Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Job Journal: Assistant, Hodges Library, UT

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Student Assistant, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee

Duration: 11 months

Year: 2001

This was only my second job, and to this day one of the longest durations I've ever withstood at a job. If I remember correctly I got it through a university-only classified site. I'm not sure. This is pre-Craigslist time, so my memory of how things happened back then are vague.

There were two major departments at Hodges: circulation and stacks. Circulation sat at the front desk, checked out/received library books, and put the returns on carts in the back. My department, stacks, got those carts and took them up to our various floors to reshelve them. When that was done, we checked the stacks to make sure the books were all in order. Hodges Library is six floors, and at the time home to over 2 million books. They use the Library of Congress system (vs. the Dewey Decimal system), so call numbers like PS1360.B64.1907 were not uncommon. Needless to say, walking down a row of books and making sure those numbers all line up can start to work on you over time.

I started out in the spring semester on the fourth floor. This is where most of the books people were coming to read were located: fiction, plays, poetry, general humanities, fine arts. You know, all those fun things your parents don't want you to major in. Given my shorter shifts during the schoolyear and the volume of books moving in and out due to finals, most of the time I was just shelving. In the summer, the grind really hit. We'd finish shelving books within an hour, and I'd have six or seven hours in front of me of just walking down the rows, checking every shelf for out-of-place books. I tried bringing my Walkman in and listening to the radio. The signal was weak in the building. This is a job that would have been revolutionized with an iPod.

In the fall, I was given my own floor (oooh!). They sent me to the sixth, and smallest, floor. I alone was responsible for maintaining order! This mostly translated to me sitting in the floor reading The Right Stuff, thumbing through arty photography books, and returning the medical photography books from the men's room to the stacks with a pair of tongs on a daily basis.

I went home for Christmas at the end of the year, and upon returning to school I quit showing up for this job. I didn't tell anyone; I just quit going. Apparently they were expecting me for some crazy reason.

In future posts, I'll tell you about the joy of living on my own for the first time, one of the strangest bosses I've ever had, and a few translation quirks with my coworkers.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's just an actor and a writer.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 8 (Puppy Class!)

Yesterday, Omar got to walk on the ground outside for the first time. He got his final round of shots last week, and the vet said he'd be good to go and mingle by the end of the weekend. On Friday we signed him up for a six-week puppy training class that started yesterday, which was my only contribution to Black Friday. I'm sad to have contributed anything, but come on, it was $20 less.

Now begins the long process of teaching him that the awesome thing he's been doing on a pee pad 90% of the time is now something that needs to happen in a loud, strange, distracting, kind of cold environment. Yay!

Class went very well. We were worried he would be the only puppy, but two other dogs had signed up too. One was a big standard poodle puppy, and the other was a shiba inu. A big part of these classes is just socialization. Your dog needs to meet other dogs in controlled environments so he can learn how to behave around them. According to the trainer, throwing them into a dog park as soon as they're out of quarantine is not the best idea.

I have to admit I was nervous. What if that dog manual I'd been reading was, in fact, correct, and I'd ruined our puppy for all eternity? What if he was too stupid to learn the things we were going to teach him? What if WE were too stupid? What if he was the unruly kid in class, and we got kicked out because it was just easier without him?

Also, as a long-time cat owner, my assumption is that any time I take a pet outside he will immediately bolt away from me, never to be seen again.

All my fears were groundless. The dogs were excited to see each other, and Omar was able to figure out the three basic things we worked on. We've already had good success with sit, and her technique wasn't too different. We also started an exercise that will eventually teach him his name, and that when I say it he needs to pay attention. For now though, it just consists of showing him I have treats in my hands, holding them out to the sides, and rewarding him when he makes eye contact with me. The final thing was getting him to come to me. That took a little more work. Again, all you do is show him you have treats, then walk backwards and say "Omar, come!" When he does, give him a treat and say "Good!" Our dog is laconic, to say the least. When he did come, he'd take a few slow steps, sit, and think about things. The trainer gave us a toy to use as motivation instead, and that worked for a few rounds, but then he slowed his roll again. I looked at the other two dogs sprinting across the store to their owners with just a pang of jealousy, but it's OK. We wanted a chill dog, and boy did we get one.

They got one good period of play time in the middle of class. Omar and the shiba played together first, then the poodle was introduced since he's so much bigger. The shiba was shy, but Omar knew this game thanks to Tommy. He kept trying to engage the shiba by popping up on his hind legs and pawing at him. The shiba mostly wanted to hang out by her owners. She slowly came around, then the poodle game in and all bets were off. He and the shiba started rolling all over each other, and Omar was doing his best to jump into the game. It was hard not to jump in when it looked like it was getting rough, but the trainer knew what she was doing and it turns out, so did the dogs. Having only compared him to Tommy though, I now realize Omar is a tiny, tiny little dog.

This morning was the first of our new routine. Where Amy and I both got up at 7:30, her to get ready for work and me to squeeze all the pee and poop out of our dog that I could onto a pee pad, now we're getting up so I can take him outside and squeeze that stuff out there. No success yet, but I am meeting my neighbors finally. They will all come to know me as that sleepy guy in pajamas with the adorable dog, who introduced himself as "Omar, let's go potty!"

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's an actor and writer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Job Journal: Doorman at fancy women's clothing store

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Doorman at upscale women's clothing boutique in the Meatpacking District, NYC

Duration: 3 months

Year: 2006

This was my second summer in NYC, between my second and third year at grad school, and I needed a job. I couldn't go back to the hotel job after telling them I'd decided to go back to school last year, because what excuse would I use at the end of this summer? Turns out, the same one, but at a different job.

This was a Craigslist ad, just like the hotel job. I had experience this time, all the experience one needs to stand in one place for eight hours and open a door. They wanted a headshot too, which makes me think they wanted a big handsome model. Well, they got me instead. I believe they were considering another modelesque applicant, but apparently, spoiler alert, he was dumb as a rock. Which is saying something when your chief duty is opening a door.

In addition to opening the door, I was also "security." If someone wanted to walk out with a $500 dress, they probably could have. But I took it quite seriously, having grown up secretly spying on people anyway. I kept a mental map of every customer's position, made easier by the small size of the store. I made a game of wandering from the door to watch people without them knowing I was watching them. Creepy right? This is what happens when you're told to STAND IN ONE PLACE FOR EIGHT HOURS. Also, I follow every rule ever told to me with such fervor you'd think I was a Fascist in a former life. If you tell me to keep an eye on people, I damn well keep an eye on them.

Now, the uniform. Some of you reading this may have been fortunate enough to swing by and say hello to me at this job, so you know what it was. For the uninitiated, see below:

Note also the large glass wall I'm standing by. That meant a couple of things. First, several gay men popped in just to say things to me like "Aren't you just a little angel!" or "Is it your job to just stand here and look fabulous all day? Then you're doing great!" Don't get me wrong—that's super flattering. But I look like a clown. Which leads to number two: I'd stand so still, and so close to passers-by, that many times if I did slightly move they'd jump out of their skin. That was fun. I still have that shirt and belt.

Some of the people who worked here were nice enough, but come on. This was not my world. I make no claims to geniusry (see?), but I think it's not immodest to say my mind is active enough that if I stand in one place for eight hours, five days a week, I will slowly go insane.

In future posts I will tell you about our champagne stock, the racist music we were forced to listen to, and the time my manager tried to kill me with stupidity.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 7

Tonight we discovered that around 9 PM, Omar turns into a demonic bunny hell-bent on expending so much energy that our apartment spontaneously combusts. We were all on the couch, and he was seemingly getting relaxed in his own way. This typically consists of Omar throwing himself into various positions against the couch cushions, sliding along them, and grunting. He'll relax for a minute or two, then throw himself into another position until he finally falls asleep.

But not tonight. He began throwing himself more frequently, and finally did some sort of inverted twist while uttering a squawking yelp that I can only describe as the battle-cry of the damned. This kicked off a round of couch windsprints, wherein he charged back and forth between me and the end of the couch, running full-force into the cushions there. He tucked those bat-ears back and worked his back legs in such a way as to resemble said demon rabbit. Our initial surprise turned into amusement turned into oh god he's going to break himself.

We set him on the floor to pre-empt his falling off. Once there, he drew a pentagram and called forth dark shapes to aid his freak-out. It was weird.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Job Journal: Hotel Door/Bellman

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Doorman/bellman at Upper West Side hotel
Duration: 3 months
Year: 2005

I found this job through Craigslist. I had no relevant professional experience, though most of my previous jobs also did not allow me to sit and as a polite person I've opened many a door and carried many a bag for other people. Suddenly they were handing me 1s, 5s, and sometimes 20s for being polite. This was the first and thus far last job I ever had that involved tips. I liked it. If I had to go back to one of my old jobs tomorrow, I'd probably pick this one. Because I did not, in fact, have to dress like that guy in the picture.

The duties were self-evident. Open the door genially, carry any bags that needed carrying, and give directions/recommendations if asked. I didn't know the Upper West Side very well at the time, so whenever someone asked for a good restaurant I would just parrot the places I heard the other doormen recommend. I'm sure they were basing these recommendations on doormen before my time and so on, so that we were in fact recommending Tammany Hall-era speakeasies. If so, it never got back to me.

I was living by myself at the time in Inwood. This was the first summer after grad school. The hotel of course thought I was quitting school because it wasn't for me. I knew this entire time that at the end of the summer, I'd be telling them the school offered me an attractive scholarship and I was going to go back (see also: 2006). Taking a look at my somehow-still-increasing amount of student loan debt, I wish desperately this were true.

I usually worked the 3 PM-midnight shift, and since I was living alone I decided to flip my own script. I would wake up around 1 PM, eat breakfast, shower and head to work. I'd eat lunch at work around 6, then eat dinner at home around 1 AM. I would stay up til 4 or 5 playing video games or writing short pieces about how much I wanted to burn down my neighborhood. It was a solitary summer, but I'd gone through a bad breakup and I think it helped me reset to 1.

My fellow doormen were all pretty nice. There was an even split between blue collar and actor/artist types. One guy filled most of his time by getting DVDs from Netflix, copying them, and sending them back as fast as he could. Another guy was apprenticing with someone who was teaching him how to win online poker. The teacher made a steady living with his skill, and was including a few other people in a pyramid where he'd fund their playing after teaching them to at least break even, and giving them a cut of the winnings. If this is true, I'm still convinced it's the best way I could make money right now. There were at most three of us at the door at a time, but usually just two. Eight hours of standing around with another guy, you get to know them fairly well. The poker apprentice and I had the most in common. He was also an actor and generally into the same stuff as me, though frustratingly he would not hurry up and read the sixth Harry Potter, which came out while we worked there.

We were given shirts to wear with the hotel logo on them, and we had a locker room downstairs. I believe there may have actually been a working shower in there. Fun fact: I've never seen a shower in a locker room in use, though I've never belonged to a gym either. One time I was in the locker room getting ready for work with the poker apprentice. He looked at his shirt and said "do you think they'll let us keep this when we quit?" Career men, we were not.

In future posts, I'll tell you about how endearing a racial epithet can be to a white guy, why Italians have skin like their luxurious purses, and why I don't like French people.

Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Job Journal: Toys R Us

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Cashier/Wheel World associate at Toys R Us, Clarksville TN
Duration: 3 months, both times
Year: 1999, 2000

This was my first-ever job. I got it the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had never really encouraged me to get a summer or after-school job, for which I think I'm grateful. I certainly liked all my summers up to this point. I asked mom later why they never made me get a job, to which she said something along the lines of "it sucks and we wanted you to enjoy yourself for as long as possible." Fair enough.

I don't remember what motivated me to start working that summer. I think it just seemed like it was time. I had applied at a few places I thought I might enjoy: the Sound Shop in our mall, bookstores, things like that. These were all places I liked as a customer, so naturally working there would be fun right? Which incidentally is why I'm an actor now. I also loved Toys R Us.

That might be a bit of an understatement.

My hometown didn't have a Toys R Us for a long time. When I was young, we would drive to Nashville every few months and go to Showbiz Pizza and Toys R Us. I am too inexperienced a writer to describe to you the joy I felt on these trips. I remember marveling at the walls of strange toys, characters and entire worlds I'd never seen before. I remember the Millennium Falcon, out of the box, high up in the action figure aisle. Amazing.

So this was a natural target for me. They needed a cashier, and a cashier they got. After I was hired, I came in on a Friday afternoon for training on the register. Once I got it all down, the person training me walked away and left me to fend for myself. What I thought would be a quick few hours turned into a full eight hour shift on my feet. I had never stood for that long in my life. I don't think I ate dinner. I came home in shock. The MTV Movie Awards were on. It was the year Jim Carrey did that weird Jim Morrison thing.

The assistant manager had written down my schedule for the next week for me. I wasn't due in again til Sunday, so I was relieved to have Saturday to recover from my first ever day of standing for no reason. I was accustomed at this time to sleeping in until noon or so. The phone rang shortly after 10 AM, and mom came in and said it was for me. It was the store manager. "You're scheduled to open the store today. Are you going to make it in?"

Um, what? "Oh, Libby told me I wasn't coming in until tomorrow."

"Well, you're on the schedule for today. Come in as soon as you can and we'll show you how to read the schedule, OK friend?"

Fantastic first impression.

In future posts I'll tell you about my second summer here, how much I loved working at 3 AM, and my skill at finding deeply existential reasons to dislike any day job.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 6

That picture there? That is the face of a falling separation anxiety bomb. I'm reading about how to prevent this from happening while my puppy lays in my lap for three straight hours, which I take as a good indicator that we would both make awesome codependent spouses.

A big reason dogs freak out when you leave them alone is that you never taught them to be independent as puppies. So as I wait for his playpen to get delivered, I have to try crating him while I'm home so he doesn't have "unlimited access" to me. But—LOOK AT THAT FACE. How do you not grant said access to a face like that? We've clearly spent thousands of years evolving into this sick dance together. He knows what he's doing.

One key way to stop him from holding his breath until you come back home is to play it real cool when you do get back. Now I come in, set my stuff down, walk through the bedroom and turn on the computer. I'll look at him out of the corner of my eye. He's in his crate, watching me quietly. We're both pretending that we're not dying to run circles around each other. It's cool.

I need to set up my webcam to run the next time I leave the house for a few hours, but I'm scared of what I'll find. My chief concern is that he's howling and barking while I'm gone, but really it could be worse. What if he's running some sort of illegal poker/cockfighting/gladiator ring while I'm gone? It could happen.

In other news, dear lord how much pee can one dog hold?

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 5

The keyword today has been chewing. Our apartment is too small to really warrant a playpen for the dog, but just too big for me to be by his side without a constant effort. As such, I'm forced to follow him around the apartment, constantly nudging him aside or offering one of his MANY viable chew-objects when he starts chewing something else. The wall. A door. The magazine basket. The corner of the couch. These are all amazing shapes to be fully explored. You cannot know a thing til you've flaked off little pieces of that thing into your mouth. That's Voltaire, right?

We have this bitter apple spray we're supposed to use on things we don't want him chewing. Honestly I think the only way to effectively use it would be Ghostbusters 2-style, when they hose the inside of the Statue of Liberty with pink slime. I can't imagine our cat Tommy would be thrilled with that. Even he gets chewed from time to time.

We must buy him more chew toys. The apartment must be thick with chew toys to keep him from chewing non-chew-toy things. He requires a nonstop stream of floppy, rubbery, squeaky, food-filled gadgets to keep him occupied. I'm in the process of patenting a revolutionary design in which an entire apartment, both structure and furnishings, is just chew toy.

I have now said "Omar no" more in my life than my own name.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IncCorp Inc.'s Sort-a-tron 3000 Employee Processing Pod

Greetings, NEW WORKER. I am IncCorp Inc.'s Sort-a-tron 3000 Employee Processing Pod. Please step forward and place your hand on the employee identification cubelet in no less than three seconds. Three. Two.

Thank you.

Please shift your hand a bit to the right. A bit more. No, too much. Back a little. There. Hold for processing. I said hold.

Thank you.

Hello, BRIAN. Let me be the first and last to welcome you to IncCorp Inc. I look forward to placing you in the appropriate division of the corporation so that you may live out the rest of your life there and then die. Please stare directly into the brilliant blue light in front of you. Any discomfort you feel will be a small price to pay for the benefits of gainful servitude. Please do not blink.

You blinked. I now understand your low score on the motor skills week of the application procedures. Stare into the light again. Whimpering will not make the processing go any faster.

Thank you. Now hold. Hold. Hold. Think about the woman who birthed you, or the first animal you owned, if that is helpful. Hold.

Thank you. Full vision should return to that eye within seven cycles.

BRIAN, our application judges have found that you are an unexceptional example of your species. Your intellect is slightly above average, though you exhaust your entire conversational reservoir within 2.3 days. You have degrees from respectable IncCorp Inc.-sanctioned institutions, though the concentration of your studies has a relevancy factor of 1.5% in the current political and economic climate. This shows an inability to plan in the long-term on your part, as well as an unwieldy ego that makes you think you are able to escape the conditions of your environment. I find this a curious trait in humans. Nine billion of your contemporaries live in obscurity, you have a background that deviates from the norm by .03%, yet somehow you persist in thinking that you will achieve a lasting legacy amongst your species.

But I digress.

Based on my analysis and available positions, you will best serve IncCorp Inc. as an entryway maintenance technician. There are 3,281 doors in this facility. Your duties will include opening and closing each of these doors, checking for noise, friction, and ease of use. You will document all anomalies and submit them to the entryway maintenance supervisor for further review.

Analysis of your facial contours indicates that you are disappointed in this placement. Rest assured that the pressing and sensitive work done by the more intelligent, better-paid humans at IncCorp Inc. depends on their comfort in the workplace. My research has proven that silent, gently gliding doors will result in an output increase of .7%, or, to put it in terms your modest intellect can better grasp, 300 million Google credits. Given the incredibly high ratio between this number and your salary, you can see how valuable an investment you are for IncCorp Inc.

As per section 64, heading 2, subheading B, paragraph 1, refusal of this placement will result in extermination of both you and any human sharing more than 99.9998% of your DNA. You may begin your duties by examining the doorway leading out of this room.

Thank you.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 4

Omar is sleeping consistently through the night in his crate. We have set our alarms for four hours after we go to sleep, so we can get up, put him on the pads, cheer like idiots and then crate him and sleep for another four hours. We have the precision of a German special forces unit.

Today was Omar's first vet visit (with us, anyway—he's almost done with the battery of shots dogs need before they can freely mount each other with useless genitalia). He did very well. I'm looking forward to delivering the stool sample they'll need. I have a small clear plastic tube with a white spoon in it with which to do the deed. My plan is to walk down Ninth Avenue with it held at arm's length, screaming.

Last night's meltdown was revelatory. If he enjoys the crate enough to sleep in it, why push it? I'll get him to pee on the pads without confining him hourly. He's already getting there. A couple of times today he walked right over to them and peed without my prompting, though he certainly got a healthy reward when he was finished. I may be too eager though. If someone ran into the bathroom while I was in midstream and shouted "GOOD JOB COLIN! SUCH A GOOD JOB!" I'd probably clam up too. However, I cannot explain the pride I feel when he does what's expected of him without my asking. I know just how Michael Phelps' mom felt in '08.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 3

Well, we've been going about this all wrong. I read a for-real guide this morning and if he's 12 weeks old, we're about four weeks late to the game. He needs to socialize with at least 100 people! He needs to be able to sit at the mere flick of my wrist! He should land an F-16 on the deck of a carrier in choppy seas!

First things first: the crate. Apparently I'm supposed to keep him in there for hour shifts, and bring him out to eliminate at the desired spot. I use the time after to constructively play with him by teaching him to sit and come and how Napoleon shouldn't have invaded Russia, then put him in the crate for another hour shift so I can control where he eliminates. Fun and love clearly have no place in dog ownership.

But wait—I thought keeping a dog in the crate all day made him neurotic? And won't the whole housebreaking thing go a lot better once he's fully vaccinated and I can set him down outside? And if he doesn't get into the right preschool, can he still get into Yale?

I believe my dog thinks his name is "Omar let's go potty," and that I am a strange man who lives in the corner surrounded by pee pads.

Tonight was bad. After systematically crating and uncrating him all day, and occasionally getting to reward him for peeing in the right spot, he peed in his crate. The whole purpose of the training is to keep him in a den-like area where he definitely won't eliminate, so we can show him where we do want him to go. If he violates that principle, the whole ordeal today was for nothing. We melted down. We saw our future, and it was Amy and I at 70, standing deranged over a confused 40-year old puppy croaking "go potty! go potty! go potty!" Sensing our weakening grip on reality, Omar came to the corner where we were huddled, rocking each other, and climbed all over us.

We'll keep him. For now.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 2

Last night wasn't quite as bad as we thought it would be. Given the setup of our apartment, we were forced to accelerate the crate process and have Omar sleep in it. He'd seemed pretty comfortable with it through the day. We kept it next to the bed so he'd feel close to us. I guess it wasn't quite close enough though, because once we all settled in he started whimpering. I read the material. I knew what to do. "Omar, settle," I said in a gently commanding voice, while giving him a reassuring nudge through the crate. That's all they said you needed to do to get him to quit.

He didn't quit.

He got progressively louder. His whimpers turned into weird, strangled howls. Frenchies are not known for resounding barks, which is one of the many things that makes them great apartment dogs. But I learned last night they are known for warbling, glass-rattling howls. Slightly less than my desire for him to stop so I could sleep, was my desire for him to stop so the neighbors wouldn't hear him.

Amy got on the floor to settle him, and it worked. She got back into the bed, and in came the grunts and whines. She got back down, stayed longer, then came back. Again, the sounds of a puppy slowly being disemboweled. This time she brought her pillow and laid down a while.

This went on until 8 AM.

While our puppy certainly fell below expectations his first night, my certainty of his savant status has not diminished. Based on the brief reading I'd done before getting him, I was expecting worse. I don't know from where these dogs the authors spoke of came, but I have to assume they would all recognize Michael Vick on sight. We spent the day cradling him while he looked lovingly in our faces, playing with him with all the toys we bought him, watching him pee in every room of our small apartment, and marveling at the amount of odor that can fly off of one small dog turd.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Puppy Journals: Day 1

We spent last night in MA, four hours from home, so we could pick up the newest addition to our family this morning. We've been obsessing over French Bulldogs for at least five years now, and last weekend we decided to make the jump. Within hours we were in touch with a breeder, and the next day we Skyped with a puppy. Five puppies, actually. They were docile, sweet-faced animals who simply sat and watched their owner scoot her laptop around on the floor so we could see them. They weren't jumpy. They weren't shy. They were perfect.

Meteorology is not perfect. After a late start and a long visit at the breeder's house, surrounded by snorting, grunting, happy Frenchies, it was time to hit the road and get our rental back before its 3 PM deadline. We had about 30 minutes of wiggle room in our timeline, and we knew the living-evidence-of-climate-change-late-October-freak-nor'easter wasn't going to blow in until the evening, so we felt OK. A little worried, but OK. Amy sat in the back of our odd little Nissan Cube (seriously Japan?) and held Omar in her lap.

As it happens, that nor'easter blew in about four hours early and ten inches heavier than expected, and our lovely country jaunt through New England turned into a nightmare race against time and the elements to get this stupid purple box on wheels back to Budget in time. I was constantly doing math. "At this rate, for a few hours, I'll be x minutes faster than Google Map's estimate. We're in good shape." Our wheels skated along the slowly building slush. Semis would splash by, wiping out my visibility for a sphincter-wrenching three seconds. But all I had to do was turn back and see Omar's face, serenely looking back as if to say "you got this, strange man who I now love with all my being."

We hit the last traffic jam just outside Manhattan at 2:53. I knew we were done for. But this puppy hadn't made a sound all day. He was perfect. We parked the car and ate the charges for a second day, and spent the rest of the day with our dog. He spent his time flinging himself from one lap to another to the corner of the couch. Sure, he peed on the floor a few times, and sure, when we tried taking him outside he just shivered in the LATE OCTOBER SNOW and looked at us as if to ask, "What did I do wrong?" But he never whined. He never barked. He never chewed anything.

We read the books. We knew the problems ahead. But clearly, we had chosen wisely, because our puppy is in no uncertain terms a genius.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.