The other night I had a very vivid dream:
I was a new hire at a hash-slinging greasy spoon breakfast joint. I reported for my first day already into the morning shift and was helping out with some other task (rolling silverware in napkins, maybe?) when they suddenly got slammed and I was sent to a full table that had already been sitting for a while.
I dashed to the waitress station, checked that I had a pen in my apron, and fumbled through the box of half-used order pads to scribble customer's choices on. The order pad I chose had an unusual message on the top: "a feminist works here" was emblazoned in redish pink across the top of every sheet. That's fitting, I thought and headed over to the 10-top, complete with several kids.
The family I was waiting on was perfectly nice despite the fact that they'd been sitting there for a while and had kids... but I found myself floundering because I couldn't give recommendations or answer their questions adequately. I need to be sure to take a menu home and study it tonight, I thought. I wanted to be able to do my job well and felt frustrated I hadn't been better trained, and frustrated too, that my poor performance might reflect negatively on me (not my fault!) and the restaurant that hired me. It was nobody's fault, really, but the situation was not one that lent itself to a satisfying experience for anyone. I kept a smile on my face, and just adopted a "get-'er-done" kind of attitude. Why am I working here? I asked myself.
When recalling the dream the next day, I had to wonder what it all meant, so did a little perusing of my favorite dream-sleuthing site. And here's what it had to say:
Waiter To dream that you are a waiter or waitress indicates that you are too busy catering to the needs and demands of others, instead of your own. You feel that you are underappreciated as you wait on others hand and foot. You need to be more assertive and stand up for yourself. Consider the quality of service that you are giving for additional significance.
Oh, that made a lot of sense considering some of my current involvements (other than being a mom). The "quality of service" part is what really struck me. And it also made the choice of my order pad all the more metaphorically loaded. I knew in the dream, like I know in my waking life, that I need to stand up for myself -- that's the essence of being a woman-feminist. So why aren't I doing it? Why do I persist in sublimating what I want?
I just couldn't get that order pad out of my head. It's a powerful image for me anymore. But it doesn't exist anywhere -- so I had to do my best to recreate it.
Thanks to Brad Thomas, who let me use an image from his very cool steampunk etsy shop, I was able to at least recreate a digital version.
It haunts me just a little, the implicit irony.