Good news, my friends! Or so I thought when the publisher informed me that after three months of steady complaining, my demands for a design assistant had finally been met. Through the services of a mail-order temp agency, I managed to procure a laborer, sight unseen, skilled in the graphic arts, hailing from Olympia, Washington. Yes, I know of that city's reputation. But I would soon learn that Olympia has far greater problems than a multitude of shrill, unwashed, gender-inspecific activists.

After I pried open the box, unpacked and bathed my new charge, I was shocked. The first thing one notices about Jen Davison is that one must gaze steeply downward to do so. Though she has walked this earth for 24 years, she has the stature and surly bearing of a 12-year-old, mine-toughened urchin. I found this deeply troubling.

Please, do not mistake my distaste for prejudice. I am convinced that Our Lord God made little people like Jen for a reason, however inscrutable it may be. Perhaps He set them to cavort among us so that we might clap our hands in delight at folk stories of capricious fairies and elves. Perhaps they are meant to remind us of ourselves as children, so that we might give thanks we survived to adulthood. Who can say? I don't pretend to know or understand what goes through His head. The point is that until recently, I have found small people disturbing when sighted alone, and the stuff of nightmares when gathered in great numbers.

But I was wrong in my hesitance to embrace this remarkable little dwarf! As the days passed, she impressed me with her grim, senseless determination and fiercely independent demeanor. Honestly, she is like a little Shetland workhorse! By the end of the week, I came to recognize that Jen was something much like a normal person, only freakishly small. Today, her Lilliputian stature troubles me only when I accidentally glimpse her interacting with a standard-sized human.

So welcome to the Mercury, Jen. With so many tragic accidents of birth already under your tiny belt, I feel the Mercury offices, with its petty dramas, chronic ineptitude, and unattractive humanity, should pose scant problems to your diminutive mind and wizened, lozenge-like fingers. Work hard, and learn well, my miniature assistant! One day I will leave the Mercury for greener, more intelligent pastures, and you, Jen Davison, will be in charge of helping my successor.