The three walked silently down the long reflective hall past many, many indistinguishable doors for what seemed like an overlong time. Finally one of the doors flew open and out stumbled a giraffe in a long lab coat. He saw them and stopped in his tracks, bewildered.
“Oh! Hello! I didn’t know we had visitors. I’m the division head here. Did you know that six hundred and seventy two orangutans in seven piles would put precisely ninety six apes in each? I thought you would not. Allow me to show you around or two,” he said, chuckling at his little joke as he continued across the hall to the door opposite the other, which he opened, revealing another giraffe in a lab coat. “This is my disassociate.”
“No I’m not! I’ve never seen this giraffe before in my life! This isn’t the time or the place! I’m not here right now, but you can leave me a message after the beep,” stammered the second giraffe, clearly surprised and upset.
“On second thought,” the division head said, carefully closing the door in the disassociate’s face, “let’s go over here, instead,” and he walked back across the hall to a third door and opened it.
The silence of the hall was filled by a sea of sounds. The giraffe ushered them into a gigantic factory full of humming and buzzing machines, swarming with attendants in white hazard suits and thick yellow gloves. They worked away in all shapes and sizes, with little way to distinguish their species. The division head led the tripartite tour group through the room and between the machines, clasping his hooves together as if he had a firm grasp of the situation, and gazing upward from the top of his long neck as if the ceiling held secret answers no one else could see. He began to lecture the three, presumably to guide the tour.
“Have you ever wondered to yourself: Who are all these fools and jerks? Where do they find them all? Is there some sort of competition to be this stupid, or can anybody do it if they know the right people? Clearly it takes all kinds, and not just the kind kind of kinds. We know our world is full of fools and jerks, yet many important questions remain unanswered. Are jerks merely fools of a certain feather? Are fools always fooled by jerks? Can fools or jerks be contained or counteracted through the proper use of institutions, or is it always a losing battle? Here at Establishment Labs, we are first and foremost in these fundamental studies.
Sometimes we say things, others agree, we put them in practice, and things work out, but there are also times that all this happens and not a single thing works out, sometimes because of fools, sometimes because of jerks, and sometimes just because. Then there are times when we say things and nobody agrees, times we can’t do anything right, and times when we say things as if we don’t mean them, sometimes because of fools and jerks, and sometimes just because. Because of all that, we haven’t completely extracted fools or jerks from anything yet.
We now know, after extensive, objective analysis, that fools and jerks are sub-composed of solids, liquids and gases: food, water and air, irrespectively. Unfortunately this does nothing to isolate them from or contain them within the general population. There are even those who theorize that fools and jerks are indistinguishable from ordinary folks like us, but that could mean…” and here he trailed off, bit his lip, and motioned for them to huddle together, his eyes darting nervously around the room, lowering his higher head carefully down to their level. “We could be surrounded by fools and jerks, right now,” he whispered, “ IN THIS VERY ROOM!”
“HELLO MARSHMALLOW!” sang Joy to one of the suited attendants, who fell backwards in fear and curled up into a ball on the floor, covering masked head in massive gloves.
“Oh, you don’t want to talk to the hands,” said the division head. “They aren’t trained to communicate. We carefully breed them to have no life outside the lab. They live and work in arranged pairs, taking turns working and sleeping. One hand washes the other, feeds the other, sends the other up here to work, and then they rotate. They don’t interact with others, other than that. You should really only speak to me, or any of the other division heads. We divide people and things, and speak for them.”
“Typically, things can’t speak,” said Itsy with a questioning gaze.
“Actually, science, religion, politics, philosophy, history, art and all sorts of things say all sorts of things, but they have to say them through us, the analysts. We specialize in everything. We envision how things are, and put the tune to words.”