The other day I had this dream that woke me up, as it strongly urged me to write it down. It quickly turned into a short film, and someday when it gets filmed I can legitimately call it that. So the premise is that this young, bushy-eyed guy has a terrible first day at his new job, and I’ll let what I typed drowsily in that early morning tell you the rest:

So the characters are Tim, Tim’s mom, Burt the janitor, Alice the crush, Owen the supervisor, Doug the executive, and there’s a slight possibility it will also include the President of United States. This is because in an alternate version the audience finds out about halfway through that Tim is actually working at the White House, with the mini-reveal happening when he runs into the president and gets some life advice. This will only work with a different president, obviously.

So the opening scene is 21-year-old Tim in the car with his mom in car discussing the job he’s about to go to.

Tim (being modest, but clearly proud of himself): Mom, it’s not that big of a deal.

Mom: Oh, no? The first in our family to finish college? And with honours! And now a job where you’re dressed like the president?

[Editor’s mid-dialogue note: Tim is wearing an ill-fitting dress shirt and slacks, which is not actually stylish. As mentioned previously, the mother’s comparison could fit in as a little foreshadowing.]

Mom (continued): Honey, even if you don’t realize it, this day means a lot to us, and I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished. Your father is proud too, and he’s smiling down on you.

Tim has a sentimental look on his face as he nods positively but then looks away quickly. His father used to be a custodian, which becomes relevant later.

Mom: Here, he wanted me to give this to you at your wedding, but I think today is important enough and I couldn’t wait any longer.

Mom hands Tim a very nice watch.

[Editor’s note: This is either too much like Pulp Fiction or an homage.]

Tim: Wow, I thought he was buried in this. This means the world.

Mom (smiling, laughing, almost crying): Thank your father.

Tim (smirking proudly): I have to go. Love you Mom!

The car stays parked outside building, implying Mom is collecting her thoughts, as Tim walks towards front door of building.

Burt, the crazy janitor, is sweeping the front area and notices that Tim looks nervous.

Burt: Your tie is loose, son.

Tim: Oops, thanks, sir.

Tim tries to fix it himself but is having a hard time. Burt sees him struggling.

Burt: Here, let me help you. And I’m no sir. In here, you’re the sir, sir.

Burt straightens Tim’s tie, but leaves behind a small grease stain on his shirt, which starts the unraveling of his day.

Tim enters building and steps up to receptionist desk, clearly apprehensive.

Tim: Uh, I’m here to see Owen Peters.

Receptionist: I’ll page him. Please take a seat.

While waiting for Owen, who will be showing him around, Tim runs into the contact who helped him get job, through a Facebook post. They barely know each other.

Alice: Tim! You got the job after, that’s great. I have a meeting, but we’ll catch up later.

He stands up quickly and his shirt gets caught on something and gets untucked, although he doesn’t notice it happening. She’s friendly but evidently in a rush. He has a slight crush on her, which is a big deal to him because he’s never had a girlfriend before.

Tim: Yeah, uh, thanks again for –

She’s long gone by now. Owen shows up.

Owen: Tim, my man! Great to have you here. Sorry I’m late. I was watching the highlights from last night. You see Warren’s TD. Oh man!

Tim: Yeah, sports. I like sports.

Owen: Alright, anyways. Let’s get going. There’s a bunch of people I want you to meet.

Owen rushes through the crowded workplace, saying hello to a lot of people he passes, not looking back at Tim, who’s having a hard time keeping up with him. Owen gets in the elevator and the door closes, with Tim narrowly missing his chance to get on.

Two women are standing nearby talking. One of them laughs, and the other one starts to ask him what’s wrong but it’s at this point he realizes he doesn’t have his bag, containing his phone and new laptop, as well as his father’s watch. He panics, looking around, unable to find it. He can’t wait for Owen any longer so he retraces his steps to find the bag. He runs around, at this point noticeably sweating all over. He sees similar-looking black bags everywhere but is unsure how to approach people to ask if it’s his. Someone thinks he’s trying to steal their friend’s at one point. Suddenly he has to pee really bad, which happens to him when he’s nervous, something about uromycetisis poisoning. So he must abandon his immediate goal of finding the bag, and also the secondary goal of finding Owen. He runs into bathroom and slips on floor pee. He gets up and shakes himself off, his pants now covered in someone else’s pee. Burt shows up and checks out the scene, assuming it was Tim who peed on the floor. Burt shakes head disapprovingly and starts cleaning it up.

Tim: No it wasn’t me. Watch.

Tim goes up to urinal and starts peeing. Burt finds this interaction awkward as an employee has never asked him to watch them pee before. They get into a bit of an argument as Tim continues to pee. Since he’s paying more attention to Burt than his stream, he ends up peeing on the wall. Burt now knows it wasn’t him, because clearly he hadn’t peed yet, but now he’ll have to clean Tim’s wall pee too.

Remember his other tasks, Tim runs out of the bathroom, getting more panicky and disheveled as the day goes on. He gets into a few more shenanigans, and eventually ends up in the elevator. He sees that his new company is on the top four floors, and he’s unsure which one to go to find Owen. He chooses the top floor, which is where the executives work (or the president).

Tim (to Doug, the first person he sees): Excuse me, do you know where Owen is?

Doug doesn’t know who Owen is and thinks Tim looks half crazy.

At some point Tim insults Doug, the big kahuna (/president. If it’s the president the reason he doesn’t recognize him is because at some point he gets temporarily blinded.)

Someone (at some point): Do you need any help?

Tim (walking away, hopelessly): Yes I do.

[Author’s note: There’s more, of course, but I can’t give it all away yet so hopefully this tease is enough. As you can tell, it all goes to shit for most of the day, but maybe everything works out in end, where he eventually gets confidence and succeeds. Or maybe he’s about to get fired but cuts the boss off with an “I quit!” Also there’s this decoy cheesy ending where Tim goes, “It’s my first day!”, which causes laughter to ensue, and then that line becomes his catchphrase. This is the ending I sent to my friends to make sure they catch how stupid it is and tell me to take it out. The ones who don’t, I won’t be able to trust their opinions anyway.]

March 16 – John Darnielle gets a dream that, when scrawled on paper, evolves into a film about a calamitous first day at work
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