The first thing you notice about Lennon, ThoughtLab’s cutest employee, is he has boundless energy, a curious nature and that he spends considerable time in contemplation of his own butt.
Correction, the first thing you notice about Lennon is that he is, in fact, a dog.
Lennon is a temp employee, usually showing up to the office on Thursdays. Where he spends the rest of his time is a road map of parks, chew toy boutiques, vet offices, groomers, and opium dens. He is busy, in-demand, a social bad boy, a connoisseur of fire hydrants, a lover of all things cheese, a fearless investor in technology, and a voracious consumer of the written word. Literally. He eats the newspaper.
I caught up with Lennon late one Saturday night. I found him sitting on a stool at the far end of the bar in Tinwell. He was chatting up a rather flirtatious Golden Retriever when I entered. I watched from a distance as they finished up their chat, licked each other goodbye and she padded toward the door and out into the night. He watched her go with a look that betrayed a mixture of deep confusion and abject lust. When the door closed he signaled for another drink, caught my eye and invited me to sit with a subtle “woof”.
I ordered whiskey, Lennon sniffed me, licked my face and when the bartender put a porcelain bowl with a dry, dirty martini with three biscuits in it on the bar in front of him, Lennon took a long lap, looked at me as he slowly crunched gin-soaked biscuit like a character from a 1940s detective novel, and said: “Bitches, am I right?” He chewed his biscuit and thought for a moment. “I’m not being disparaging here,” he assured me, “not using the term like some rapper or drug lord, she’s literally a bitch. A female of my species.” I assured him I understood. “Good,” he said, “then we’re cool.
Our conversation meandered like a lazy river on a hot August afternoon in rural Alabama. We talked women, work, food, the simple joys of chasing your own tail, the nightmare of having your nails clipped and that stupid YouTube video series of owners hiding behind a blanket, dropping it and acting like they’ve disappeared.
“I hate those videos,” he said, “people have no idea the energy it takes to pretend we think you’re gone, to pretend we don’t know that you’ve stepped into the adjoining room. Keeping you humans happy and feeling superior is a nightmare job.” He lapped his drink, put his head on the bar and sighed. “But, what can you do? We all have a role to play.”
Lennon will tell you that his job at ThoughtLab is undefined, evolving, always changing. “There’s stuff on the floor that needs to be eaten, there’s people that need to be sniffed, toys to be chased and sounds to be barked at,” he laps his martini, “those sounds, man …” he laments, “just … mysterious, annoying … frightening.” When I tell him I don’t hear the sounds, he gives me a scoffing woof. “You should be thankful,” he tells me, “I hear them, all of them and they drive me crazy. You’re lucky you’ve got those puny, ineffective ears … you don’t know the half of the shit I hear.”
Lennon has a very non-traditional approach to his work at Thoughtlab. Where most employees sit at desks and stare into computer screens, he prefers to be on the floor, under desks, in people’s crotches. He has never seen himself as the in my chair at nine, out by five sort of employee. “That’s not my scene,” he tells me, “I’m not like the other worker bees, you know, sitting and staring, pounding the keys, getting the job done. I’m just not like that.” he laps his drink. “It stifles the creative energy, it bottles up the ideas, the possibilities, I can’t just sit and do all day. It’s not the way I’m wired,” he says, “also, I don’t have fingers so the whole keyboard thing is just a nightmare for me.”
Lennon is humble when it comes to talking about himself. But with some digging, I discovered he holds degrees from Princeton, Yale, the Wharton School of Business, and Madame Trumble's School of Obedience. “Madame T’s, man,” he says with a shudder, “those were some of the darkest years of my life.”
He gets lost in a memory of his time in obedience school and pontificates the whole notion of obedience. “Am I obedient because I’ve been trained to be so, or am I obedient because I crave direction?” He stares off into the distance, notices his reflection in the mirror behind the bar and starts barking at it like a mad man. I pat his head and he calms a bit. “Do you see that bastard,” he asks me, “he’s just starin’ at me, goading me. If he wants to throw down, I’m more than ready, I’ll rip his friggin’ tail off and shove it up his ass.” He finishes off his martini and barks for another one.
“You’re barking at your own reflection, Lennon,” Tyler, the bartender tells him, “I think you’re done for the night.” He takes the bowl and walks away. Lennon doesn’t argue.
“Probably for the best,” he says as he jumps off his stool and shakes himself all over, “I can’t get too hammered or she gets pissed when I get home.” I ask if he means Cheech and he woofs. I press a little further, asking if she’s difficult. At any mention of Cheech, Lennon’s human, he gets very protective. He looks at me and growls. “Don’t,” he warns me, “just … don’t.”
Tyler returns and puts the bill on the bar. Lennon looks up at it and then at me. “Look,” he says, obviously embarrassed, “I really don’t understand the whole concept of money so …” I pay the bill and we head out.
Outside the air is brisk, fall is finally making an appearance in our desert city. We stand quietly for a moment. Lennon lifts his nose and sniffs the air.
“You smell that,” he asks.
“Smell what?” I say.
“Everything, man, everything.” He gives me a woof and then, he trots off into the night.