My apartment had a mouse infestation when my HuffPost internship began in 2010. Today is my last day with the company, and I find myself thinking about one mouse from that time in particular.
On one of my first days in the old intern office, I was filing a story on Michael Vick's pit bulls when my bag shuffled an inch across the desk. Then it shuffled again. I began shrieking and flapping my hands around.
Among 15-odd strangers, one hauled open a jammed window as another rifled through my backpack's contents of sweaty gym clothes, sandwich wrappers and chewed-up pens. The other bright-eyed, bewildered interns debated the best strategy to harmlessly remove the mouse. We democratically ruled that it was an innocent stowaway embroiled in a transportation nightmare, and deserved to live. We let it escape to freedom, landing in front of an unsuspecting pedestrian.
This is how I see HuffPost. A bunch of strangers who quickly become family, uniting to help each other during the most stressful of times, each bringing his/her own unique perspective, skills and passions to form a powerhouse team.
I have seen it time and time again. I saw it on that slow Sunday news night when Osama bin Laden was killed. Within minutes of word that Obama would be taking over the airwaves at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday, hundreds of people were strategizing online, dozens more were pouring into the office, Keith Urbahn's tweet made the rounds, and the inexhaustible Whitney Snyder introduced me to breaking sirens on splashes. Sunday plans were quickly obsolete because we were not only witnessing history but knew we had to responsibly share it.
I saw it when our data centers were flooded by Hurricane Sandy and we pushed information out over Blogsmith, Twitter, Facebook -- any platform available to ensure we continued providing critical information 24/7. As New York was plunged into darkness, team members from across the country and world jumped in to help, while electricity-deprived reporters and editors hunkered down everywhere from a car surrounded by rising sea waters to a hospital waiting room. And in the aftermath, HuffPost didn't forget about those left in the dark. The team hammered away at coastal development failures, analyzed climate change influences, and continued asking the tough questions long after the storm had passed.
This is a company where your boss wishes you a happy birthday before even your own mother remembers. It's a team that has developed a Pavlovian response to the beer bell, not just because it means free drinks but because it means more time that we can all spend together. This is a group of people whose animal gifs and insider tips on free food are expressions of love. It's a company that comes together to strategize everything from a hurricane response to how to evacuate a mouse from a backpack.
There are also dozens of people who work here every day to ensure that our coffee-doused laptops are fixed, our free samples in the mail are delivered, our failed print jobs are recycled, and our bananas aren't hot. They too are an integral part of HuffPost.
I will be leaving the company to evade my 96 percent full email inbox and become executive editor at The Dodo. I am proud to call HuffPost my family, and will always be grateful for how everyone there made me into who I am today (the good parts, at least. My irrational fear of humans dressed as animals and my mild cake frosting allergy should not be attributed to my time with the company.)
I have been lucky enough to travel to various corners of the world, in large part thanks to HuffPost. Every country, city, and block presents a unique culture, but I also see a common thread in the acts of kindness from perfect strangers. I've experienced it everywhere from the woman who shared her pasta with me in Patagonia when I had only congealed instant mashed potatoes, to the man who spent three hours helping me buy a train ticket in Japan, to the driver who gave me his water while I threw up over the side of a train in India during a monsoon.
Surrounded by stories of shutdowns and earthquakes and birds falling from the sky, it is easy to forget that there are good people in this world. There are good people and they are everywhere. The climate is changing, shootings are weakening America, and I'm pretty sure the good orange juice is never, ever returning to the HuffPost vending machines. But I believe our efforts have made the world a better place for future generations, and will continue to do so. That's what gets me out of bed in the morning. That, and soy lattes.
This piece was originally written as a company-wide email.