The radio show had an interview with a robot. I heard it early in the morning when I was taking a shower and getting dressed so I cannot give you the details, but suffice it to say this was supposed to be a household robot -- one you could keep around the house to do chores for you. I can hardly wait.
I want an all-purpose robot. I want it to be able to fix my car, the one my son nicknamed Mike, which has recently broken down three times. The last time, a fire started under Mike's dashboard, sending up wisps of smoke and dimming the lights. I surmised something was wrong.
That little mishap cost me $286.18 in parts and labor, all of it precisely detailed on a bill that an archeologist could not read. There is a $90 charge for an illegible item and a $45 charge for a part I thought I had in the toilet and some other things with technical names without which, I was assured, my car would not run.
The other car (no nickname) is also in trouble. The fender is falling off, the muffler doesn't muffle and the buzzer that sounds if the door is open works even when the door is closed. Either me or the car has got to have a wire cut.
The faucet in the bathtub broke. It was due to break, the plumber said, because it is almost five years old. It took two trips by the plumber to fix it (at $45 an hour), not to mention some emotional energy expended by yours truly (nicknamed Sucker) in a fruitless claim that a faucet should last more than five years.
But oh, when my robot comes my troubles will be over. It will vacuum the house and dust the bookshelves. It will answer the phone and be home when the mailman comes with a package. It will even do windows. (I insist on a robot that does windows.) It will rake the leaves in the fall and trim the hedges in the summer and mow the fine collection of weeds and crabgrass that passes -- if cut low enough -- for a lawn.
But above all, my robot will be trained (programmed) to be a combination plumber-electrician-auto mechanic. (Maybe I will have it programmed to be an analyst, too: "How-do-you-feel-about-your-mother-Richard?") My robot will be able to fix every little thing around the house. He will install faucets and fix the toilet that until recently trickled endlessly -- a situation I coped with by cleverly closing the door.
I will send my robot down to the cellar to find out why the pilot light on the gas heater keeps going out. He will go up to the roof and find the hole through which water leaks into the ceiling and from there, I think, into the toilet, making it run all the time. He will fix the garage door, sharpen the lawn mower so I no longer mug the grass, and be sent downstairs at night whenever I hear a strange noise in the house -- programmed to think he's George Raft.
My robot will be programmed to fix the car and he will, through his cute little voice box, describe the problem without using technical terms. He will say things like, "The thingus is broken" or "the whatchamacallit needs to be fixed" and on no account will he look down his nose at me simply because I do not know a thing about cars. Finally, he will have a little printer from which will come a bill that will say all the work is on the house.
While I am at it, my robot will also be programmed to do basic dental work. I will set up a little office for him and not permit him to have the National Geographic magazine. He will not have Muzak and he will always tell me that my teeth are almost perfect but that I still need to drink more coffee and brush less.
I want everyone to have a robot like this. Then all the plumbers and all the auto repairmen and all the other ripper-offers of the world will either have to go on unemployment or become social workers. Either that, or they can all go to the Soviet Union and then that country will fall apart.
This is my fantasy and a wonderful one it is. It kept me chuckling all morning, putting me -- as the prospect of revenge always does -- in a wonderful mood. It was not until I got to work that I realized that even in my version of heaven, the devil will get his due.
Someone will have to repair the robot.