The Silicon Valley Voice

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Don’t Monkey with Me

It isn’t exactly a secret — your boss would love to replace you. The problem is anyone who has even minimal skills or brains would never want your job. They would also likely want to be paid a whole lot more than the miserly pittance you call a salary.

So, you’re safe. Yes, you are living proof that the only way to have real job security in this economy is to either be a totally brilliant and wildly productive superstar, or a totally dumb and completely worthless falling star.

Or maybe not.


Recently, a new type of worker has entered the job market. It’s not a computer app that spews out endless endearments to your boss (which is not a bad idea, actually. Don’t you try to make it, Facebook, or my lawyers will be calling.)

Your new competition in the workplace is a monkey — a capuchin monkey, to be exact, and if you haven’t heard about how these cute little fellas are disintermediating the job market, it’s because so far they’ve only been working in the healthcare sector.

No, they’re not replacing doctors, though if I was a dentist, I’d be worried. The monkeys are being trained as companions for senior citizens. It’s a perfect fit. Not only are they fun to be around, but also their dexterity lets them serve as helping hands. Furry helping hands, but helping hands, none the less.

I read about this new species of worker in a Perry Garfinkel article in The New York Times. Titled “Big Love for Little Monkeys That Help People With Limited Mobility,” the article sketches out the training the monkeys receive before being placed with people with limited mobility.

The article quotes Alison Payne, who works in the monkey HR department at Helping Hands, a Boston nonprofit. “I oversee a staff of five professionals working with some 145 monkeys in the program, of whom 50 are currently in our Boston building. We train them up here for up to five years before we match them with humans.”

Clearly, I am not disparaging the efforts of an organization devoted to putting a bunch of slacker monkeys to work. It’s about time these carefree creatures pull their own weight (Are you feeling me, Curious George?) The problem I see for thee and me is that these tiny workers are not only cute and cuddly, but also they are far more capable than we could ever hope to be.

“Capuchin monkeys have dexterous hands and advanced motor skills,” Payne explains. “They can easily be taught to turn pages, scratch itches, turn light switches on and off, help adjust people’s limbs and much more. At about five to eight pounds, they are light enough to sit on your lap but strong enough to handle most tasks. They are often thought to be one of the smartest species of monkeys. They have long lives, of 30 to 40 years; they are extremely social and become very loyal to people.”

As I’m sure you now understand, replacing you with a monkey is a win-win situation for the company. You have the dexterity of a block of granite and the motor skills of a 1919 Studebaker. You will scratch the boss’s back, but only if she scratches yours. (Fat chance.) You will sit on the boss’s lap, of course, but it’s not anything the boss really wants — unless they’re angling for a sexual harassment suit. You’re not social, though when it comes to loyalty, you have it in spades. The only conceivable circumstance in which you would leave your job is if some other employer was crazy enough to offer you 1-cent more in salary.

Think this monkey replacement business could never happen? How many times have you looked at your co-workers and thought, “who hired this bunch of monkeys?” And if you think about, the person who hired them is the biggest monkey of all — your boss.

And it gets worse.

The Helping Hands people place the animals free of charge, Payne says. ” We currently have 35 capuchins living with partners in 13 states. We retain ownership of them so when their human partner can no longer care for them or, sadly, passes away, they return to us here.”

It’s the perfect employee. You don’t have to pay them, and when you’ve used them up, you send them back.

Maybe your company will not jump on the capuchin bandwagon, but if you notice the snack machine has replaced Mounds Bars with bananas, you’re in big trouble.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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