This one is not exactly based on anyone who I’ve ever seen. The backstory is that a few days ago this appeared in the elevator in my apartment building.
It was underneath an inspirational quote—I think it was from Einstein, but the photo I took of it with my phone came out too blurry to read.
So this, I suppose, is my reaction to being a rat in someone’s metaphysical experiment. (Yes, I had to do a quick Google search for Indian names; the translation of the acronym is purely coincidence.
Charlene knew something was up. Her Building Happiness Index Meter read only 123.
The Building Happiness Index Meter appeared to the untrained eye to be nothing more than a small digital readout showing a tidy three-digit (or, Gaia forbid, two-digit) number. Charlene’s eye had been thoroughly trained, and she knew what a sophisticated device it was. Charlene had named it Bharadwaj after sensing its strong masculine and south Asian energy; the name meant “a lucky bird,” which wasn’t really appropriate, but Bhim is an Indian name meaning “fearful” and that would be much, much worse.
Bharadwaj measured energy patterns and brainwaves and stimuli from the ether, and converted all of those tidbits of data into a single, easy-to-read number that could serve as an instant guide to how happy the building and its inhabitants were. It was powered by Charlene’s will and two AA batteries, and she had only had to replace the batteries twice. That was all the proof Charlene needed that Bharadwaj was something pretty special and legitimate.
123 wasn’t really that bad of a number, but it should have been higher. It had been 129 just an hour earlier. Charlene attributed this to an experiment she had just begun. To inspire joy, she would post an inspirational quote in the elevator each morning.
The first one had gone up just a couple hours earlier. On a bright yellow sheet of paper, she had typed (in that delightful Comic Sans font) “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.—Confucius.”
She’d posted it, and the reading went up by eight points. Now the reading was dropping, and that meant something was wrong.
Charlene dashed to the elevator to check on her experiment.
Some nasty, disrespectful, selfish, hateful Philistine had…
Charlene took a deep, meditative breath. She must not judge, or respond in anger to whatever negative emotion had caused this. She returned to her unit and created another copy of her quote. Then, she created a second sign:
“Beloved cohabitators: This is part of an important experiment that I am running, which may very well lead to pure joy for all humanity. Because of that, I must ask you not to remove this sign. Doing so would be horribly inconsiderate, and if you feel that such a thing is appropriate, you may want to examine your own soul for signs of irredeemable darkness. This is the kind of things that people who kill puppies do.
She posted her quote in the elevator, with the explanatory sign underneath. After a contented glance at her handiwork, she returned to her unit to prepare some herbal tea.
Bharadwaj read 132.
All was well.