The Pin Thing

A lot of people have been very kind to indulge my eccentricities over the years. Most recently, I’ve been handing out pins with my picture on them. Here’s the real story as to why I started and why I haven’t stopped.

About a year ago, I was lucky enough to work on the Distill conference with Eamon Leonard and the Community and Marketing teams at Engine Yard. Eamon plumbed his personal network to get us great speakers in the Keynote slots and he had no intention of letting us down. Among other, he managed to wrangle Harper Reed and Dylan Richard to do an amazing talk on coding and empathy. It was really a transformative talk.

At the end of said talk, Dylan stood by the side of the stage speaking to attendees and handing out buttons for their company, Modest. I thought Harper was doing the same thing at the other side of the stage and I wanted to congratulate him on the awesome talk as I had Dylan. I noticed there was a different pin he was handing out…one with his face on it.

I immediately thought, “This is either the most egotistical thing I’ve ever seen, or one of the most amazing”. I asked him about it and he said basically it was for fun. Why not?

A month or so later I found myself going for it. Busy Beaver, as I was told by Harper that evening, was the place to go. So I made a first batch and started handing them out.

But the story doesn’t end there…of course it doesn’t.

Many people took to the idea, taking pics of them while on holiday, showing them to friends - it was exciting…and utterly absurd.

Around this time, my mother’s health started taking a downward spiral. I began spending more time with her and she noticed the pins on my bag, where Harper had now been joined by Ada Lovelace, John Yerhot, and Will Jessop’s trollface. I explained to her what was going on and that I had a pin too. Of course I didn’t put my own pin on my bag…that’s ridiculous.

She asked if she could have one, a PJ Pin. I of course said yes. The touching part was she wore it every day. Without fail, moving it from fleece to hoody to sweater every time she dressed. She really enjoyed the inanity of it and I think there was a bit of motherly pride in wearing it. I never asked why, and I should have.

On April 27th, 2015 my mother passed away after a long battle. It wasn’t unexpected but it was a shock nonetheless. Honoring every wish I could, I followed her direction and ensured she had a PJ Pin on when she was put to rest.

I’m not sure if this story has meaning except maybe to say it’s the little things. We do things to have a good time while we can, we try to take as much pride in ourselves and what we’ve done as we can. Maybe a silly little picture pin is enough to brighten someone’s day, make them laugh, see the more bizarre side of life. And isn’t that enough of a reason to do something so silly?


A place to ponder...and pander