March 28th, 2002


Cheesy Dreams

Where I work, you don’t get paid for extra responsibilities. Everyone starts at the same wage, then earns more money per hour through seniority. What I do get, as a cheese monger, is a more flexible schedule. Twice a week, instead of cutting, wrapping, stocking and talking to customers for 8 hours, I get to spend part of the day meeting with sales reps*, talking on the phone, checking prices, cheese chatting, schmoozing, and hanging out in the walk in cooler. I also get to go home when my work is done rather than when a shift is scheduled to end.

But, as the buyer, I often have the details on my mind more than I would when I was only cutting and wrapping. And when work gets complicated, I start having cheese dreams. Last night I had a dream where somehow my monthly sales lists were computerized and the prices kept changing if I didn’t order fast enough. I blew a chance to get Fromage D’Affinois for $2 a wheel by mere seconds. Oh, the pain. (I think this was inspired by looking for cheap airfare online as much as by cheese pressure.)

Another time all my regular cheese reps were replaced by petty but annoying people I hadn’t seen since high school. No one I really hated or who tormented me, but no one who I was happy to see either. And they all wanted to reminisce for hours about events I couldn’t remember as I tried to place my orders and get them to leave.

But every November before the holiday rush I have the same dream. I’m in the walk in (which is somehow warehouse-sized) and all the cheese, piled high to the ceiling and in every available nook, cranny and corner, is aging, drooping, and molding before my eyes. I keep grabbing at it, trying to get to it while it’s still edible, but the display coolers are full and no customers are in the store to buy it. Then, more deliveries start arriving. Hurried drivers, unhappy at the size of my orders and holiday-season hassle are dropping off pallets of non-refuseable pre-orders and yelling at me to sign the invoices. The produce workers are mad because they can’t get to the broccoli because my stacks of cheese are in the way and the cheese mold is starting to infect the salad mix. My cheese co-workers stick their heads in and scream, "Where did you expect this to go?

But when I wake up, I still want more cheese tattoos.

*Little known fact: rep is an abbreviation for reptile.
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