Wed 19 Jul 2006
The alarm to wake up and go to work has not yet sounded, yet she is dreaming of trying to leave work. She exits the building and is blocked from the parking lot by a holiday parade. There is a brief gap between the sleigh full of bikini-clad girls and the group of toddlers on belled goats. She darts through, but too late– she’s among the goats and someone with a walkie-talkie puts a “Staff” sticker on her shirt. She is in charge of the toddlers on goats. The toddlers keep falling off the goats as they head downhill, and whenever a goat bleats it sets three toddlers wailing. They are supposed to throw candy to the crowd lining the street but they really don’t have the coordination for it, so the sweets tend to dribble off of the goats’ backs and sides to get crushed underfoot. Pink and green candy dust melts into the pavement.
The process is as much herding as it is guiding. The goats keep veering off to nibble the azaelas. She becomes quite good at fishing toddlers out of bushes, and she uses a thin branch for a goat switch. By the time the parade reaches the bottom of the hill, she is short two goats and three toddlers. She looks back and realizes how far she will have to climb to reach the parking lot and her car.