Screwtape The Third: The Pursuit of Happiness

My Dear Wormsap:

Thank you for the report on your activities topside as a Client Services Agent (CSA), which I have just received and read.

Do not take this assignment as a demotion – at least, not yet. All of us who are in, or aspire to be in, management should embrace any opportunity to hone the skills that got us noticed by, and selected for, the chain of command. Yes, you have done this before, and yes, the work is both arduous and dangerous. But, as you have been so fond of reminding me, this is H.E.L.L.

Regarding the client who is experiencing a ‘dark night of the soul’ – I wonder what became of the demon who coined that phrase – you have correctly identified this as an opportunity for us, but it is also a time of peril, for both the client and yourself, as the Adversary’s agents will also be lurking. Extracting any contract from this client, never mind one that yields the best returns for H.E.L.L., will require attentiveness and subtlety on your part.

As is prominently and repeated set forth in the Client Services Manual (CSM), the happy client already is contracted to us. Such clients have either achieved, and accepted as normal, an immoral ascendancy over other humans, learning skills acquired from us as part of their contracts, or have become numb in their acquiescence to H.E.L.L.-ish circumstances, through the efforts of our Client Community Managers (CCMs) who have brought these sheep into their folds. The literary character Winston Smith is an example of the latter case, which our agents have done a masterful job of getting our clients topside to ignore.

Periodically, as you know and are now experiencing, clients encounter personal or social circumstances that undo their happiness. These encounters may induce a client to review, and even attempt to revise unilaterally, contract terms. It is the business of the CSA to guide the client down one of the three paths available:

* Restore the client to happiness, according to the terms of the original contract, and reinforcing its terms and conditions in the process;

* Instruct the client in the principles and techniques of bitterness and resentment, and restructure the contract accordingly;

* Assist the client to fulfill the contract forthwith, and bring the soul home to its purchased suite in H.E.L.L.

Procedures for all of these actions are set forth in detail in the CSM. Which procedure to adopt will depend on the skills of the CSA and the depth of his understanding of both the client and the circumstances.

The grave danger is that a client subjected to the pressures of a reversal will refuse to be either happy or despondent. Such clients may become sufficiently aware of themselves and their surroundings to perceive that their pursuit of happiness is really our pursuit of them. They are likely to act in ways that do not put their own emotional gratification first, but instead in ways that meaningfully assist the human community. In so doing, they terminate any contracts they hold with us, and may well become active agents of the Adversary.

I do not need to tell you that losing a client in this manner is an irrecoverable disaster for the CSA responsible. The skilled – and fortunate – agent may yet retrieve clients in the early stages of this progression by getting them to focus their attention, not on whatever missions they may have adopted, but on the emotional gratification they get from the ‘sacrifice’ or ‘martyrdom’ associated with those missions. The improvised contracts of the first type that result from these efforts are, perhaps, imperfectly satisfactory when compared with the returns from other instruments of H.E.L.L., but they are certainly better than no contract at all.

Here at the main offices of the Northwest Region, all is well. Better than well, in fact, as we have heard little from His Sublime Lowness, Mr. Printphubar of the East Asia subregion, since your departure for the topside assignment. We are pleased to not have to deal with his repeated attempts to intrude on our space and otherwise disrupt our operations. We choose to interpret the fact that this cessation and your reassignment occurred at the same time as a remarkable coincidence. Your success as a CSA, especially with respect to the ‘unhappy’ clients which we’ve just discussed, will be, of course, of critical importance in our maintaining this ‘coincidence’ hypothesis.

Service! Screwtape III

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