When Charles brought home the robot, Annabelle was ecstatic. As soon as she saw the life-size box in which it came, with the metallic grey cover and the white plastic ribbon with which it was gift-wrapped, she knew things were never going to be the same. And she was right.
Charles worked long and weird hours. He felt guilty for leaving his wife alone at home all this time, so to make up for it and offer her some company, he brought home the latest technological wonder that was available in the market. They had just moved to Singapore and everything still seemed light-years ahead of their South-Western hometown. He knew Annabelle would appreciate it.
Annabelle knew nothing could replace a human presence, a physical being with whom she could chat, laugh or simply sit with and look at the window. But a robot might also help her around the house. It was already too big for the two of them and it required constant care.
She considered naming the robot, but feared becoming too attached. So she didn’t. Secretly though, she did think of him as “Rob”.
The first couple of days felt as though she were treading on unknown waters. Having something like this, with a mind of its own, was unprecedented.
Soon, though, she discovered that, like everything, even a robot has its perks.
This one would move behind her and tap her back. Mostly when she wasn’t looking. And when she wasn’t in the room with it, it would yell “gal”, for some inexplicable reason. Annabelle made Charles look into its nuts and bolts, but he found no fault. Neither could the service responsible for the robot.
As much as Annabelle tried to ignore it, it only seemed to become worse. And it was all accentuated by the fact that she kept discovering even more annoying little habits of “Rob”.
One day, she programmed the robot to help her vacuum clean the house. Guests would arrive that evening and Annabelle wanted everything to be perfect for the dinner they would host.
It all started out wrong, though. Instead of plugging in the vacuum cleaner, “Rob” plugged in its own finger causing a power outage in the entire neighbourhood. That lost them two hours.
He would then chase after Annabelle every time she left the room, shouting “gal” and tapping her back at the same time. So much, that it was almost impossible to do any work with this robot around. She locked it in the broom closet, but “Rob” broke the door and escaped, bringing a wooden broom with it, which it now used to tap Annabelle’s back with. At one undefinable moment, Annabelle tripped over the broom, fell onto the vacuum cleaner and onto “Rob”. It started yelling “gal” non-stop now. There was nothing she could do to get it to stop. Charles was too busy to help, but he had suggested plugging its finger in again, in the hope it might do the trick. But it didn’t. It just lit up its eyes blue. It’s lucky it wasn’t red, thought Annabelle, then it would surely look like the devil’s spawn.
She was so upset by the entire episode and the fact that she was wasting so much time with this robot, that instead of making her life easier, it simply made it more frustrating and difficult. That is when she decided to do it.
She took the broom and beat the robot to pieces. It was all screws, components and broken pieces now. She took the vacuum cleaner and sucked it all up. She didn’t need a robot-helper. It had been more of a nuisance than anything.
An hour later, she had completed the preparations and even had the food in the oven.
Just then, she heard a mumbling from the broom closet. As she approached, she trembled as she heard “gal, gal, gal”. Could it be? How had this monstrous contraption resurrected? She opened the door and saw…nothing. Just to be safe though, she took the entire vacuum cleaner out to the garbage. Charles could get her another. Not a robot. A vacuum cleaner. She preferred to be more tired and get things done in twice the time, than have such a horrible pest on her head haunting her every move.
It seems whatever you do or think, there is always something worse.