I had a dream last night.
Now, I am well aware that when people wish to share their fascinating dreams with others, most people's reaction is the same as if they'd said, "Do you mind if I read you some of my original poetry?" But since this is my blog, you're stuck with my dream.
Anyway: In my dream I am having an awful, terrible, no-good, very bad day. Work sucks, for vague but deeply felt reasons. To add insult to injury, on my way down a public stairs I run into an ostensibly homeless young woman lying on an impromptu bed made of some of my clothes; she gives me a heart-rending story about her bad breaks, so I give her money for a meal...but I ask for my clothing back. After I leave, I'm informed by bystanders that she's a professional beggar who's just ripped me off -- and when I look at the clothing I'd retrieved from her, I realize that she kept my good wool blazer. Dang.
Now a chipper, preppy Junior League type is convincing me that I really need to volunteer on a kind of citizen's patrol with the local police; that it's really fun, and you learn a lot about law enforcement, yadda, yadda, yadda. So, being a good do-bee, I find myself behind the wheel of a cop car, with no cop and no instructions, having not a clue what to do next. Everything I do, in fact, is wrong; I can't maneuver, and I press incorrect switches, and soon I'm covered in flop sweat, my heart pounding. I get an angry radio message to drive back to the precinct; I'm so flustered at this point that I can't remember how to respond -- "Ten-four" or "Copy that" or whatever -- but I somehow get the vehicle back to the police department.
There I'm ushered into a staff meeting where the police chief -- a gruff old military type in a brush cut -- proceeds to angrily lambaste the citizen patrol program and everyone in it, saying that it is taking resources away from real police officers and endangering the public. Even as I feel a new sphincter being drilled into my anatomy, I am strangely relieved, because in a way the chief is giving me permission to quit. After the meeting I find him on an Army cot -- perhaps recovering from the rigors of dealing with me -- and I apologize for screwing up. "I really don't want to do this," I confess. "I'm a writer. I can write really well. I don't want to be a cop." The old fellow's expression softens -- just a little -- and he mumbles something like, "Well, then, why don't you do that," and turns away.