I guess my current part-time employment situation is causing me a bit more anxiety than I realized. Oh sure, the signs of instability have been present for awhile, like my compulsion to apply for a dozen full-time jobs a week regardless of whether I’m even remotely qualified or interested in any of them.
Still, I didn’t quite realize how all-encompassing my anxiety had become until my underutilized and undercompensated predicament invaded my dreamspace. The other night, I had quite a shitty (more on that word in a bit) dream that brought my circumstances into focus. It was absurd, like many of my dreams, but not so absurd that it couldn’t actually happen.
I dreamt that I took a job that required me to move to a desolate part of Pennsylvania where winters are particularly cold and bleak. Nevertheless, faced with what I viewed as even bleaker employment prospects if I were to turn down the offer, I packed my bags and moved north with high hopes for a bright future borne of quite a few interview promises.
I walked in on my first day and the receptionist led me to my desk, a tiny little table in the center of a big room surrounded by a bunch of other tiny little tables. It seemed like all the phones were ringing at once and everyone was trying to talk over everyone else. Picture a Wall Street bullpen.
Who knows why I hadn’t seen this setup when I interviewed. Are dreams ever very logical?
“Whatever,” I muttered to myself. “It’s a good opportunity, and you’ll get used to it.”
I don’t remember much about my day other than this feeling that it was hectic but that I’d slogged through it. I managed, but it wasn’t great.
Maybe “all in” would have been a stretch, so we’ll call dream me “sort of in for now.” I figured I’d at least show up again the next day and see if things improved a bit.
About this time, the remainder of my day really unraveled.
An attractive woman walked toward me. She was tall and thin and well dressed and rather intimidating to a stocky hobbit whose shirt comes untucked for no reason every ten minutes, showing the rumpled mess of wrinkles the bottom has become from jamming it in his pants fifty times a day.
“Well, I guess it’s your turn to clean the toilet,” she announced.
“You clogged it up, and you’ll have to unclog it before we leave. Don’t worry; happens all the time around here.”
Despite her nonchalance, I was mortified. Did I really do this? Sweat beads were forming on my forehead and I couldn’t even remember. If I did, how did she know it was me? Was she watching on some hidden camera?
She took me by the hand like a mother would a misbehaving child, led me toward a row of twenty or more toilets, and pointed to the plunger. More questions formed in my dreaming mind. Why so many toilets? What fibrous concoction were they feeding us at this place?
Dazed, I obediently grasped the plunger and began sloshing it around in the bowl of poop water. What else could I do?
She said I made this mess and that we weren’t going home until I fixed it, so I attacked my task vigorously, hoping some of the dirty water would splash out of the bowl and onto her picture perfect dress. Alas, I’ll never know if it did.
The assault on my senses — the hideous gurgling noise, the putrid stench, the pretty woman hovering over me to be sure I finished the job — was all too much and I thrashed awake. I laid there, coated in a cold, clammy sweat but grateful for the tranquility of my bed and thought to myself, “Maybe my current hodge podge of part-time employment really isn’t so bad after all.”