Chain, Chain, Chain
In the dream, I was called to a staff meeting. Hated to go because I imagined there would be announcements about more rules and regulations; changes to benefits, likely reductions in benefits, increased pricing for co-pays, or increased percentages we had to pay for procedures; or extended work hours required in the evening or on the weekend with no additional compensation.
When I got to the conference room, however, everyone I worked with was in a wide circle, and Aretha Franklin was singing the number one hit and Grammy award song “Chain of Fools” in the corner. She was wearing pink bedroom slippers and was dancing like she had in the The Blues Brothers, pointing her finger and demonstrating attitude.
I joined the circle, my hand on the human resources director’s hips, him two feet taller than me, so my arms and hands seemed high, and the president’s secretary behind me, her hands gripping the loops in my Levi’s, waist size 32 then. We were all laughing, smiling, and some were signing with Aretha. Some made faces, stuck out their tongues, kicked out a foot, but it was done in unison, like a well-oiled machine.
I wondered where Jack Nicholson as McMurphy and Nurse Ratched were. There were times I felt I worked in an asylum, and now it seemed confirmed. Then it occurred to me that if we really worked together, if the individual “I’s” could become an “us”, it could be musical, maybe a symphony, not just for our company, but all companies, maybe even Washington, and the world. I hadn’t had this good of an idea since I drank a gallon of blue whales and had been thrown out of club for dancing on the table to “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly and Kenny.
On the way to work the next morning, and listening to the oldies, I figured I just need my coworkers to see the message clearly. I slinked from office to office, hearing Aretha in my mind, undid the top button of my shirt, loosened the knot, pulled my tie off, and danced around employees’ desks, in offices, and then in cubicles. I tossed my tie around their necks, pulled them closer, did the bump with their office chairs, and undulated in front of them like Elvis.
They didn’t get the idea and I was reported to the director of Human Resources. He warned sexual harassment, but I decided to dance for him, shared that I had latched on to his hips, had to reach up to grab them while the president’s secretary had grabbed my beltloops. He had no sense of humor, had no sense of what we all could be if we were together, and my unemployment checks should arrive every other Friday.
Niles Reddick is author of a novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in seventeen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, Citron Review, and The Boston Literary Magazine.