Overnight Shift

It was in the middle of the night and I was left alone in this brightly lit corner bedroom that had hardwood floors and yellow walls, badly painted with flecks of yellow paint spattered along the baseboards.  One of the plastic injection mold machines from the factory I used to work at was installed in the room with me, taking up most of its space and continually, constantly pumping out those blue jar lids we used to make.  There was nothing else in the room except for a red striped lumpy mattress flopped down on the floor and a rickety table beside it with an ashtray on it and a couple of paperback books propping up one of its uneven legs.

I was supposed to keep an eye on the machine and sort through the parts as they came down the conveyor, but I just wanted to lie on the bed and read the books and explore all the bundles of clothes and discarded junk and old mementos that were stuffed into the dark recesses of the bedroom’s closet.  But the machine kept seizing up and the parts kept sticking in the mold and I’d miss it because I was busy fooling with something else.  Then the foreman would burst through the bedroom door, grumbling and banging on the machine with a wrench until he got it running again.  I’d have to sit down at the conveyor and make like I was working and stutter out some excuse as to why I didn’t catch the machine when it seized up. He’d just shake his head and go away and the whole farce would repeat itself over and over until this eternal shift was done.


3 thoughts on “Overnight Shift

  1. I meant to comment on this the day I first read it but got pulled away & forgot. This one seems easy to interpret as an unresolved frustration at having to do this kind of job when more time could be spent on those old materials: books & memories

    Today I see on the BBC website an article on the sharing of dreams http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34115092 : “why don't people talk about their dreams [any more]?”


  2. Thank you for that link. I've read through it some, and also bookmarked it for further consumption later. I do feel sometimes like I'm bucking some sort of cultural prejudice that has taken root against the sharing of dreams. It's become one of those pervasive ideas that gets repeated and more deeply ingrained until people just accept it without really questioning it or thinking about it, which can sometimes be the more insidious form of popular opinion. And I think a lot of it may have to do with what the author is saying there. People feel dreams have been demystified and they're so much psychic junk not worth wasting time on. And I do think that's a shame, because I feel like dreams come from the same place that good fiction often does, just in a more raw and shapeless form.

    And in actuality, when I really think about it, I've always been very fascinated by other people's dreams. My wife and my daughter often tell me their dreams, and they're usually interesting and amusing. Growing up, my brother told me about several of his nightmares, and they always freaked me out, and some of my fascination with dreams may even date back to that. My mother used to tell me about dreams she had of being in old houses. I've had many, many enjoyable discussions revolving around dreams.

    When you think about the kind of inane stories that people often tell you about their day to day lives, dreams can actually be the most interesting things they have to share sometimes. But no, apparently, the consensus is that dreams are gibberish and no one wants to hear them, and everyone has accepted that.


  3. You're interpretation is very apt here too. I've recently just started going back to school and taking some online classes, and I think I may have been putting it off and had some resistance to it for the very reasons you said. I had had that same thought about the dream, like this intrusion of work into my personal space (literally even, since I'm taking online classes right here from my home office, a new experience for me and once that's obviously and blatantly analogous to the situation in the dream.)

    So here again that goes to show that something meaningful CAN be communicated from the sharing of a dream.


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