Offing the Dream Machine

By Timothy O’Neal

Offing the dream machine

Drawing by Lemya Aldouri

Years in the restaurant industry have spawned quite a few related dreams – literally. Typical is the dream that sees me scurrying around a dining room floor totally unable to keep up. It happens all the time, reminding me that a sense of urgency – a necessary trait for all good restaurant employees – is still with me. Thankfully, I always seem to wake up before those irritated guests transition the anxiety dream into a full fledged nightmare. Last night’s dream, though it didn’t actually take place in a restaurant, is one for the intensity books.

Knowing that foot traffic wakes me up from incessant pacing from the apartment above, a friend gave me one of those anti-noise machines. You know, the type that softly puts out nature noises like sounds from a stream or crickets chirping in the forest. Getting ready for bed, I decide to listen to the ocean waves. Lying there, I’m shaking my head in disbelief that I, or anyone else, would actually fall asleep to this.

And suddenly I find myself a passenger on a commercial jet plane getting ready for take-off. As the engines rev-up and we start down the runway, the distance from my seat to the ground didn’t seem far. So, I answer a bizarre unexplainable urge to exit the plane by opening the latched emergency door, jumping out on to the runway and do a double summersault to the grass.

Well, I must have weighed many thousands of pounds because after exiting, the nose of the aircraft turned straight up. The plane climbed for a few hundred feet, leveled out, and dropped like a lead pancake landing with a considerable thud. Suddenly, all the passengers – who are all regular dining guests from various restaurants I’ve worked at over the years – are looking out the windows. And they are not happy; for, they were being held up by me! A moment later, my boss appeared in the emergency exit doorway. And he’s disapprovingly shaking his head.

Back on the aircraft I’m trying to inform everyone that there is a problem with the jet. Arguing with the guy sitting next to me, I say, “Dude, I weigh 170 pounds, not 17,000. Did you not see what happened when I jumped off? There is something way wrong with this aircraft!”

As we take off again, the mountains in front of us are getting closer. And although we are headed up, the top of the precipice cannot be seen. Up and up we go, only feet from scraping jettison rocks. At a protracted eighty degrees, we slow and come to a halt. Unbelievably, we are teetering on the very tip top of the mountain!

A second urge to get the heck off this airship has me sprinting down the aisle and diving out the door. Looking at the plane from afar, the sounds of the ocean are getting louder even though there is no ocean anywhere to be seen. The waves get loud enough for me to turn over, reach my arm out and smack the noise making machine. Crickets start chirping so I whap it again.

Then, I manage to hit the button that makes the most sense for four-thirty in the morning – the off button.


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