Raise your hand if you had a nightmare before? Raise your hand if you experience one or more recurring nightmares? Believe it or not, everyone has their own nightmares. They are more often to occur when you suffer from anxiety, depression, postpartum depression, and other mental health conditions. For some, they will wake up in the middle of the night and cause you to scream. If you’re like me, I have recurring nightmares and they’re more frequent during stressful times.

I have a list of chronic recurring nightmares: snakes, tornadoes, witnessing a crime, and even experiences in retail give me the creeps.

The first recurring dream was when I was around the age of 6 or 8 years old, and it was snakes. The house that I lived in at the time was in a wooded area and contractors built an entire subdivision that’s surrounded by woods. Why? I will never know. The most common pest that will be lurking around if you live near the woods are snakes. The childhood home that I lived was a virtually snake zone. My first encounter with a snake was when I was out to play (that’s what us 80’s kids did back in the day) and then a grass snake popped out from the ground and latched onto my ankle. I didn’t know that grass snakes don’t have teeth, but he latched onto ankle and left an imprint. I screamed so loud that my dad said it’s just a grass snake and they don’t have teeth. For then on, I had nightmares because of it. I would occasionally find snake skins all over the front yard. And one afternoon, I walked over to a friend’s house to play when I immediately stopped dead in my tracks. I heard a rattle coming from behind me and turns out it was a rattlesnake. I froze (and peed myself) and remained calm and prayed that I wouldn’t be bitten. After a few (long) minutes, the rattlesnake went on his merry way and I ran home as fast as I could.

Those snakes got into our house easily. In the basement, we set up traps to catch them. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it backfired. But I remember my mom was downstairs doing laundry in the basement when a snake crawled his way into our clothes dryer. Well, when the dryer went off and my mom opened up the dryer, she let out the biggest blood curdling scream ever. Apparently, the snake died in the dryer and my dad was the brave one to fish the snake out of the dryer. You have no idea how thrilled I was when we moved to a different home in a different city because my dad got a different job. I think another reason why we decided to move was because a girl in the neighborhood was kidnapped and brutally murdered. That was scary.

When I got to high school, I hated going to my science class. I do not like walking into a classroom with animals in jars with formaldehyde (gross) and also there were two aquarium sized tanks with huge 5 foot long boas. I walked into the classroom just as they were feeding the snakes their lunch (mice) and I immediately skipped that class. I told the teacher that I hate snakes and I refuse to go to class. He told me to suck it up. Nice. So one day when I was doing a makeup test, the teacher locked me in the classroom had because he to run errands in the office and would return shortly. Did I mention those snakes would get out of the aquarium tanks very easily? Yes! On numerous occasions! I was in the middle of a problem and I kept looking up and saw that both snakes were in their tanks. About 5 minutes later, I look and one of the snakes went AWOL. It was like God had put me in a room with the devil himself just to torture me. The next thing that I could hear was the snake slithering around my backpack and eventually wrapped himself around my lower body. My dad always said that snakes are mild mannered and if you don’t provoke them, you’re fine. I took a deep breath and quickly devised a plan to get the hell out of there. When the snake finally let go and slithered his way to the other side of the room, I grabbed my stuff and ran to the teacher’s office and slammed the door. And then I went through the other door that led me out to the hallway. So I finished my test outside and I really pissed that snake off. I looked through the door and he was hissing at me. I pretty much stuck my tongue out at him and told the snake to leave me alone.

When I lived in Wisconsin and when Tink was younger, we were out for a walk and underneath some rocks by the Fish Hatchery where we used to live, I saw Tink checking something out. She was digging through the rocks and I looked down and saw the eye of a snake. Tink was checking out the snake and picked her up and ran inside. Just recently, I was outside doing some lawn work and a 3 foot long (non-poisonous) snake got into my backyard. Again, I screamed like a girl and went all Clint Eastwood (Get off my lawn!) on the snake.

I hate tornadoes as much as the next person. I’ve been in way too many. My first encounter was on the first day of school after recess when the sky immediately turned pitch black. All of us kids were inside at the time and before the tornado warning sirens went off, the twister had touched down on the playground. It caused significant damage to the playground, the church was damaged, the windows blew out and I was only 5. I didn’t know what that was. A few years later, I was visiting my grandparents’ house and I was outside with my dad and grandfather, when my dad starting checking out the sky. It was dead silent, the sky was pitch black, and within moments the tornado made its touchdown pretty quick. My dad picked me up and my family ran down to the basement and covered ourselves up as we waited out the storm. If you’ve been in a tornado, it’s the longest 3-5 minutes of your life. It’s so scary. One time in college, I was working and my parent’s were up in Madison buying a washer and dryer; when a tornado struck. The mall closed down and no one was allowed to leave and they all had to seek shelter. They were all OK. But since I worked about 25 miles away from Madison, I had to close up my shop because it was going to head in my direction. I listened to the radio and the tornado made its way to Janesville, to Cambridge (Matt Kenseth’s hometown!) and then changed directions and saw it plow through I-94. So, since I worked at a mall our safe spot was the public restrooms and fortunately, it missed my area and headed towards Fort Atkinson.

One of the most recent experiences was in April of this year. I was working at my old Starbucks store when I witnessed a violent domestic dispute that broke out in the drive thru. Long story short, two young teenagers were in a relationship and the guy got dumped. They started arguing and the girl called her parents and the ex-boyfriend stabbed his ex-girlfriend’s mother in the abdomen. I went outside to see what the commution was and I asked what was going on because I’m trying to run a business here, and the girl’s father said that his wife was stabbed by his daughter’s ex-boyfriend. I called the cops and I told my staff to lock the doors to the store because there was an emergency situation going on in the back and I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. I kept my calm and told both teenagers that there’s no excuse for this type of act to occur on public property. The ex-boyfriend worked next door to Starbucks. (FYI, he’s still employed and wasn’t fired. How and why I don’t know?) So, I called my district manager and explained the situation and had to fill out an incident report and also give a statement to the police on what I saw. I was shaking and the cops were so helpful to me and said everything will be OK. Well, a few days later, my body didn’t react well to that experience at all. I woke up on a Wednesday morning with excruciating pain in my left temple. It was constant throbbing and shooting pain that last for 48 hours straight. It was weird because I tried ibuprofen, Tylenol and Execedrin (not all at once) and it didn’t help. I went to urgent care during my shift because I couldn’t take it anymore. I did my research and I realized that it was a stress induced migraine. So at the urgent care, I explained everything that happened and what my symptoms were and was completely mad when the doctor made her assumption: a stroke. I said how am I having a stroke? If I did then I would be at the hospital, and face was be drooping, my eyesight would be blurry and my speech would be slurring. That diagnosis was so wrong. It turned out to be a migraine and nothing more. I was placed on Tylenol 3 (the good stuff) that helped relieve those painful migraines.

Did I mention before that working in retail can give you nightmares? Yes! Some of the worst experiences are working on Black Friday. I’ve seen people fighting over parking spaces, I’ve seen people fight over the last item in stock like children, I’ve seen people pull the stupidest stunts so that they can get whatever they want. One of the recurring ones is when I encountered people that are just plain rude. Remember the golden rule: Treat people the way that you wanted to be treated? For most, they don’t care. I’ve been cursed out by customers before and I don’t take that very lightly. There’s no excuse for being rude. I always say that people should work in the service industry and learn how it feels like for people who work in retail. Then maybe they will understand. Starbucks is a place where I’ve met some of the rudest customers imaginable. I’ve had customers yell because their drinks weren’t right (even though they weren’t). I had fights break out in the drive thru, had multiple fender benders occur in drive thru. I’ve seen people drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol in my drive thru. I had one customer at the window ask a question about cold brew and the car behind him honked their horn at him and told him to hurry up. The guy got out of his car and started cursing the other driver out. I told both drivers to cool down or else they can discuss it with the police. Another time, I had a guy that was verbally threatening someone’s life over the phone in drive thru and I said to that guy that I will not tolerate that kind of behavior. He said to mind my own business. How rude. I’ve had to call the cops for aggravated assault outside my store, call for a disorderly conduct in the parking lot; and most recently, had to call the cops for a customer that was drinking as well as panhandling in the store. So you can imagine the stress I go through on a daily basis in retail. Some people are just mean.



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