I wake up, but I don't open my eyes. Everything feels wrong. Noise. Screeching. My back hurts. My neck hurts. Movement. What is this? A horrible nightmare! I open my eyes.

What I see then is a woman with a head that looks like Medusa's with gray dirty thick wads of hair instead of vicious snakes. She is grinning at me. The lights go out. They come back. The woman's grin isn't there anymore. She has turned her back to me. She is walking away between the seats and the thin metallic columns.

I'm on the subway.

Oh, no, not again.

This happens to me every time I try to get to the office early for whatever reason. I end up arriving later than usual after a long tour through the underbelly of the city. Even if I was conscious, the tour wouldn't be too edifying. There are only so many ways to appreciate the experience of a subway.

This time, however, it's not so bad. I wake up only two stations after mine. I'll be able to walk back. The train stops. I get out. A poster of a sad dog is waiting for me.

The poster says, Are you happy at home? Don't worry, we can help! Call 1-800-MY-NUHOM. The text below, in a smaller font, says they have the right mortgage for me. That's right! For me! Wow.

The poster is spooky. It knew. It knew I wasn't happy. And they can help. A mortgage! Thank God for Capitalism. Or maybe thank Capitalism for God. It's not all positive, though. I do think that dogs will resent the comparison. And I can't remember seeing many sad dogs. It must be a special effect, an illusion. Like coming back home and finding the kitchen has cleaned itself, for example.

I walk on.

Not many people yet, which is good. No battles over a square foot of ground to stand on. No pushing. Not much anyway. I go up, through a labyrinth of stairs, and what greets me outside is the sun. The street signs let me decide on a direction.

I'm glad I left the reports and the backpack at home. Okay, actually, I forgot to bring them, but it makes little difference. No backpack, one block, and I'm already sweating. You know it's going to be a hot day when you break a sweat at six thirty in the morning after walking three hundred feet. Luckily for us worker bees, our building has air conditioning, so we get to pretend that shearing, dry cold is much, much better than boiling heat. Another plus: taking sick leave for a cold in the summer. Technology has liberated us from the age of lame excuses.

I finally get to the building. I'm half dehydrated: it seems that most of my body water is on my clothes.

The security guard doesn't even raise an eyebrow as I pass. He is too busy with the crossword puzzle. The elevator is all mine. The first elevator has a handwritten sign stuck on its door. The sign says, OUT OF ORDER.

Okay, don't panic.

The other elevator has a similar sign. This one is written in red. Very threatening. I don't even approach that elevator. I look across the lobby to the other two. Pieces of paper are stuck on their doors too. I don't even have to read them.

The gods are against me. And even though our society is supposed to be understanding of other religions, I'm sure it would be frowned upon if I sacrificed a chicken in front of the elevator to get it working. It might work if I sent a memo first, but there's no time for that. With the poultry-based ritual out of the picture, there's only one option left.

I'll have to take the stairs. Again.