Walking and Waking

Having survived my first day of class only to work late, I took some melatonin in the hope of getting more sleep. I succeed in sleeping until 5AM, but given that I was up until 11:30, it doesn’t feel like a break through. I get out of bed none-the-less and decide that a walk is the most important thing for me to do. I pull on walk-appropriate clothing and decide I will walk to the corporate headquarters that is supposedly right around the corner from the training center.

I start down the road in the gray light of pre-dawn and try to read the signs pointing me in the right direction. The training center is like a resort set in the woods, with a campus of buildings set so carefully among the trees that it doesn’t at all feel like a campus. I follow a sign that says “Pedestrians” headed in the same direction as the headquarters figuring it will be safer since there is little light and I am dressed in all black. The path is blocked by a large tree that must have fallen during Irene’s passage, but I move a small branch out of the way and am then able to climb between the larger branches to continue on my way. As I walk down steps, I look up and see tennis courts. Even better, I see two does and a fawn munching on dew-covered grass.

The fawn nervously raises his head and flicks his tail. I stop and stand still while his mom sniffs the air and flicks her tail once, then twice. They move a few steps further from me, but then resume eating. I take a few steps forward and they both raise their heads once more. I sit down on the steps and they start eating again. Eventually, the mother and fawn work their way into the woods and the lone doe looks up at me. She has moved closer to me, looking directly at me, raising her head and snorting like she can’t decide if she wants to come closer or not. But she does. She walks straight at me, growing more nervous with each step if her flicking tail is an accurate indicator. Suddenly, she jumps straight into the air and lunges sideways upon landing as if she’s just seen a pack of wolves. I turn to look at what could possibly have startled her since I hadn’t moved and see only the mother and fawn going up the hill in the background. I chuckle to myself that she is as easily startled by her friends as I often am.

With the deer off in the woods, I have no excuse to keep sitting there, so I continue my walk. The path around the tennis courts doesn’t take me to the headquarters building. I wind my way around back to the parking lot and out to the public road that brought me to the training center. It’s a narrow lane lined with trees. On both sides, there are nothing but woods. I cannot imagine the worldwide headquarters of a huge corporation hiding in these woods and find myself thinking I’ve misunderstood somehow. My attention is drawn back to the setting when I spot a group of 5 more deer foraging in the woods across the street. I realize I am back to the main entrance to the training center and decide to turn up the drive since I clearly am not going to find headquarters this way. Two more deer pop their heads up as I walk by.

The birds are starting to sing and the light is getting steadily brighter. I almost give up on my quest, but I decide to try following the signs once more–this time I decide to stay on the road instead of taking the pedestrian path. I pass another mother and fawn on a grassy hillside as I follow the road back into what seems like only more woods. But eventually, there is a shiny structure peeping from behind a clump of trees. It is far too small to be an office building, but as I make my way through tree-lined parking lots, I realize I am approaching the building from one end. It is so inconspicuously tucked into the trees that even when I see the building from the front, I cannot believe that it’s headquarters. The building is a modern work of steel and glass, gleaming against the dark evergreens. But instead of looking plopped down in the middle of no where like so many corporate monstrosities, this building looks like it grew there. I look around at the beautiful green space that seems to go on for miles surrounding this building and discover a sense of growing pride that I work for this company.

This is not the first time I felt this. Just a couple months ago, my company encouraged all of us to spend a paid work day doing community service in honor of the company’s birthday. As a result, we collectively contributed millions of work hours to communities worldwide in a single day. I’ve never heard of a company doing that before–at least not to that scale. It’s an amazing way to celebrate a birthday.  The commitment to comunity service doesn’t end with anniversaries, either.  My company has an ongoing program to track hours and provide grant money to the causes we participate in as well as providing payroll deduction services for contributions to small, local charities as well as big ones.  It means a lot to me that the company puts its money where its mouth is rather than just asking us to all contribute to the United Way every year.

But now, I am worried that I will be late to class. I tuck away my growing pride and head back to my room to get cleaned up. Along the way, I count the deer and keep smiling to myself that this property is preserved by my company.

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