Back To Work

Originally Posted on Slack: 2023 February 13

I recently took a two-week vacation from work.  Leaving the older kids with Grandma and Grandpa, my wife and I and the baby went on a cruise that ran from Monday to Saturday.  The following Sunday we got up for church, then afterward we were still so exhausted from traveling we went back to bed for a nap. Here's the dream I had during that nap.

I dreamed it was my first day back to work after the trip, and the office was in some huge Victorian-style mansion.  (Maybe it was a company retreat?)  My work station was an elementary desk clumped with a couple of other elementary desks.  C.S. sat at the desk angled to my right and another developer whom I can't remember sat angled to my left.  As I approached our cluster of desks, I saw that my desk had been pushed out a bit so that a man could stand in front of C.S.'s desk.  He was a tall, heavy-set man, with a snobbish air of superiority about him, and he looked a bit like Mr. Dursley from the Harry Potter films.  At the moment he was berating C.S.

Explaining why he hadn't made more progress, C.S. said, “I'm the only person working on this project.”

“And that is why you should have started sooner,” the man said.

I didn't know who this man was, but I knew he was there to cause problems, so I sat at my desk for a few minutes with the intention of emailing my boss about the situation, but I couldn't figure out my computer's operating system which was a weird, maritime-themed mobile device interface, so I got up and left.  The snooty man was still chewing out C.S. as I walked away.

I soon found my boss and told him, “There's an upper-corporate-looking man shouting at employees.”  My boss explained that he was there to evaluate employee performances and that we needed to cooperate with him.

I then returned to my desk and found that the man was gone.  “That guy is mad he couldn't shout at me after he got done with you, isn't he?” I said to C.S.

“He wasn't happy,” said C.S.

“Well, this is my first day back,” I replied.

Apparently the man had been there since half-way into my two-week absence.  Somehow I wasn't worried about it, and took a relaxed approach to the situation, even goofing off a bit.

Somebody's eight-year-old daughter was wandering the building and at one point she said needed somebody to play dead for her play.  So I said, “Tell them my last words were, 'Hot Pocket!'” (said in a sing-song tone) then collapsed on the spot, pretending to be dead in front of several people who were working.  It was a large, open area with several tables and desks.  One developer got up and picked up my feet and another took a hold of my arms.  Then they dragged me out of the area, and they took me “the long way” which somebody had earlier commented would be a good way to sneak a corpse out of the building.

The way I'd been dragged ended up pulling my shirt up over my head, so after I got done playing dead I pulled it off and turned it right-side in as I walked down a hallway.  I was still shirtless and fidgeting with my shirt when I walked past a door lined with a thin, tall window.  The grumpy man caught a glance of me though the window, so he came to the door and opened it, looked first to his right from whence I'd come, then to his left where I had gone.  “Perhaps you'd like to join us for the meeting that started while you were being disposed of,” he said.

I finished pulling on my shirt and entered the room, where I found several developers sitting on the floor in neat rows like it was music time in elementary school.  I sat in an empty spot in the back.

“Now, your assignment,” said the frumpy man, resuming his presentation, “is to make chocolate.  You have 75 minutes to make chocolate, and I want to see who can be the first person to bring me chocolate.”

I realized we were in a kitchen area as everybody got to their feet and started looking panicky as they talked about finding the ingredients they needed.  The eight-year-old was there too and looking stressed as if she had a job that was on the line.  I didn't know the first thing about actually making chocolate, so I turned to her and said, “Let's go see if we can find a recipe for chocolate.”  She remained rooted to the spot however as I left the room.

I headed back to my desk with the intention of looking up a recipe on-line, but on my way I found on the floor a plate of half-eaten chocolate desserts.  I flicked off a wrapper and took the plate back to the kitchen full of developers.  I presented the plate to Mr. Dursley and said, “You only said we had to bring you chocolate within 75 minutes.”

Mr. Dursley grudgingly accepted the plate and muttered, “You did manage to bring me chocolate within zero minutes.”

“Yeah,” I said, “and if you don't like it I've got a Snicker's bar back at my desk, and maybe even a Wonka bar.”

“What is this?!” demanded the suddenly not-grumpy man, indicating the square of brownie he'd just sampled.

“It looks homemade,” I said.  “I think one of the developers made it.”

Then I woke up.

I decided to share this dream with my co-workers, via Slack, our in-office chat, then they decided to analyze it.  “I wanted to write something briefly analyzing just how on-point this dream is, but decided to have chatgpt do it for me 😆,” wrote J.E.

Here's what the artificial intelligence had to say about my dream:

This dream can be symbolic of software development in several ways.  First, the presence of the tall, heavy-set man who is berating C.S. can represent the pressure and stress that software developers face from their superiors or stakeholders.  The man's snobbish air of superiority also reflects the common misconception that developers are easily replaceable and are not given proper respect for the work they do.

The difficulty in finding and operating the computer, as well as the maritime-themed mobile device interface, may symbolize the challenges developers face in adapting to new technologies and constantly changing work environments.  The eight-year-old daughter's request to play dead can represent the childlike playfulness that can sometimes be found in software development, as well as the lighthearted approach that can be helpful in managing stress in a demanding job.

Finally, the dream of making chocolate within a limited time frame can represent the pressure of deadlines and the need for quick problem-solving skills in software development.  The fact that the protagonist brings the chocolate within zero minutes by finding a plate of half-eaten chocolate desserts may symbolize the importance of resourcefulness and creativity in the software development process.

Overall, the dream highlights the challenges and pressure faced by software developers, but also the importance of a lighthearted approach, resourcefulness, and creativity in tackling these challenges.

K.C. responded with, “ChatGPT's reply is too funny.  Half eaten-chocolate desserts found on the floor = resourcefulness and creativity.”

J.E. went on to say, “My immediate thought on reading the dream was that the half eaten chocolate is just 2 stack overflow posts in a trench coat— so it hit the nail on the head for what I was interpreting. 😅”