When I Met Brett

Yesterday Brett Terpstra officially announced that he quit his job and is heading out on his own as an independent writer, developer and man about the web. He is asking for your support in this new endeavor. Go thank Brett with kind words, a cup of coffee or, hell, a new Mac Pro if you can swing it. Or go buy Marked 2, his excellent Markdown preview (and so much more) app.

I want to tell just a small story about Brett.

Back in May of 2012 I noticed on Twitter that Brett was in New York City for a work thing. I told him I was around if he had time to kill and he obliged. We set a time and place down in the East Village to meet.

This was after Fountain for Marked. By then I had thought of Brett as an “Internet friend,” which is to say someone I could tweet at who might tweet back but probably wouldn’t listen to my life story over whiskey.

When I met Brett he was with a work friend. Not knowing what’s good they told me to pick a place we could sit and have a drink. I took them to McSorley’s Old Ale House, something of a tourist trap with sawdust on the floor that only serves small glasses of their house beer. It was a bit of a mistake on my part but we got a round and got to talking.

Text editors, apps, code, bloggers; we covered it all. I remember not knowing, at the time, whether or not Macdrifter’s identity was public. It seems so long ago now; Gabe Weatherhead has since become another of my Internet friends. Eventually we changed venues to one of my favorite bars where the conversation continued over a few more drinks.

On our walk back the time came for us to split ways. I was headed to the subway, Brett and his co-worker were headed back to their hotel. When it came time to say goodbye, I offered the usual pleasantries. “Nice to finally meet you” and “great hanging out” and so forth.

Brett offered the same and one more. I’d like to say I’ll never forget what Brett told me but the truth is I don’t recall his exact words, just the sentiment. He said something along the lines of: “I like what you do. So keep on doing it.” When he said it I could tell that he had heard this advice before and it had impacted him. Brett wasn’t complementing me, he was encouraging me.

I tell this now to show what kind of a person Brett Terpstra is. Even the breadth of his free projects don’t quite get to what a giving person he is. On his podcast he invites listeners to come on as guests; on his site he points readers to numerous unknown apps and developers; on Twitter he is always willing to lend a helping hand, even if only to recommend a great whiskey. And in private he’s there with a kind word to help you on your way, even if you take him to one of the crappiest bars in New York.

Brett is a real mensch who has given so much to so many. Consider sending something back his way.

Best of luck, Brett. And thanks for everything.