Dream of: 25 March 1995 "Sending Vacuums To Libya"

I was running along a dark street at night, trying to return to the place where I was living. I was afraid that when I arrived, I would find my home destroyed by the great disaster which had struck this city and which had wiped out so many homes. I might not even have a bed to sleep on. However, since so many people had been killed, I might be able to break into an empty house and either stay there, or carry off a mattress from it.

As I ran, I tried to spot some houses which I might be able to break into. I would still have to be careful, because not all the houses had been abandoned, and many still had operable alarm systems. I would have to pick the proper house. Other people would be doing the same thing, and I imagined what it would be like if everyone broke into houses at the same time: the sound of breaking glass would be heard throughout the city.

As I kept trying to spot a house, I realized it was so dark I couldn't distinguish anything. But suddenly I passed into a section where the street lit up. Looking back, I realized I had been running between large, tall buildings which had blocked out all light. Although I was now in a more natural setting, I had a more serious problem: I was in a black, ghetto area.

Since it was still dark, I hoped I would be able to pass through without being seen; I tried to pick up my pace. But slowly I began losing steam, and finally I could barely run at all. About the same time I realized two fellows probably in their late teens were following me not far behind and that they were gaining ground. I pulled a black leather wallet from my back pocket and stuck it down the front of my pants inside my underwear.

By now I was so tired I could hardly even walk. The two fellows, who seemed Hispanic, were right behind me. They had a dog and one of the fellows hollered out that the dog wouldn't bother me if I would put my shirt tail back in. Indeed the shirt tail of the brown cotton shirt I was wearing was out; I tucked it back in. When I finished, the two fellows were right next to me, clearly threatening me.

I was in a dangerous situation – my only chance was to find someone to help me. Since we were standing right next to a busy street, I stepped out into it, intending to force a car to stop. I was also somehow able to force the two men into the street, as if I had some kind of weapon.

A car stopped in front of us, just as if it were stopping at a traffic light. I hollered out that these men were trying to kill me, and that I needed help. The car was completely full with three men in front and three men in the back. All the men in the car indicated that I should get out of the way so the car could pass. But finally the driver relented and stepped out of the car.

He immediately took charge of the situation, as if he were some kind of authority. He led the two Hispanic men and me to the back of the car, which had a long flat trailer attached to it. Sitting on the trailer where rows of people, as would be sitting on a bus, except they were sitting in the open air. Only three seats remained. The driver put the two Hispanics in two of the seats, and showed me another one. The driver returned to the car and we took off.

I was extremely relived. I looked around at the other people, who seemed a friendly lot, and asked them if anything was new. I was referring to the disaster that had struck. I hadn't talked with anyone about the disaster for almost a day, and I didn't know what was going on with it. One fat fellow who seemed somewhat like Moon (a Dallas attorney) and somewhat like one of my bankruptcy clients, told me he had been given the job of taking care of babies – babies which apparently had been separated from their parents.

***

I had arrived at a clean but cluttered room where perhaps 20 people were working; some sitting and some walking about. I realized that this was one of the back offices at the Neiman Marcus department store, and that although I hadn't come for that reason, I thought I might be able to obtain a job here. A man (probably in his late 20s) seemed to be the boss (I myself seemed to be about 20 years old). The boss began talking with me and asked how much I thought I should be paid for working here. I said six or seven dollars an hour. He seemed satisfied, and I realized I had been hired.

He gave me a piece of paper with some writing and lines on it, and told me to go to work. I sat down and looked at the paper, but I couldn't understand it. Finally I moved over by man who looked a bit like both Gene Siskel and David Gergen. He also looked at the paper, and although he didn't help much, I was finally able to understand what the paper said.

Across the top of the paper were numbers. Lines went from the numbers to a map with names of countries. I specifically saw the name Libya. Up in the upper right hand corner was a picture of a vacuum cleaner. The paper was a chart to show that certain vacuum cleaners were to be shipped to each country listed on the paper. I thought it actually boiled down to three vacuum cleaners per country.

After I had analyzed the paper, I stood back up and told the boss I had had trouble understanding the paper, but that I had figured it out. I quickly changed the "I" to "we", so that the other fellow who had helped me would also receive credit (although I thought to myself that he really hadn't helped). The boss seemed to realize he hadn't given me adequate training, and that I had done well to have figured out the paper for myself.

Next, I would need to take the paper to another man in charge of shipping. I walked over to the man, sat next to him, and explained what was needed. He seemed a bit puzzled, as if he had a question. I told him if he had a question, he needed to bring it to me, and not to the boss, because the boss wanted me to handle these matters without having to have the boss get involved.

I stood back up, thinking I was beginning to understand the job. But I still thought it strange that Neiman Marcus was sending vacuum cleaners all over the world. Neiman Marcus goods were very expensive; the vacuum cleaners would be exorbitant. Supplying the vacuums must be some kind of promotion. Probably only a few wealthy people would buy the vacuum cleaners.

Another man approached me and said I would have to fill out some papers concerning my wages. When he walked away, I realized I wasn't even sure how much I would be earning. I would have to ask the boss, even though the idea of asking him made me uncomfortable. I should have asked for higher wages. After all, six dollars was barely above the minimum wage. But actually I didn't care that much how much I was earning. I was happy to just have a job. I knew I was in Portsmouth and that I had only been here a few days. I had been on my way to the Gay Street House when I had happened into Neiman Marcus. I could work for my father if I wanted to, and I had just decided to work here on a lark. How surprised my father would be to find out that I had found a job and where I was working.

I was rather pleased with myself: in a very few days my superiors would realize my potential and elevate me in position. That had always been the pattern of any jobs I had had in the past. My superiors wouldn't want to let me go.

An attractive woman stepped up and asked me how I liked my job. I told her I didn't understand much yet (although to myself I thought I indeed did understand a lot, and would fully master the job by the end of the day). I told her the job seemed more like playing than working. And actually I did enjoy the work, even though I didn't find it challenging.

As I walked over to a water cooler, a young fellow in a white shirt crowded ahead of me. I thought to myself how impolite he was, and how his impoliteness would deter him from advancing in position in the office. For myself, I didn't want to be seen by the boss wasting time at the water cooler on my first day of work. I would take a quick drink and return to work.

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