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Robo Rat

Ever Wonder?

Ever wonder how researchers study our thoughts and actions when we are in different moods? They first have us read or view stuff that conveys those moods. The piece I wrote below, Robo Rat, helps us experience this.

Ever watch an uplifting movie and feel good? Ever watch a depressing one and feel down? Those are doing the same thing. That emotion stays with us for a bit. It affects our thoughts. That is what the researchers found. This is true for any emotion the movie or writing tries to give.

Setting Our Moods

They also found something strange. It does not matter whether we know we are feeling that emotion. For most of us, it happens below our awareness. That is tough to see. There is a technical name for this though. It is called the Velten Mood Induction. That is how researchers run those studies.

What happens though if a “movie” lasts all day? What if it is real? What happens at work? What follows is a piece I wrote in 2000, Robo Rat. People have found it helped answer those questions.

They found it to be a creative commentary on the contemporary culture at work. Some found it applied to our personal lives. They found its true value to be the expression of moods that live on the fringes of our awareness. They suggested I publish it.

Remote Controlled Rat

The irony is that robo rats exist today! They did not when I wrote it though. Here is a short video on them. It is a great setup to my piece, Robo Rat.

So, with that introduction I give you, Robot Rat.

Robo Rat

Robo rats do exist.

Never fear robo rat can make it to the cheese!

A window calls me and shows me a rat in a maze. With an electric buzzer strapped around him, he behaves quite humanly as food rewards his performances. Beyond the electrical buzz, there are the sounds of ringing and beeping. Each sound orders the rat to perform something.

By placing cheese bits in strategic places, he follows a specific path, even negotiates the maze. In this way, he moves balls, blocks and other things to various locations. Success carries him.

Suddenly, my pager’s buzz shatters my daze. A restroom mirror stares at me. My legs hasten my return and guide me through the maze of cubicles to my telephone.

Before I can phone, a ring emanates. Someone’s calling. The receiver arrives at my ear; the instructions fill my head. They stop, the receiver goes home, and I prepare to call. My computer beeps a reminder of an overlooked task. This is my job; the money puts food on the table.

Looking at my watch, I speak silently to myself, “Yes! There’s time for a quick sandwich. I’m in the mood for grilled cheese. I love the stuff.

What’s the difference between a rat and a man?

One can foolishly convince himself he’s not a rat.

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