By Matthew Wallenstein
There was the doggy daycare. I needed something to pull in some money when I was between tours with my band. Mike who lived down the hall used to work there and set me up with it. It was 20 minutes away when the L train was working right, but that was rare.
The night guy always came in late, Which meant I got off late. He would come in with a bag full of Oreos and jerky and other snacks that would drip or leave crumbs on everything as he sat watching reality TV in the front of the shop. I would be putting the dogs away, finally getting them calm and they would start going nuts again over the food smells and loud noises.
That Christmas I, being the low man on the totem pole, had to work. It was off the books which is how they got away with $6 per hour. I figured with time-and-a-half holiday pay, plus whatever the Christmas bonus was, I would make out okay.
But there was no time-and-a-half, there was no Christmas bonus. It was me in the back with the dogs and the other guy up front dealing with the nonexistent customers. So Christmas day I was breaking up fights between Tess, a timid pitbull and Shiba, a Shiba Inu. The owners of that one were original enough to name him after his breed.
Shiba could not be kept under control. He had these little needle teeth and had bitten me a few times over my short stint at the doggy daycare. Everyone who worked there had at least a few nightmare stories about him. A week earlier he had trouble pooping. It was stuck half in his butt and half out. I had to pull it out. It was almost the length of his whole body. He gave me a look afterwards like he did it on purpose, like he just wanted to show me he could.
A few hours into my Christmas shift a sewage pipe burst and the place started to flood. Gallons of brown water, thick with chunks of things and toilet paper gushed from a hole in the wall. The guy from the front of the store rushed back to move all the dogs from the rising water as I mopped it up as quickly as I could. This lasted four-and-a-half hours till the night guy showed up his usual forty-five minutes late.
It was very cold. The sky was flat and grey, everything was grey. The trains ran slow and were very sparse due to the holiday. I got home, clothes reeking, soaked through and half frozen from the walk between the subway and my apartment. No one was home but me. I let the wet clothes drop onto the floor of the kitchen then went into the bathroom to shower. I left my clothes there for two days. I read and ate beans in my sweatpants.
I never returned to the doggy daycare. I sold underwear for the next few weeks before tour. I had done it before but it was a bit of a hassle. I would make the post, and if people emailed me I would send them a picture of me in the underwear. Then depending on what they paid, either deliver them in person or mail them out. For every one person who actually wants to buy them, you get ten who just want to tell you all the things they want to do to you, or who just want the picture of you, or waste your time in one way or another.
Later I heard that the manager came in on one of her off nights. After taking tab after tab of LSD, she had it in her head that the dogs were being held unjustly by some dark force. She woke them all up yelling about it, then let them out of their crates and opened the doors of the building. The night guy had to call the other employees, only one of which showed up, and they chased the dogs around Williamsburg trying to catch them.