Sofia pressed down on the little, red, square button and muted the output from ES-0037's containment unit. While this quelled the ceaseless chatter from the little box on the desk that broad cast over her desk intercom, it did nothing to stop the tiny tirade that cascaded from the petite figure at workstation five. He continued on in a fit of furious squeaking and shrieking. He was likely to wear his vocal cords down doing this, which might have induced welcome break in his ranting, was not good for lab morale. Furthermore, a hoarse subject was useless for this experiment. Intervention would provide an example to the other subjects as well, she supposed,
"Oh-Oh-Three-Seven," the collie addressed the little figure in the cage in front of her. She did not need a special device to be understood; her voice carried well enough without digital assistance.
"You have been previously cautioned that the intercom is to be restricted solely to experimental reporting and for emergency use. As it is neither such case, you are not to mis-use lab equipment."
Her comment brought up another storm of incomprehensible squeaks and less than pleased gesturing. An expected response given this was a repeat of similar stimuli.
"Oh-Oh-Three-Seven; if we stopped work every time someone scratched their knee or got a paper cut we would be as productive as the FDA. While I understand you may be inconvenienced, your compliance is appreciated. You will be given a chance to submit complaints at the conclusion of the study," she smiled widely. She had a record of receiving very few complaints, at the conclusion of a study.
However this did not abate ES-0037, who tugged at his whiskers and squeaked something particularly offensive and derogatory, if she was reading his hand gestures correctly. It resulted in the quenching of her plastic smile, prompting her to continue;
"Your attachment to your previous designation, Derek, is troublesome, Oh-Oh-Three-Seven," she tapped a pen on the counter before him as she leaned in. Subjects seemed to respond more positively towards face to face conversation. "You should really be more grateful regarding your systematic designation. It will greatly improve your experience during this evaluation period,"
"You see, I know quite a few Dereks. There is a Derek in the mailroom; there is a Derek among the janitorial staff. I believe there is even a Derek in the new coffee shop across the street. However, without proper context, it would be difficult to tell whom I was referring to in conversation, wouldn't it? I cannot just assign them a number, because we do not do that to people, Oh-Oh-Three-Seven,"
"It would be very problematic if I were to mistake you for some other Derek when writing a report, Oh-Oh-Three Seven. No one would know that Oh-Oh-Three-Seven is a.." she paused to lift her billboard sized clip board up to examine the descriptive series of bullets in the upper right corner the page ".. Male, approximately 27 years old - Brown Eurasian Squirrel with previous experience as a cafeteria worker at ZakuraTech. I think it would impress upon you the importance, that when preparing your daily nutritional supplement I am aware that Oh-Oh-Three-Seven is quote 'deathly allergic’ to pumpkin. It would be simply dreadful if I assumed you were some other Derek, who did not require special dietary preparation each day."
As he quieted down and let go of the cage nervously as she continued, "The importance of the numerical order is also important, Oh-Oh-Three-Seven. It means I can distinguish you from Oh-Oh-Seven-Three who is currently classified as " Biohazardous Waste - awaiting disposal". And it is important I do not accidentally input Oh-Three-Oh-Seven - whom I understand can survive the fall from the desk to the floor."
"Goodness could you imagine that?" she laughed – those long canine jaws splintering into a black chasm lined with ivory swords, over which flowed a merry, molten pink tongue. "Accidentally forgetting to put you back in your safety-enclosure? Imagine slipping and falling due to mishandling... impacting the ground like a peach dropped off a skyscraper," she mused – lifting her pen up and letting it drop the two and a fraction seconds to the floor with a click-clatter that could be faintly heard above the sucking fans and hum of electronics of the lab. "It would be quite the mess, Oh-Oh-Three-Seven,"
The squirrel stood there in a welcome, hushed silence, staring up at her. Shock? Fear? It was compliance just the same. It was a positive behavioral change and she was sure to reinforce it with a slow, noticeably cheery "Thank you for your co-operation," spoken with that well-practiced, plastic smile. As she collected her pen, she made a note to include this conditioning folder later. The thought added an entertained flick to her tail as she sauntered back to her work station. Side-projects were always a welcome break from the tedium of administrative tasks.
Artwork Credit to www.weasyl.com/~fauxlacine
Story written by me.