December 24, 2001
Living The Fantasy


One of my favorite fantasies has always been the The Entire World Has Stopped Except For *Me* fantasy.

You know the fantasy I'm talking about. You've seen the Twilight Zone episode. Through some mysterious, magical means -- usually involving antique pocket watches and/or dubious pacts with smirking devils, as portrayed by John Glover -- the world has temporarily frozen in place, and *I* am the only human being still able to walk and talk and think and move around in real time. What I always liked about the fantasy, aside from the fact that it guaranteed plenty of my precious beloved Alone Time, something I could never seem to get enough of, then OR now,  was the idea of being able to do stuff I couldn't normally do. I don't mean anything illegal or immoral or out of character -- no breaking into cars, no peeking at people without their clothes on, no helping myself to the contents of the nearest cash register -- but innocent mischief,  like wandering around the shopping mall, trying on hats and evening gowns and diamond necklaces, or snooping around the inside of my next-door neighbor's house, just to see how they live. It was the idea of having the world all to myself for a little while that appealed to me, I think.

Today has been sort of like living that fantasy.

Traffic was nonexistent, driving into work. There was one other car in the tube, I think, as we were crossing from Alameda into Oakland: normally it's jammed, bumper-to-crabby-impatient-tailgating-bumper. The freeway was equally deserted. 

"It's like driving around in a big empty parking lot," I remarked to David, and he nodded in agreement. Not too many people working on Christmas Eve this year, from the looks of it.

But it was stepping inside my office building that really brought the fantasy to life.

I knew ahead of time that The Dirt Company was going to be a ghost town today. One of my primary duties as Lobby Goddess is tracking the whereabouts (and vacation schedules) of my co-workers. So I knew in advance that 97% of the office had scheduled Christmas Eve off, and that the other 3% were likely to call in and plead "stomach flu" at the last minute. I knew that I would be alone for the bulk of the day: that I would have to unlock the doors and turn on the lights and pretty much man the fort, all by my lonesome. I was prepared for a day of solitude, with only occasional interruptions from the world outside.

What I hadn't expected was for the entire BUILDING to be empty.

I could tell, the instant I unlocked the main door and stepped into the lobby: it wasn't just The Dirt Company that was essentially closed today. The whole building was deserted. The silence said it all ... that, and the absolute absence of any other human beings. Nobody on the elevator. Nobody in the hallways. Nobody wandering around in the courtyard, or hanging out in front of the water fountains, or lingering next to the Tampax machine in the ladies room. The employment development office upstairs -- usually a source of considerable foot traffic -- is closed today. So, apparently, is the architecture firm on the first floor, the construction consultation company on the fourth floor, the handful of tiny one-person offices scattered in between. At one point, midway through the morning, I switched the phones over to Night Bell and tiptoed down the hallway to drop off a Fed Ex package. Not a creature was stirring ... not even a mouse.

Here is what's surprising, though. The The Entire World Has Stopped Except For *Me* fantasy hasn't been anywhere near as exciting or interesting or fun as I thought it would be. Mostly it's just been excruciatingly dull ... like sitting in the waiting room at the dentist's office waiting for that gum scraping. I've spent most of the day munching on stale Wheat Thins, reading my book ("Where The Heart Is") and cleaning my ears with a bent paper clip. At one point Jaymi called -- we chit-chatted about last-minute Christmasy stuff -- and later in the morning I called Polenville and got Kyle on the phone for a few minutes. (No Kacie yet, but I'll try again tonight.)  I logged onto the Internet and read other journals for a while. I listened to Christmas music on KFOG. I took off my shoes and went "ice skating" on the slippery Conference Room floor. I wandered around and looked at all of the photos and postcards and personal stuff my co-workers have hanging on their cubicle walls. (One guy is REALLY into fishing, apparently: I didn't know that until today, but he's got trout pictures all over the place. Another guy is clearly the world's biggest Cincinnati Reds fan. I didn't know he even liked football!)  About halfway through the afternoon, the General Manager and one of the geotechnical engineer guys stopped in, to fill out their timesheets and check their e-mail. I was pathetically happy to see them, and attempted to engage them in conversation -- or a quick game of Twister, maybe -- but they obviously had other places to be and they didn't stick around for long. Eventually I wound up alone again, staring vacantly out the window at the empty parking lot below me ... watching the day grow dark ... wishing it was 5:00 already, and time for David to come pick me up and take me to his parents' house for Christmas Eve dinner.

Nope. Nine hours of the The Entire World Has Stopped Except For *Me* fantasy has been plenty for me, thanks. I'm thinking that next time I'll ask for the Turning Myself Invisible At Will fantasy, instead ... or maybe the Self-Perpetuating Dollar Bill fantasy.

Or the Clicking My Heels Together and Saying 'There's No Place Like Home' fantasy.

That one might be sorta fun ... especially on Christmas Eve.



tell 'em secra sent you

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on the other hand: i only had to make
the ^$&#! coffee ONCE.