will be mostly working on an internal newsletter, writing speeches and stuff. They are also switching up their CMS so maybe I will stick my nose in there.
When I started here in '99, I quickly thought I might retire here. I enjoyed the job, but more than that the people were more awesome than I could imagine. Both of those things remain true today, but you are the reason I am still  here. And as happy as I am to take this new job, I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm scared, sad to leave and more than a little guilty for abandoning you. 
Short term, I think that's a huge plus for you. I feel so bad for leaving you, I'll do just about anything I am asked.  
Thank you all for making me a better thinker and a better journalist. Mostly, though, thank you for making me a better person.
PS -- And yes Claren is coming with me.
PPS -- my last day will be July 22. 

Making it even harder was that everyone was happy for me, and when I apologized for leaving, told me I have nothing to be sorry for. (Well except for the one friend who said she was mad because she had just finished her eye makeup.)

I am so nervous but excited, too. I know it'll be fun and challenging, and I know I'll be good.

I think of my grandfather's government service a lot. He got a presidential medal from Eisenhower. Dad worked for the Commerce Department his whole life. My real uncle is going to be on a panel with the Interior secretary. If I do half as well as any of them, I will be a success.


Anonymous said...

ok, so your email made me cry. but what about your sister-in-law who has been a civil servant since law school? almost 20 years. no matter how many people bash civil servants, know that you are joining the ranks of many of the smartest and nicest people i have ever met. cool news about uncle joe.

Tony said...

As far as Kurt Russell goes, I'll take Escape from New York.

The move will definitely be exciting and still make you nervous I'm sure, but you'll be fine.

Good luck!

And as sdt said, "cool news about Joe."

Anonymous said...

Hello! The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes?!
Don't forget Gram was a civil servant for a couple of months before she married her boss.
You're so awesome!

Matt Trott said...

OK,a)i forgot you were that old, sdt.

Tony, this is what i mean about Kurt. Executive Decision was also cool.

I wondered if it was the Computer who wore Tennis shoes. Thanks, JTG. Gram may have been a civil servant, but she was falling asleep at dictation and stuff. Best not to copy her.

Mark Memmott said...

Matt: good luck. I know you will be missed.

-- Mark Memmott

Gina said...

Congrats Matt! Certainly a long way from late nights in the Spruce Street building at the Journal.

Matt Trott said...

Spruce Street! Good recall. You work for the British govt. (still right?), I'm with the US. Now we just got to get Darrell,Betty and Sara hooked up with countries and we can have our own UN.

Thanks Mark! Long time ...

Steve said...

Good luck, Matt, and I'll see you in the office too soon!

Matt Trott said...

Thanks Steve!

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