I have a recurring dream. In it, I awake on the day of final exams. It’s noon. The tests took place in the morning, so I arrive to the Young Human Factory just in time for my boss to fire me. Or a grade-school teacher to scold me. Or an empty-eyed stranger (never seen outside nightmares) to swivel his ghastly grinning face towards me.
Today I woke to a ringing phone. I had two simultaneous thoughts, “It’s light outside!” and “Why am I so cold?” My brain promptly sent out a memo:
Attention: All shareholders.
re: Sun up. No heat.
While we were sleeping, the electricity failed. Due to this unforeseen circumstance, production of Zzzzz increased to weekend levels.
Initiate panic protocol.
I don’t recall whether I said “hello” or just “Oh, no!” I do remember asking the time.
“It’s almost eIght o’clock,” said the secretary.
My colleague worried when I hadn’t arrived by starting time. She tried unsuccessfully to reach me on my cellphone (which was dead). Then she contacted the office to see if I’d called in sick.**
I raced to get ready. I was glad I’d set out my clothes the night before; the indoor temperature was 60 degrees and falling. I arrived half-awake 15 minutes later during the tail end of my preparation period.
I felt embarrassed and nervous. (My brain reminded me repeatedly that layoffs come in April.) Lucky for me, my boss laughed it off. He didn’t dock me, saying he knows my habit of arriving early and staying late.
**I was happy to learn that if I hadn’t picked up the phone, the secretary would have called my emergency contact (also known as my next-of-kin). It was comforting to think if I fell down the steps, I wouldn’t be lying in a snow bank until spring. Then I thought about waking up to find one of my brothers looming over me, having driven for hours only to learn I’d overslept….
Oh, there’s new nightmare material right there! I should send my brain a memo.