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    Into the Whirlpool

    Centi Pizza/A Cleaner Workplace/Car Murder

    by , 08-15-2012 at 03:59 PM (265 Views)
    Centi Pizza
    There is a particular brand of frozen pizza that is supposedly all the rage right now; in fact it's attained legendary status as some sort of superfood. However, I've never had it because the store I shop at has never carried it. (Later I learn that this is because supplies of the pizza are tightly rationed for some reason--maybe overwhelming demand?) Today I'm in the store and everyone is buzzing because THE PIZZA IS HERE. At first it seems like I'm not going to be able to get my hands on any because while there are free samples available, people apparently needed to reserve a sample in advance! But as I'm walking around the store that doesn't actually seem to be the case. I start to see samples set out everywhere, with labels like "Try this tonight for dinner!" The pizza is basic cheese and pepperoni and comes in little bite-size rolls. I take one and pop it into my mouth. It's lukewarm and doesn't really taste like anything special--I can faintly taste the pepperoni, but otherwise it almost has no taste at all. Yet after I've had one bite I discover I can't stop eating it. I NEED more. I'm walking around the store eating handfuls of pizza bites, and I can see open pizza boxes everywhere because apparently store employees and customers alike are all just WOLFING this stuff down. I see M.M. from work, who holds up a pizza box and says "Hey Coyote, did you hear about the new pizza they finally--" and I interrupt him with a cheery "Yup, way ahead of ya!" Apparently this pizza goes under the brand name of "Centilavi" ("Cantilavi"?) or just Centi for short. I think E.L. from work is also there.

    There are also other pizza samples in the store, but they're from a different maker and they're whole pizzas, not bite-sized things. I take a bite of one piece and discover it is actually pizza cleverly interwoven with large sticky blocks of pasta. It actually doesn't taste bad (it's similar to the Centi pizza in that I can't really taste anything) but the idea of a pizza-pasta hybrid grosses me out, so I stop eating it. Another piece (of regular pizza this time) is supposedly "super spicy" and features some kind of meat with spicy sauce, but again I can barely taste it, and what I can taste doesn't seem spicy at all.

    A Cleaner Workplace
    I'm leaving work, but before I go I have a conversation with someone about how much cleaner the place used to be when it had a full complement of cleaning staff. I pass through a number of small rooms and hallways on my way to the exit (it's a pretty labyrinthine workplace in my dream, apparently). Just before the exit there's a large room that serves as a warehouse area; the left side of the room is fenced off to create a corridor for foot traffic. In the warehouse is a woman who starts out looking vaguely like S.W. (medium-length blond hair) but ends up having dark, very curly hair by the end of our conversation. We talk about the same thing: the office's former cleanliness. The woman mentions that we also used to be fully OSHA-compliant (I think she said OSHA) and I have a memory of seeing some sort of chart with green dots on it that illustrates our former compliance levels. "If you go way back to the 90s," she says, you'd see a real difference in how things looked. I start to laugh at this, thinking she's making a joke by saying "back to the 90s," but then realize she's not laughing. I quickly apologize and say that I've only been working here since... 2008 (it takes me a minute to come up with the year) so I wouldn't know what it was like back then. She nods. While we are talking, a few more people have come into the warehouse, and I'm suddenly aware that they're all standing fairly close by as if they're listening to us. (One of them looks like J.R. but has his hair in a ponytail.) I suddenly feel uncomfortable bitching about the workplace in front of them. I'm about to leave the woman with one last assenting remark that her observations are right on the money, but because of the onlookers I change my mind... and then am at a complete loss for what I should *actually* say. I stand there with my mouth open for almost 10 seconds while I try to come up with something. Finally I say something like "If we meet again, I'd like to talk more about this" and this seems to satisfy her. I walk away and realize I don't know her name and she probably doesn't know mine.

    Car Murder
    There's some sort of incredible new model of car that I may have been test driving (this part of the dream is hazy). I'm walking down the sidewalk to get to where my car is parked and pass one version of this model, but it's not my car. I can hear a group of young guys partway down the street heckling loudly at someone's car because it's the shiny new model, and I know instantly that they're looking at my car. I increase my pace and hope I don't find them vandalizing it or anything. I get there and discover that my car is actually kind of a hybrid of old and new: it has the new model's frame (or maybe just part of it?) but still has its old tires and the same beat-up front license plate. Well, when I say it has its old tires, it actually only has *two* of those tires: both the right front and right rear tires are completely gone, yet the car is upright and balanced as if nothing was missing. I think the gang stole the tires (I am dimly aware that they're surrounding the car) but I don't see any signs that anyone there is responsible for the theft, aside from the continued heckling. As I watch, the car suddenly bucks, like a horse, all on its own; the front of it bends in a weird way as if there's some kind of extra joint in the hood. This gets a louder jeering from the crowd. One guy approaches the front of the car, and suddenly the car bucks again and somehow *grabs onto him* with its front fender. The car rears up high in the air, then comes down hard, slamming the guy into the pavement. He brokenly tries to get to his feet, stammering "But I--" and the car picks him up and begins to roll forward, slamming him down again and again and again until there's nothing left of the guy except a smear of red paste stretching down the road. I am standing on the sidewalk, stunned, with my mouth open. From across the street the guy's mother comes running out of an apartment. "Joe! JOE!" she yells. There's a pause and then the mother lets out a wordless, resounding shriek that echoes off the buildings. At this point I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to be held accountable for Joe's murder (even though I had nothing to do with it) since I'm the owner of the car.

    [small skip] The mother is kneeling on the sidewalk next to me. I am next to her with an arm around her back for support. I can see blood on her dress. She talks quietly and seems much calmer after her initial outburst. There is a tight group of people surrounding the two of us, but they are friends. I don't feel threatened at this point, since it doesn't seem like the mother is looking to place blame on anyone for the incident. (A calculating part of me knows this is because I made sure to be by her side and befriend her from the get-go.) For some reason we're talking about mental health, I think. I don't remember much of the conversation except that at one point someone asks "Well, how's Chihiro Onitsuka* doing these days [with her issues]?" Someone replies that she's hanging on, but barely, and that the national health system "let her off with a warning," whatever that means. It's an odd conversation but suggests that mental problems are pretty heavily stigmatized and that people have few if any resources when it comes to seeking help for them.

    *Oni is a wonderful Japanese singer.

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