This is what the dog in question kind of looked like, complete with the eyes that blaze red like the fires of hell.
You never really expect to get bit by a dog these days. It’s not like it’s completely unthinkable or anything, it’s just that when I compile a mental list of bad things that could happen to me when I leave the house (as I’m sure all of us do) I find myself worrying more about getting hit by a car or shot by a crazy person or asked to sign an anti-GMO petition outside a supermarket. I never really worry about getting bit by a dog because that’s the sort of bad thing that always happens to other people, like mailmen and unlucky joggers.
I guess I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security, since most of the dogs I know are more wimpy and neurotic than I am. Service animals aside, dogs in the city don’t serve any real purpose outside of entertainment for their owners, and since animal bites aren’t most peoples’ idea of a good time I just sort of take it for granted that their bitier instincts have been bred out and replaced by an insatiable love for pig ears.
As you may have guessed, this misconception about dogs cost me pretty dearly.
A couple of weeks ago a friend set me up with a job interview at the West LA startup he worked at. I was hopeful as I drove to the interview – I’ve been out of the job game for some time now, and if nothing else this interview would provide me with something I could tell my friends about to try and fool them into thinking that I want to be a productive member of society again.
I parked in a garage adjacent to the building, signed in with a security guard in the ornate lobby, and rode a clean, quiet elevator up to the floor my friend’s company was on. The office space was airy and open, full of 20somethings pecking away at their laptops while sitting on a variety of chairs, ergonomic exercise balls, or beanbags. Arcade Fire was faintly playing through somebody’s MacBook speakers.
Close your eyes and try to picture the sort of environment in which you’d expect to get bitten by a dog. Compare that picture to the scene I’ve just described to you. This ought to give you some sense of how prepared I was for what was about to happen to me.
An underling ushered me into an empty conference room, where I sat on an IKEA chair at an IKEA conference table until my interviewer, the woman who would be my immediate supervisor if I were hired, entered the room, closed the door behind her, and had a seat across from me. I can’t remember her name, but let’s say it was Mrwwxb.
Mrwwxb and I spent 15 minutes or so having a lovely chat about my resume, my background, LA, Portland, the state of online media, and the company’s history. We were about to start in on talking about what my job duties would be when the door behind me rattled. The sounds of snorting and panting ominously seeped in from under the door.
“Oh, that’s just my dog – don’t worry about her,” Mrwwxb sighed. “She’s a little terrier and she’s super protective of me so every time there’s somebody she doesn’t know in the office she freaks out and tries to bite their ankles and stuff.”
Now do you see how this story is coming together?
This probably should have been a warning sign for me, but all I took away from it was, “Oh, there’s a small dog in the office.” Mrwwxb did say that her dog tried to bite peoples’ ankles, but when I heard it I assumed it was a joke or a figure of speech or a lighthearted exaggeration, because if this woman’s dog actually did have a habit of biting strangers she obviously wouldn’t bring it to a stranger-rich environment like an office, right?
I mean… Right? Right?
Eventually the dog quit nosing at the door, and after another 15 minutes or so Mrwwxb’s questioning was complete. All told, I feel like it went pretty well. Mrwwxb left to jump on a conference call while another employee showed me around the office floor on my way out. During the tour, Mrwwxb’s dog was nowhere to be seen.
I was standing near some couches, talking with my friend who’d set me up with the job, when suddenly I felt a sharp, stinging pain on my left ankle and turned around to see a little black terrier with its fucking jaws clamped onto my lower leg.
This came as a surprise, particularly because there had been no barking whatsoever before the bite. The main reason I don’t concern myself with dog bites is because when a dog starts barking at me I usually take that as a cue to put some serious distance between myself and its mouth, and I would’ve done the same thing in this situation had I been given a chance. Instead, the dog just snuck up from behind me and brutally attacked without warning like some canine George Zimmerman.
So to recap, I got bit by a dog – a thing that would be unexpected under almost any circumstances – during a job interview – which if you asked me to list the circumstances under which dog attacks might occur would still be pretty close to the bottom of my list.
A gaggle of coworkers descended on the dog and dragged it away, while another gaggle showered me with apologies. I found myself at a loss for how to respond – on the one hand, I was still technically being interviewed, and it would behoove me to leave a good impression.
On the other hand, though:
One of the main reasons human beings started living in cities and developing societies in the first place was to protect themselves from animal attacks, and here I had just been sneak attacked by an aggressive, stranger-hating dog that for some reason had been allowed to roam freely throughout a public office space. This wasn’t just a slight against me; it was a slight against 7000 years of human civilization.
In the end, I decided not to loudly accuse everyone in the room of destroying civilization. I accepted their apologies through gritted teeth and limped out of the building as quickly as possible, scanning all of the shadows on the way to my car on the off-chance some other employee had decided to let his pack of wild dingoes play in the parking garage that day.
I never heard from the company again – nor did I ever receive any sort of apology from Mrwwxb – but that’s fine by me. As much as I’d love to be gainfully employed, I'd rather it be at a company that is at least capable of managing a small dog.
Truman Capps will gladly burn any bridge that has a crazed, biting dog at the other end of it.