A Day in the Life of a Human Lab Rat

At least the human kind get paid

| January/February 2000

It is 6:35 Friday morning and I'm watching cartoons with 31 other men. Some of them are still in their underwear, alternately gazing up at the television and down at their bare feet, muttering, "Coffee, coffee . . ." Others have already showered and combed their hair and are now sitting up straight, with their backs to the television, watching the clock across the room as if it were a descending deity. The rest of us are hunched over, glaring at Muppet Babies through half-closed eyes. I look down at the piece of paper in my hands. My gaze rests on the third line:

3. I wake up fresh and rested most mornings.

A voice crackles over the loudspeaker: "Number One—Rupert. Lab." This is the first thing the voice has said since it told us to wake up, to get out of bed, to sit in these chairs. And now everyone glances over at Rupert as he stands and makes his way past the pool table, past the Super Nintendo station, past the dining tables, across the gray room lit by fluorescent bulbs.

9. My daily life is full of things that keep me interested.