Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time for the Birds

This morning as I set out for one of our departments -- I don't even remember what "mission" I was on -- my forward march was halted by the sight of one of the assistant managers, standing by one of the windows that look out onto our atrium.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Look," he said, pointing to a tiny, newly hatched bird, probably a swallow although I am not good at bird identification. "It hatched a few days ago. The mother built a nest in one of the big potted plants in the atrium."

The little bird had hopped up onto the rim of the tall pot. Then, it spread its wings, ascended upward away from us, and bee-lined straight into the opposite window. Stunned, it fell to the ground, then shook its head and wings, and hopped up onto the ledge, sitting there for some time, seeming to try to get its bearings.

"Do you think it is all right?" I asked.

"I think so," he replied. "The parent birds are over in that other corner, scratching for food. I imagine they will see the little one and help, but we had better wait, just in case."

So, we waited. Every ten seconds or so, someone walked past, stopped, and joined us in watching. Soon, we had a small crowd, cheering the little bird on.

There was a feeling of comradeship in that gathering crowd. There was also a sense of time standing still. Work stopped. People talked to each other about the birds, not about missions and messages, not about stress and due-outs, not about quotas and time constraints, but about the baby bird.

Sometimes my work can get quite intense. We support missions in far places, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. We have to be in communication and support our offices in multiple states and countries. Some of the work we do requires traveling extensively. Other times it requires working on weekends and always at least part of the evening. My incoming email can exceed 1000 enotes at any given time; I left work today with 974 unanswered notes that I will have to stay late to answer tomorrow and the next several work days. They are routine requests and requirements that had to take second place to urgent requests for specific kinds of support from the team that we just sent to a war zone. Yes, indeed, work can get quite intense.

Today, however, work stopped. Nothing mattered for a few minutes except one new life, that of a tiny bird. Thank you, little bird, for joining our team.

Some days I really love my job!

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