Long-time readers know that when younger, I was employed at a pizza place for nine and a half years. You also probably know that I've often and quite regularly dreamt I was back working there. Well, the dreams persist, but lately, they've taken a turn for the strange.
For years, the dreams shared a common narrative structure. I was sent to a store that had severe problems, and once there, I turned out a heroic figure, helping them overcome inordinately large difficulties. This was how it was when I did in fact work there (I was "the fixer"), but of course, my dream versions were slightly overblown and fantastic in the way only dreams can be. Stupidly large stores, zombie-like customers, unbelievable tsunamis of orders? I have defeated them all.
When I was at the worst stage of my mental breakdown, the dreams took on a similarly sinister, apocalyptic bent. The obstacles started to border on the insurmountable territory. I quit being able to stem the overwhelming tide of orders, of difficulties. The parallels were obvious, but still, I couldn't help but be struck by the extent that my high school job had become the central setting for my life in microcosm.
Over the last year or so, the dreams started to fade in frequency, and I thought maybe my subconscious had moved on from my early employment. I even started to dream of teaching, something which until that point had yet to happen....which was itself interesting, seeing as by that time, I had been teaching even longer than I had flipped pies. Yet during the last month or so, the pizza dreams slowly started to reclaim their position as the dominant topic within my slumbers.
These dream versions of course sport their own organizing principles. The stores to which I am sent no longer even vaguely resemble those of my youth. Rather, they sport gourmet ingredients such as quail eggs and prosciutto. New menu items include stromboli and exotic soups. That kind of stuff. And rather than entering the store as some pizza-eyed savior, I find myself in stores that are running just fine for what they are, and I find myself with few relevant skills to contribute. So I tend to seem inessential and then leave early, to do naught else but wander around a hyper-dream version of my hometown.
Last night, I started at a freshly opened combination pizza place/upper end fine dining establishment/working class tavern. Even within those parameters, though, the place just didn't make any sense. We had no posted hours or schedule. We had twice the number of employees as we required, and no one had assigned them to any specific schedule or duties. The back of the restaurant was three times larger than the dining room yet even more out of proportion to what was needed.
I wandered around the back for a while, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do yet failing to find any insights. I then went up to the manager, who listened to my concerns before sending me on a deep sea mission of some sort. I completed my task and returned to the restaurant only to discover the manager was some Christ-like demigod who claimed we were engaged in an epic struggle with evil and chaos, because of which the fate of the souls of all humanity hung in the balance.
For whatever reason, this revelation did not surprise me in the least. But when I asked the manager/deity a basic theological question, it became clear He was merely making it up as he went along. So I handed him my uniform before leaving the restaurant and walking into the hyper-dream snowy town in which I live, resolved to figure out the ultimate truths on my own.
The metaphor will work itself out eventually, right?