Dream of:18 March 1996 "Mr. Aviator"
I had gone to visit my father's office on the first floor of the Gay Street House. Once I was inside the house, however, it only resembled in the vaguest way the interior of the Gay Street House. The large bay window was still in the main room on the first floor, but everything else was different. The room in which I found myself was gigantic, stretching out of sight in all directions. Dozens and dozens of people were either sitting at desks or walking around everywhere I looked.
My father was a lawyer and this was his law office. The office seemed too large for a law office, however, and I thought my father might also be in the insurance business. I knew he worked for himself as a sole practitioner and he didn't have any partners. My mother did work for him as the office manager, however, and she was the one charged with actually making the office run. Seeing her sitting at a desk in front of the bay window, I headed for her.
No sooner had I reached her than I was handed the receiver of a phone and told that I had a call. I took the phone, began talking, and soon realized a man whom I had once represented as his lawyer was on the other end. I recalled that I had filed bankruptcy for the man and his wife, but that their case had been dismissed some time ago.
The man now wanted to know if it were possible for him to file bankruptcy again. I hated these kinds of calls. I had quit accepting new legal clients and these calls from old clients were just a waste of my time. I felt like just telling him I couldn't help him and hanging up, but instead, I began slowly and politely explaining his options for filing a new bankruptcy case.
He also wanted to know how much filing a new bankruptcy would cost. He said he had been told that if he filed an affidavit saying he didn't have any money, he could file the bankruptcy for only $10. I told him I had heard of such affidavits, although I had never used one because my clients had always had the money to pay the full filing fees.
As I continued the conversation, I was having some trouble hearing the man because of all the din from people working in the room. Looking around the room for another phone, I noticed something strange about the phone which I was using: it was connected to a modular outlet in the ceiling instead of into the wall. The line from the outlet ran straight to the receiver which I was holding in my hand, and I saw no place to hang up the receiver.
I did see a small room over to the side with a phone in it. I told the man on the phone to wait a minute, and I just left the phone hanging in the air as I walked over to the other phone.
As soon as I began talking with the man again on the other phone, he thanked me for the information which I had given him. I took this as a cue that I could hang up and I said good-bye. As I started to put the phone down, however, I could still hear him talking, and as much as I wanted to hang up, I again put the phone to my ear and listened to what he had to say. When he had finished, I again said good-bye, and before he said anything else, I hung up.
I walked back out into the main room, intending to now hang up the phone which I had left dangling in the air, wondering exactly how I would do that. To my surprise, however, when I reached the spot where the phone had been, it was no longer there and the modular outlet in the ceiling was empty.
I walked over to my mother's desk. Only about 40 years old, she was thin but seemed quite vigorous. Although I recognized her as my mother, she only vaguely resembled my mother. I quickly told her that something had happened to the telephone and that I still needed to hang it up. She seemed to know where the phone was. She stood up and began leading me through the office.
As I walked along with her, with my eyes I took in the surroundings. The office, bustling with activity, seemed like something out of the 1930s. The color of brown wood surrounded me from the many desks and the paneling on the walls.
I realized I had only seldom visited this office, and that I hadn't really been aware of what an important position my mother had here, having to manage so many people. Maybe spending a day here would be interesting to see exactly what she did.
I also reflected that probably nobody there knew that I was the son of the boss. My special relationship with the boss made me feel quite comfortable as I walked through the office. Plus I felt I was dressed for the role – casual but tasteful. I wondered what people would think of me if they knew who I was. They would probably think I just led a life of leisure without having to work in an office such as this. I thought to myself such an assumption would be basically correct, and that I had no intention of working again in an office, even if I could work in a position of authority, such as in this office with my father. I was quite satisfied with my present life.
My mother found the person whom she had been seeking, the person with the phone. Standing before us was a small gray-haired woman (probably in her late 50s), who also seemed to be dressed in clothes out of the 1930s. She quickly admitted that she had taken the phone and I asked her why. The woman explained that she had been sitting near the phone and had become disconcerted with its just hanging there. She said she finally became so nervous that she couldn't stand to look at the phone any more and had simply pulled it down.
I retorted that I had only been gone from the phone for five minutes. At first I was going to say I had only been gone two or three minutes, but then I thought I needed to be accurate and I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I complained that I didn't understand how she could have been bothered by the phone in such a short period of time. I also complained that I was now going to have great difficulties in putting the line back into the outlet. To myself I thought that my troubles weren't actually increased much, because I would have had to have figured a way to hang the phone up on the ceiling anyway, but I didn't tell the woman that.
There was nothing else to say to the woman. She didn't seem to comprehend that she had done anything wrong, and I didn't feel like spending any more time trying to convince her of that.
As I turned from her to walk away, I almost ran into a short thin man (about 60 years old). I quickly saw that he wasn't a worker in the office, but that he must be one of my father's clients. I looked at him and said, "Can I help you?"
I noticed I had said "can," and that it would have been more proper to say "may." With a scowl on his face the man turned from me and walked away. Seeing the angry look on the man's face, I realized I must have inadvertently stepped in front of him.
In the confusion I became separated from my mother. Deciding it was time for me to leave, I headed toward what I thought would be the exit. As I proceeded through the desks and file cabinets, I at times had to squeeze through tight places with barely enough room for me to pass.
As I was squeezing through one such spot, I saw that on one side of me was a railing about waist high with a man sitting at a desk just on the other side of it. I recognized the man as someone with whom I was acquainted and I stopped for a moment to talk with him. I quickly realized he was working in another law office which was in the same large room as my father's law office, but which was separated from my father's law office. The man himself wasn't a lawyer, but back beyond him I could see several of the firm's lawyers talking with each other. Although his law firm had quite a few lawyers, the area his firm occupied was much smaller than my father's and had fewer people working in it.
I thought one of my old law school classmates, Blackstock, worked in the neighboring law firm. I asked the fellow about who worked there and he mentioned the name of one of the lawyers. I couldn't quite understand the name, which sounded something like "Atiator" or "Avatar." Finally I concluded the lawyer's name was "Mr. Aviator."
I wondered if the fellow knew my father occupied the neighboring law office. I thought to myself that I was proud of my father that he could single-handedly run such a large law office. I also thought how satisfying it was to know that I could at any time work with my father. It was a secure feeling. Although I didn't intend to work in the office, knowing I could if I wanted to pleased me. Obviously my father could use my help. In fact I wondered how he kept track of everything by himself. I hoped he wasn't neglecting some of his business because he was overwhelmed by so much.
I was still uncertain that the fellow with whom I was talking knew who I was. So I began asking him questions about the neighboring law office (my father's), hoping he would finally realize who I was. I asked him for instance where his law office ended and the other law office began. I even squeezed out of the tight place where I was and walked farther into my father's office to try to determine the line of demarcation between the two offices.
When I walked back to the railing to look for the man, however, he had disappeared. Instead, a younger fellow had taken his place. I felt embarrassed because I had seen this younger fellow before at different places, but I had never spoken to him. Now I was in a situation where I felt compelled to say hello. When I did, he paid me scant attention, and I was unsure he even heard me. Realizing it was best for me to leave, as I turned to go, I looked back at the fellow and said, "Good-bye."
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