The first time I saw Monty was at RTX 2011.
We were in the big ballroom, going from cast member to cast member getting autographs and pictures. As often happens in this amazing community, I knew absolutely no one before I went to Austin, but struck up a conversation with @halo_dudette and we ended up making the rounds together taking pictures for each other.
We were in the Matt line (one of the longest) and Jeff Williams bounces over to us and starts an incredibly enthusiastic conversation (to be honest, he's ALWAYS enthusiastic - that weekend cemented him as one of the most fascinating people I've ever had the honor to meet). Soon after, Monty comes up and perches on one of the chairs. I say perched, because it's true; my actual picture is still stuck on my old digital camera that I can't find the transfer cable to, but in my memory it looks very similar to this:
He and Jeff then proceed to have an even more enthusiastic conversation of which I unfortunately remember nothing.
Honestly I was so amazed that I was one of the lucky 400ish that made it there and so overwhelmed at actually physically meeting these people I had come to adore through the internet that most of that weekend just exists in my head in a big fangirly blur.
The only other picture I have of him from that weekend was from the office tour; when we got to the studio, we looked over to the corner, and there he was working at his desk like we weren't even there. I even captioned it: "Dozens of tours going on through the office, and Monty's still working as if it were a normal day... I don't think that man sleeps at all. Or ever stops working." From all the stories being shared this week, it was probably an accurate statement.
I saw him mostly from a distance at the next 3 RTXs, and he was nice enough to stay after on Sunday nights with most of the cast to sign things and/or take pictures with the Guardians after the Expo hall closed, so I have a couple of things with his autograph. But I wish I had somehow been able to scrape together a couple of sentences to tell him how amazing I thought his work was; but I know nothing about animation - what would I even say? I figured I'd probably have just sounded stupid, so I didn't say anything. I don't necessarily regret that, because I don't need any more embarrassing moments to add to my brain's extensive catalog of them. But it's an opportunity I'll never have again, and if nothing else it has told me to stop being scared. Stop being scared of what people think, stop being scared of being myself. You never know what a simple "I love your work" could do for someone - even if it's just to make their day one iota better.
A few months ago he tweeted something and I loved it so much I printed it out and it has been on my overhead at work ever since; I read it every day.
"The complainers are often louder and more frequent. Keep doing what you're doing, it means more to the silent."
We love you, Monty.