The Talking Monkeys: The Great Experiment

(Zoom out from center of frog’s eye to reveal over-the-shoulder shot of a telemarketing phone center cubby. Raul, our narrator, is on shoulder of one of the Member Care Advocates’ jacket, having hitch-hiked from his place of relative safety and comfort in the jungle, where last we saw him to This Place of Horrors that even laboratory test animals call “Where the Lab Rats go to Die”).

*Please note that Raul is wearing glasses, and a headset with boom mike, and reading the narration that you see here before you….

“So, what, did you think you were rid of me that easily after such a clever introduction?”

(Frog looks over eyeglasses with raised brow as he extends his left hand, palm up, imploringly as he slightly lowers his script. As he continues, the camera pans the cubby.)

“There is a computer, a flat-screen monitor on a cantilever arm, a physical telephone, (up to) three authorized and approved photographs, approved versions of about eight separate campaign scripts in sheet protectors on single ring binders hanging everywhere, a small dry-erase board, a drink mug, and half a landfill’s worth of food wrappers balled up like tumbleweeds.”

(“Even this is being read by your narrator, Raul, the Frog, who slightly whispers with the dispassionately detached impartiality of an Animal Planet voice-over”)

“Now I understand why they adopted the new, lower cubbies…no place to hide, further enhancing the concept of televised anonymity…you are not special…hit the green light…we see all, we hear all…and we are timing everything you do second by second…focus on this week’s stretch goal…too many personal breaks…you need to cut down on your fiber and drink less water if you intend to meet expectations…and if you don’t, the sides are too low to even hang yourself. God! I haven’t felt this sense of overwhelming hopeless Despair since that time I snuck into a high-school biology lab.”

“Observe the Telemarketer. Not the portrait of a happy, well-adjusted individual. His face is slack and devoid of enthusiasm. This was supposed to be a summer job, an interim or interlude to get him by until Something Better came along…it didn’t. How long can you fall before you hit bottom? He used to Dress for Success; suit and tie, the Full Monty. People used to mistaken him for Corporate…now he just barely skirts the minimum allowable limits of the dress Code. For over six months, his cubby sported a picture of a quote in German that bore the translation ‘Work shall set you free’ before someone realized it was a photograph of the entrance Gate to Dachau, and made him take it down.”

“When I first saw Charles, he had just come to visit THFWS (The Home for Wayward Souls). He had a desperate, exhausted look about him. That was right after he had his nervous breakdown…funny thing, though…call centers like these are one of the few places you can either get or keep a job when no one else will have you. The work place of the Doomed. It didn’t take long for Charles to become a regular at THFWS, or to learn how to channel his disdain for his occupation into an invisible contempt for his addiction to letting his temporary present circumstances determine his state of being. Somehow, the money seemed to come from unanticipated sources when he needed it most, and the rest of the time, he improvised, adapted and overcame (or repaired) with that cavalier air of detached compassion he learned so quickly from Ash, who had worked at the call center a few years ago, while he was trying to get THFWS financially afloat.

“That, by the way, was before Kali launched her website…it went viral in a big hurry…brilliant concept…it still not only pays the bills (even the legal fees), but may yet make the center financially independent…Yoga, Tantric, Kundalini, or Zen Eroticism…unflinchingly explicit…very sexy stuff for very spiritual people…controversial, and extremely popular, but, I digress….”

“Charles is going to participate in a ‘program’ (experiment) utilizing pre-recorded loops of anticipated ‘pivots’ using his voice, to be manipulated by ‘qualifiers’ who will not actually speak a word to any ‘targeted’ members ever. The theory being that three ‘Qualifiers’ can support one ‘Closer’ at any given time if allowances are made, as needed to ‘segue’ one ‘Closer’s’ lead to another closer by means of what sounds like a ‘warm transfer transition’ (also pre-recorded), allowing the second ‘Closer’ to take over if the first closer is busy. It all sounds ‘Live and In Person in RealTime’, but it’s all covered by probabilities based on research data that generally confirmed that at present, the vast majority of the people who actually answer unsolicited telephone calls from unknown origins are so dim-witted, drugged, drunk, senile and/or delirious, ignorant, and gullible that there really is not a great deal of need to present arguments in a Logic-Driven method as long as they are presented ‘Persuasively’.”

(“Raul continues to provide the voice-over,” quips the handsome and witty Raul until he is stopped by a voice in his headset…”Yes Sir…I understand…no more embellishments or improvisation on my part…I just thought ‘handsome and witty’ helped keep the thing light-hearted…no, no one gave me any such authorization…I understand…it won’t happen again.”)

“Raul blinks several times, wipes his glasses, and shakes his head as he reads ‘but the most bizarre part of this whole thing is that the ‘Qualifiers’ that are being trained are Chimpanzees and Bonobos. This is an experiment that has been years in the making, first training the primates to sign, then to respond correctly by listening for key words in what appears to be random speech by pressing a switch that is backlit with a particular icon associated with those certain key words at the next available opportunity when the member pauses. The key words are associated not by logical identification, but rather a hierarchy of needs that those words represent on a subconscious level. Anybody gullible enough to answer a telephone survey has contributed to that research on one level or another. The chimp doesn’t need to understand a single iota of what any of it means in order to simply associate a spoken word with a task, but they can quickly weed out the answering machines (press a telephone icon, thereby leaving a pre-recorded message), dead air, (different icon, scheduled for call-back at another time at least two hours later), and hang-ups that occur during the initial introduction. After that, the first few remarks made by the target are to be answered by pre-recorded messages that vaguely sound like they answer the question, but are really ‘set-up lines to ‘soften’ the Target while introducing the ‘Need’ by use of the Hierarchy outlined earlier. Properly applied, the Hierarchy is the equivalent of jangling your keys to distract a crying baby. In this respect, even the most successful and seasoned salespeople are by comparison, ‘loose cannons’ if they try to use Logic to manipulate targets that are NOT logic-driven at all. If the target gets through a specified series of responses, they are ‘handed off’ to the ‘Closer’. Although this ‘experiment’ appears to have legitimate value, (since primates are owned; they are not hired, and have even less rights that any human toiling in a ‘Right-To-Work’ state like Florida, so their only cost is represented in housing and maintenance) it would be naïve to assume that the real purpose of this project is even related to telemarketing, no matter how firmly their executives will proclaim otherwise, because they actually believe it as well. One corporate moron will receive ‘leaked’ information that Management is looking for something or another in the form of a pilot program to…(fill in the blank) because it needs to look like it came from within, even if its origins are much higher than appearances would lead one to believe. There is no better way to conduct any research than for the test subjects to believe they are participating in something that is totally unrelated to what is actually being measured. Add to that the possibility that the best way to keep top secret research secret is to conduct it as if it were researching something of much more mundane subjects.”

“Think about it…train an animal to take commands, to respond with sign language, to perform specific tasks to monitor computerized responses to specific stimuli…that does not question authority or make random moral judgments…that has faster reflexes, better hearing, and is at least five times stronger than any man…that does not expect a retirement or better benefits, will accept any ‘working conditions’ and will never try to set up a Union…and can be autopsied at any time if it is deemed necessary…who might be interested in something like that? …Who indeed…Remember, that when the Mercury Space Program was being created, the Primates outperformed the Humans on so many levels that it was finally decided to use Humans for the benefit of public opinion and interest.”

Raul looked like he was starting to recall those memories of that high school biology lab.

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