In The Small Hours
Recently a new meeting appeared on my calendar at work. It’s a new group and a “core team” for an emerging and rather exciting new project that crosses many functional teams. Many global teams.
It’s a good sign that I was invited to the table and I take it as the step forward that it is.
The meetings are set for 7:00 in the morning once a week in order to accommodate as many time zones as possible. Seven in the ayem. I rarely like rising by seven in the morning, much less well before so I can rise and feed the cat and get dressed and drive to work in order to be there by 7:00am.
That said, I find these early mornings to be a little odd and endearing. As much as I hate rising before the sun, those wee hours are also sort of fascinating.
This morning I stepped through the door from my building into the damp morning air. A fairly thick fog lay hugging the pavement as streetlights lit it with an ethereal glow. It was so quiet. Odd because in just an hour this same stretch of road will be backed up with the traffic of parents dropping their kids off at the nearby school, and punk kids walking and screaming and laughing and being obnoxious teenagers. Plus kids wailing at the nearby playground and the rumble of trucks and cars and the world coming alive.
But for these few precious moments, the world is silent. Quiet fog like the paws of a night animal sneaks and swirls through the streets.
Even with extra caution to avoid local deer and morning walkers, my usual twenty minute drive to work takes just ten and I think “hey, I’ll get to park in that one awesome parking spot right by the front door” but of course that’s not true. I’m not the only soul wandering the quiet workaday streets.
The tall multistoried edifice where I work looks imposing in the darkness. It is backlit by floodlights and the mist swirls high above the penthouse suite. The windows of the building are mirrored and in the daylight, this provides both security and uniformity. All you see is a solid wall of reflection.
In these dark hours, I can see into offices. There on the eighth floor I see an executive in his office bustling about. He looks almost frantic, pacing around the space. I suspect he is on an early call and the stress of the business day is already nattering in his ear.
I can see that lights were left on in The Big CEO office area. He has a nice office. I’ve actually been in that space, just once when he wasn’t there. I wonder why the lights are on because he’s not in there and his admin isn’t at work yet. Did someone forget and leave the lights on?
I can see multiple computer monitors on his desk and I wonder how many emails he must get in a day. Maybe it’s not that many as he has not one but two executives as direct reports. I bet they get all the email and he gets to be the “face of the company” and attends marketing events and drinks something expensive and drives something expensive and I bet he is working from home today anyway.
As my tummy rumbles I wonder if the executive suite gets breakfast catered in.
It’s too early in the morning to eat. My tummy is both hungry and nauseous. In about an hour I will be ravenous.
It’s so early that the main door to the main building is locked. During the day it’s open to all visitors and staff, but this morning I can’t actually remember where the badge reader is located. It’s not right next to the door and I recall it’s cleverly hidden in what looks like a light pole. So cleverly hidden it’s impossible to find.
I wave my badge around everywhere in the vicinity like a mad multi-limbed Shiva until I finally hear that satisfying click and I open the door and enter the lobby.
The security guard nearing the end of his overnight shift looks at me with knitted brows and doesn’t reply to my chirpy “good morning”.
It’s ok. I was faking the chirp anyway. I wouldn’t say hi to me either.
Pushing the up button to call the elevator, I’m happy to see the doors open immediately. I believe that when the elevators aren’t being used, all cars return to the first floor. It’s usually a dreadfully long wait during business hours, but not today. I ride up to my floor, stride to my office and flick on the lights. Immediately I put on my wireless desk headset and dial into the call.
And now someone in the parking lot can see me, my form bustling about my office as the stresses of the day begin to whisper in my ear. As I announce my entry to the call and greet the team, I already feel weary. I began mentally running through the day’s calendar trying to remember when I can actually leave work and head home.
I came in early so I can leave early, right?
Alas no. Pesky time zones. I have a call to an APAC country very late this afternoon.
And this is how my employers get their money’s worth out of me.
Not my building but surprisingly similar. This building is in Minneapolis. Mine is not.
Photo by drouu and used royalty free from stock.xchng.