Disquieting dreams

As I was having lunch today, I was struck by a fleeting thought, so cursory that I couldn’t pin it down. It sparked a chain of memories, reminding me of a dream I had last night. These are indeed productive nights for my overwrought brain as I am haunted by disquieting thoughts about the situation at work.

Both my dreams were nightmarish. This first one followed my listening of a Broadcasting House programme a week ago that presented a fictional story in which an imaginary country, tellingly named Greetaly, decided to leave the euro to revert to its original currency. The sensational measure was taken in order to regain the freedom of setting a monetary policy independently, the lack of which is costing so much to some European countries.

The radio reconstruction was vivid, dramatic in fact, and was recounted in step-by-step chronicler’s style. The sequence of events unfolded over the course of a crucial weekend when the Government made the ominous decision to leave the euro, but didn’t announce it till after the closure of the markets to curb any speculatory manoeuvres. In order to dramatise the effect on everyday man’s life, the fiction then spanned the subsequent weeks and months during which disastrous consequences made themselves felt by the vast majority of people.

In my dream I lived a similar situation first-hand. I don’t have many details present anymore, but I do remember seeing the rate of exchange of the new currency to the euro sink to (sic) 1.27. Being a higher rate against the euro, the figure was grossly inconsistent; however, immediately I saw it on the board, my heart plunged into an abyss of uneasiness, my certainties crumbled, my security vanished into thin air. I was faced with the sure prospect of losing my standard of living and especially my freedom of movement.

The superficial reading of this dream points back to the topical bad news from the financial markets, but in reality the underlying reason is indeed a personal problem, as was made clear by my second dream that overtly reflected my present situation at work.

But first, a few words to explain the context. Following an internal organisation that can only be labelled as administratively irresponsible – especially at a time when the public sector should cut down on waste – a few big projects have been outsourced from my work unit. The decision is a political move leading to a different share of power between the Chamber of commerce and its spin-off and a way to manage more freely the funds earmarked to be handed out to companies.

The fact remains that my unit, that carried out the work efficiently at no extra cost, is staffed just as before, but with foreseeably less work, while the Chamber of commerce will have to pay for the outsourcing operation. My co-workers, who are likely to be most affected by the change, haven’t found themselves twiddling their thumbs yet, but I fear the moment may come. Then I’d be faced with the troublesome obligation to report the fact, seeing that the management has not thought it fit to address the problem yet. Actually, when I found out about the decision, my perplexities were even dismissed perfunctorily.

I don’t think any of my colleagues has ever declared overstaffing, it’s not in the public sector mentality. It’s not an easy step to take for a series of reasons. I’ve been mulling this over for weeks and the idea is haunting my mind.

My dream was just about this. I had made up my mind to report the issue and I was discussing it with my boss and another manager. The solution they proposed was disarming: the big guy drew a chart on a piece of paper with boxes standing for the different staffs. Then he drew lines that represented a network of interactions between the individuals. By working on these relationships, he said, we would have enough to keep us busy.

In practice, I was asked to generate unproductive self-referential work (which we already do loads of) and this disappointed me terribly. But when I awoke, I realised how realistic my dream had been, and ironic too, since it interpreted the mentality of the system so well.

I don’t believe in premonitory dreams, but at least I realised they can have a good sense of humour. After many weeks of worry, I had a chance to smile.