Not every staff member sits alone with a cup of tea on a reading day. Dan is lucky enough to have the companionship of his photogenic buddy, Murray. Dan provided this report on a recent day of application reading.
When a reading day happens to fall on an utterly gross winter day like today — not cold enough for snow, but featuring a cold, driving rain throughout — staying inside, at home, feels like good fortune. There’s plenty to love about the work itself, too. As I’ve written before, it’s a humbling and rewarding experience to get a glimpse of things our applicants are doing, and to imagine these folks doing them as part of the Fletcher community. That said, I’ll confess that a full day of nothing but reading can be a bit of a slog for the sheer volume of the task. Every Fletcher application deserves full and close attention, so it’s important to take some mental breaks to stay fresh.
Regular blog readers know that a crucial part of my typical reading day is my wingman Murray. Being full of myself, I always assume it’s a treat for him to have some company on a day when he’d otherwise have considerably less. It also gives me a chance to observe up close the things that occupy his day. There’s sleeping, a few walks outside, the odd mouthful of kibble, and on a clear day, a steady rotation around the living room floor following the shifting patch of sunlight. In short, Murray’s life requires a multi-disciplinary skill set, which may sound familiar to a Fletcher applicant. On several occasions, in need of the aforementioned mental break, I’ve found myself evaluating his potential as a Fletcher applicant. A quick review of his case:
International experience: Murray originally hails from Atlanta, and while Boston and Atlanta can sometimes feel like different countries in my experience, this doesn’t strictly count as international. He’s spent considerable time in Canada, though, and is an eager beneficiary of the occasional piece of broccoli from Chinese leftovers. Bottom line: he could improve in this area, but he’s made some inroads.
Foreign language ability: It’s hard to judge what his native language is, to be honest. He’s not a great barker, though he displays a wide array of dialects including growl (just try to take his toy away), moan (usually when getting a particularly good belly rub), “boop” (my best transcription of the high-pitched sleep chirp he periodically emits, presumably when dreaming of large bowls of meat), and huff (we all drink water a bit too quickly now and then). The issue here is that Fletcher does not currently offer equivalency exams in any of these, so it remains a concern.
Professional experience: This is really an area of strength. In addition to being an accomplished napper, Murray has mastered several toy categories, among them ball, stuffed animal, treat-in-paper-towel-tube, and other kind of ball. He also exhibits advanced licking ability of the sort that can only be learned in the field. The one potential criticism here is that he may be too much of a renaissance man. Previous evaluators have noticed that he can be prone to easily losing focus and shifting interests rapidly.
Academic ability: Perhaps the biggest hurdle in his candidacy. As a dog, Murray has no traditional academic experience, although his “report cards” from the vet (a real thing, I swear) are consistently strong.
Murray’s prospects are ultimately uncertain, though you, applicants, should feel free to gauge yourselves against these criteria to see how you think you might measure up. He’ll be set either way, though, as he currently has a sweet rent-free living arrangement, and a basically full-time job. He can be my wingman anytime.