Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anxiety Dreams

I wish I could draw, as I'd draw this one out. I tried to do some stick figures, but it turns out that's not even in my wheelhouse. Oh well. I'll leave that type of blogging to this wonderful gal.

Anyway, here we go. So the other night, we went to this restaurant. Little tiny place, West African cuisine. One dude working. When we walked in, it was just us (Amy, Miles, Lila, yours truly). Over the next 100 minutes until we left, a fairly steady stream of folks came through. The poor guy working was way over his head - I got the feeling he wasn't normally a cook, because cooking our meal (2 apps and 3 entrees) took 70 of those 100 minutes. At the end, he came to apologize and explain that they were short handed that night. When I told him I had worked in restaurants, you could literally see the stress fall off his shoulders.

And I got to thinking - this was like a real, live server anxiety dream.

This guy is about to realize that he has 27 new tables
When I worked in service, anxiety dreams were at least a weekly occurrence. The details varied, but the scene was always the same. Tons of people sitting in my section/at my bar, and something complicating. Sometimes I'd have the classic no-pants realization. Others, the section grew every time I turned around. Maybe people all sat at once, or maybe a flow that just didn't stop. Or I was out of ketchup and every table wanted it. Or a combination of all of those. These are common to every server I know.

One stands out from the crowd - the weirdest dream I ever had. It came near the end of my tenure in restaurants. In the dream, I was working a restaurant that was shaped like an old broadway set, with three tiered levels (each about 2 steps higher than the lower, think of like A Chorus Line, or a Rockette's show), and the bar was on the top level. I was working by myself, and no one in the place but me. The bathroom was just an unprotected toilet next to the bar on the top level. I really needed to take a crap. Eventually, I just had to go. As soon as I started, people began coming in, and seating themselves on the lower level. People kept coming, and I apparently had a limitless gut. Something from Norse Myth, or something - the Bung of Plenty, gifted to mighty Thor from the Gnomes of Ygdrhamster or something. So I'm sitting on the top level, in full site of a newly filled restaurant, waving to people and saying, "I'll be right with you," as my gut made constant grumbly noises that showed no sign of slowing or stopping.  And that was how the entire dream went. Dream hours of pooping and waving to people, telling them I'd be right there to take their order.

Needless to say, I woke up scratching my head and wondering if I'd crapped the bed. Thankfully I hadn't.

So yeah, analyze that shit, Sigmund (pun inevitable).

Since leaving restaurants, work anxiety dreams have become almost entirely a thing of the past. Which makes me wonder - Do you have work anxiety dreams? What do they look like? Are they consistent in theme (like the filling/growing restaurant), or do they vary? And why in god's name couldn't that damn toilet at least have had a stall??? ;-)


Anonymous said...


In the moments immediately after waking up from server dreams, I've had to convince myself that everything is okay, that the computer system didn't go haywire, that I didn't have a 20-table section, that I wasn't even at work. There are many horrible things about working in restaurants. Server dreams are at the top of the list.

Anonymous said...

All the time... I still to this day have random college dreams, mostly about just barely being able to graduate because I still have xx many classes left to go. And just feeling devastated that I can't just move on and begin a normal life outside school. I wake up feeling confused and so thankful I am not back in school. And this was 4 years ago :P


Kristen said...

My server-mares almost always involved water. For some reason, my section was always flooded with knee-deep water, and I had to wade through it to get to my section that kept growing exponentially.
The funniest part was that my dreams were always about the place I actually worked, never some made up place. When I was working GB, I dreamed I was at GB, and same with Linda's.
Such a weird phenomena.

Riley said...

My cohorts from the Bay and I call 'em wait-mares. And yes, basically everyone I know from that industry has 'em. It's something to do with the physical and stressful nature of the work, combined with the general lack of processing/downtime between work and sleep (boozing until 5am doesn't actually count). Like Damo, my only other recurring dream is of unfinished school I have to return to, except for me it's high school. Worst. Dreams. Ever.