Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Universal Dream

I had another moment in a team meeting on Friday. Monday is the Memorial Day holiday here in America, when we take the opportunity to honor and remember war dead. It's also become the unofficial start of the summer season.

Lots of people were off from work today. Some used vacation time to extend a three-day weekend into a mini-vacation of four days. State workers in Connecticut were forced to take an unpaid furlough day because of budget deficits. I take a bus to work in the morning now. There are usually 20-25 people getting on at my stop at 6:13 AM; today the count was in single digits.

Our weekly team meeting is on Friday afternoons at 2:30 PM. I arrived a few minutes late, anticipating verbal abuse from my boss for failing to be punctual. Instead, there were only two of my co-workers sitting at the table. One of them was my age; the other was not yet thirty, with college memories still close at hand.

After smiles and chit-chat subsided, the younger co-worked asked me "Have you ever had this dream?" I was able to give an affirmative answer before he finished his first sentence. It used to be a common dream for me. It goes something like this:

I'm back at college; it's the end of another semester. I'm wandering the campus, usually on the mall in front of the student union in Storrs, trying to find a final exam for a class that I vaguely remember signing up for, never attended, in a unknown room, at an unknown time. I know full well that I'm unprepared. The outcome will be an abysmal, humiliating failure. At its worst, I compound my problems by being naked while everyone around me is fully dressed. I wake up in an agitated frame of mind, without having found the room.

Both of my co-workers have had similar dreams. It usually comes back during times of stress or deadline, like the release of new software.

I haven't had that dream in a long time. It used to be a regular feature of my life, because I went to school for such a long time.

It was interesting to learn again how similar our experiences are.

We waited for fifteen minutes, continuing our conversation, but no one else arrived. Everyone else must have extended the holiday weekend. The three of us slipped back to our isolated cubicles, having learned about another tie that bound us together.

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