Here's what happened next.
The phrase "monkey business" is normally meant metaphorically -- usually in reference to the mischievous actions of a child or short person. But what if it wasn't? What if it literally referred to a business owned and operated by monkeys?
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"Sounds like a lot of people would die."
For reasons known only to me and my demons, I had to find out what would happen. And with my access to Cracked's supply of research monkeys, I had the means to do so. So this past weekend, I loaded a van up with macaques, capuchins, and I think a couple of chimps, and went down to the light industrial district. There, after a bit of work with a research crowbar, we got inside what turned out to be the warehouse of a machine parts distributor. I then let the monkeys loose inside the premises with instructions to run the business as they best saw fit, with the understanding that I would review their performance at the end of the weekend.
What I didn't tell the monkeys -- and to be honest, I don't know how much they understood of what I did tell them -- was that I would be monitoring them undercover, by posing as a job applicant.
"Uhhhhh, oooh oooh ahh ah?"
Here's what happened next.
The interview process at a monkey business is incredibly casual. As a person posing as a monkey posing as a job candidate, this gives you a distinct advantage, in that you don't have to worry about them calling references, or reading your resume, or really understanding anything that you're saying.
"WHY DO YOU STILL HAVE WORD PERFECT ON YOUR RESUME?"
On the downside, it turns out that monkeys don't have a great grasp of employment law, which means that illegal interview techniques and physical touching are commonplace. Although this would expose a human business to lawsuits, only monkey law applies to monkeys, and that is a high-pitched and confusing law that a human will find tough to navigate. Your best bet is to simply allow the monkeys to grope and clamber over you, shrieking back at them in a firm and confident tone about your ability to add value to the team.
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As in human interviews, avoid displaying fear or showing up covered in loose bits of food.
Monkeys are very curious, and very fast learners. The basic operations of a machine parts distribution business are totally within their grasp.
Those operations literally being "grasping boxes from shelves."
Unfortunately, more advanced operations, like completing paperwork or actually sending those machine parts to customers, are a little more difficult for a monkey to do. This will lead to operational bottlenecks, inventory troubles, and lots of shrieking.
Also, some feces-staining.
By the standards of the monkey business community, a huge pile of feces-soiled boxes would be considered a raging success. But, curious about whether more was possible, I used my position within the experiment to interfere slightly and train some of the monkeys on the next step in the distribution process. But again, bottlenecks established themselves within minutes, this time in the form of four of my co-workers crashing our feces-stained delivery truck into our six other delivery trucks.
Mistakes can be costly to a business -- not just in the form of the immediate expenses for repairs, but also in the damage inflicted on relationships and reputations. Human businesses often put incredible effort into their quality management processes, using international standards like ISO 9001 and extensive internal auditing to ensure that all their employees are consistently following the correct processes.
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For example, this is a non-compliant yawn.
Believe it or not, this actually occurs to an extent within monkey businesses, and with far fewer boring PowerPoint presentations. Although monkeys can't document their processes very well, this means that they all follow their instincts. And because those instincts are invariably grabbing things and shrieking, they end up behaving pretty consistently. Something as complicated as a multi-vehicle, multi-monkey accident in a monkey supply yard can be resolved exactly as you'd imagine -- in this case, by grabbing and shrieking until things become much, much worse.
Middle management is often the least-respected part of a human business because it's filled with people who don't appear to actually do anything, and yet aren't paid well enough to own helicopters. There's a skill to middle management, they tell us, but they also won't say what that is.
"Not telling anyone what I do. That's it. That's the only trick."
You'd think, then, that if there's any area of a business that the insertion of monkeys could improve upon, it'd be middle management. And you'd be completely right. Monkeys will naturally form themselves into small groups with dominant senior monkeys, and although that might appear to manifest itself simply as more shrieking and pulling things off shelves, that's fine.
That's the process working.
But this informal management style doesn't really lend itself to long-term planning, instead being a lot more reactionary. In human terms, we'd call it "putting out fires." And we do the same in monkey terms, although now there's often a literal element to the phrase -- like, for example, when the monkeys, excited and goaded into action by an unusually large monkey, managed to crash one of their delivery vehicles into a propane tank.
You would think that with all of their experience working in dangerous settings, like the jungle and medical labs, monkeys would have an innate respect for proper health and safety procedures. But no, you were wrong, you idiot.
You're an embarrassment to your ancestors.
In a human business, health and safety standards focus heavily on training, giving employees the knowledge they need to prevent dangerous situations from occurring. Monkey businesses, with their more reactionary mindset, don't handle training nearly as gracefully. A monkey fire drill is as likely to cause a fire as it is anything else. Consequently, monkey businesses are far more prone to mishap, calamity, and other turd-flinging disasters. Emergency situations are handled not by well-trained monkeys working with the proper equipment, but again, by shrieking and pulling things down off shelves. And sometimes, yes, an unusually tall and now pretty frightened monkey will find and distribute fire extinguishers to other monkeys, but as they lack the training to do anything but shoot these at another monkeys, this is rarely of much use (other than for physical comedy purposes, obviously).
"Put your paws up in the air!"
In a human business, poor operations, yard fires, and impromptu foam parties are often a sign of poor governance at the top. That's less the case in a monkey business, as even the most prudent of monkey executives will be unable to handle a workforce of monkeys. Because again, they're monkeys.
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"This was just a bad idea from the start."
In this particular case, it was unclear if any monkey at all was in charge, although the ones on the roof of the factory had the best vantage point (and the largest and firmest turds, which they helpfully rained down on passersby). When the authorities eventually arrived and sorted everything out, these senior monkeys displayed a surprising degree of corporate sophistication, refusing to answer any of the questions posed to them. Which was good, because a lot of those questions were pretty hard.
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Questions such as "Why?" and "In God's name, why?"
Unable to answer these questions myself, I fled into the night, as is my habit, and considered the experiment I'd just conducted. It seemed to me that monkey businesses have a number of problems, and that such problems were obvious in hindsight. But it also seemed to me that many of the worst mishaps -- the fire, the the fire response, and the placing dozens of monkeys in a warehouse in the first place -- were actually the result of my own actions. The startling conclusion, that humans were the monkeys all along, left me angry, frightened, and even a little feces-stained myself.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and an embarrassment to lots of people's ancestors. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
Another problem with monkey business is that monkeys love porn, so prepare yourself to supply them with ample monkey spanking material. See how we know in 5 Shocking Ways Monkeys Are Just As Dysfunctional As Us. And read about Felix Clay's own monkey companion in 4 Pros And Cons Of Having A Personal Helper Monkey.
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