Work dreams aren’t the norm except for when they are and when they are they’re not welcome.  As with most things this is not always true, as my rare jaunts into the early nineties where I’m surrounded by the constant buzzing of McDonald’s fryers and I’m smiling because, despite only taking up a year of my life, there was something simple and happy about it compared to the 9 to 5 salaried job.  It could be hard work, but it was straight forward, and I never left the office feeling as if I hadn’t accomplished something, even if only to satiate people’s hunger.

I wish I had those dreams more often.

These dreams come like a hundred ghosts, the echoes of past colleagues in the ever morphing industry that is software.  I can never remember their names–something not altogether unusual given my life-long habit of forgetting the trivial (more on that another time)–but I remember their faces, their personas, what they mean(t) to me.  And always in these dreams they come and go like leaves floating on a stream, and always they’re smarter, more confident, and constant in their employment, and there I am fighting away waves of Impostor Syndrome, waiting to be pushed, forced, shoved into a brightly lit HR office only to be told that will be enough, no matter how hard I work, no matter how long I work, no matter how little I work for, that I, yes, you, are inherently redundant.

Yet somehow in these dreams I manage to evade the white room only to find my cubicle has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller, until it is so small I can barely set a laptop on it without my elbows crashing loudly into the guy to my right and the girl to my left and I have to be quieter or they’ll hear me and I’ll be found out.  This morning it was just one desk after another, so reminiscent of my six month contract at Columbia where one long flat surface constituted a desk where a dozen other contractors and myself were squeezed in like chickens at a modern egg ranch.  Worse, an alarm went off and we all had to leave and they’re all acting nonchalantly but I’ve left my bag on my desk but my desk has been moved again or has shrunken into oblivion and I remember my .380 is in the secret compartment and it’s against company policy to bear arms and they’ll find it and they’ll find it and then I’m on a school bus naked and it’s the only way I could get out but I never wanted to get out because staying in is the only way to survive.

And then I’m awake and the smell of the dream doesn’t ever quite leave my nostrils.


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