Workplace Camaraderie and Continuing the Fight to Defeat ALS – The Bamboo Way

It was a typical Thursday when I got to work that morning. After what seemed like an endless winter, it was a glorious early spring morning with sunshine and warmer temperatures. I was singing as I walked into the office. With my freshly brewed coffee and a handful of nuts, I was ready to start my day. When I logged in and read a humorous email from Chris Dooley telling us that our long-lost co-worker, John Anderson, had finally remembered his way to the office, I had my first chuckle of the day. Chris invited everyone to stop by the kitchen around 12:30 for lunch and to give John grief for thinking he could work from home so long without us noticing. John, who is our managing editor, has been sorely missed of late. Unfortunately, his ALS has forced him to stay home as getting around is not as easy as it used to be.

Why lunch? Well, here at Bamboo we’ll take any excuse to eat and party! When John arrived, he had his parents with him, as they were in town for a visit from Charleston, SC. Several coworkers gathered in the halls, laughing with them and making them feel at home. They told us how much they appreciate our company, and tell their friends about the little things we do. Bamboo does do things differently. We have a corporate motto centered on the Bamboo Way about being scalable, reliable, and flexible. But beyond our corporate image, there is something more at this company that you don’t see visibly. It is something unique that sets this enterprise apart from others.  It is a sense of caring and professionalism, a way we help each other out, a way of going beyond ourselves and aspiring to be our best as people, not just corporate citizens. And we put that untouchable something into practice.

John’s disease has created some challenges in how to keep the bills paid while going through his journey. We all know the outcome of ALS and how devastating it can be to a family’s day-to-day existence. I know from my own personal experience what it is like to live with someone who is terminal, who cannot work but still has to support his family. My mother cared for my father at home when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, an incurable kind. His co-workers raised a few dollars every Friday and sent it home so my mom could feed the four of us. Neighbors paid for our weekly milk, butter, and egg deliveries. They babysat us so my mom could get a few winks of a nap in between her caretaker duties. So I know from what I lived through in my childhood how tough it is to get through the days and weeks and months, knowing your loved one will be leaving you soon. It isn’t easy. You want to cry or scream or both most days. But the love and support of those surrounding you go a long way in making the journey a little easier to bear.

To make things easier for John’s family, several Bamboo employees have donated our sick time so John would not have to dig into his disability just yet. We hope to have him around a lot longer. A whole lot longer! If we could all wave a magic wand and eradicate this disease from the planet, we would. Until that time, we will continue doing what we can to enjoy the time we have with John. His humor and his dedication to his work have not been affected at all. Chris presented him with a plaque (not a gold watch) as a small token for his years with the company. It is minuscule compared to the words John has edited, written, and provided as education to innumerable SharePointers who follow Bamboo Nation.

If you have read anything about ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and face). This crippling disease can strike anyone. Presently there is no known cause of the disease yet it still costs loved ones an average of $200,000 a year to provide the care ALS patients need. For a writer, who uses his arms and hands in his line of duty, it is a tough pill to swallow.  Last year we walked in the DC Walk to Defeat ALS and we are doing it again this year.

Whatever we can do for John as a company, we will do.  It is going to be a beautiful spring this year. The sun will shine. The snow will stop falling. John will come to the office when he can. The cycle of life will continue. We have hope. This is the Bamboo Way.