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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

I decided something important tonight. I want a robot. But more importantly I decided what I want that robot to do.

Ralph and I are watching some Star Wars spinoff that is so boring I spend most of it thinking things like what color would my light saber be? And why aren’t their clothes dirty? And I wonder if their robots do laundry. And if I had a robot, what would I want it to do?

So basically it’s what I’m going to fantasize about tonight. Clearly I am old. On any given day when my deepest fantasy is having a robot do the laundry, you know that horse isn’t going back in the barn. He’s going straight out to pasture.

I presume my robot will be bound by the laws of physics, and also limited by the legal system. It probably couldn’t, for example, fly me to the grocery store or stand in the middle of the street and stop traffic so I could make a left turn.

It could, however, do the grocery shopping for me. It would be a smart robot. And if they can have self-driving cars these days, there is no reason my robot couldn’t drive itself to the store with my list in its little robot chip of a brain and get my bananas and sliced cheese.

In fact, since my robot would have the benefit of all those gigabytes or terabytes or infinitysomethingbytes or whatever we’re calling them now, my robot would never ever walk right by the blueberries and completely forget to pick them up.

In fact, it would have a memory bank of every ingredient and its precise quantity in my house, so that when the time came to either buy the butter or skip it because surely there are two boxes of it in the refrigerator and surely we wouldn’t have used it all up on biscuits last week, the robot would have the correct data to know it should be added to the cart.

Given its data banks, my robot would ensure that I was never unexpectedly out of salt or toilet paper.

I love this robot already. I feel like it needs a name. I’d call her Alice except probably my Alice would get jealous and furiously shed more leaves in protest, so I will call my robot Stella. Obviously if my robot is this smart and efficient, she is a woman.

In addition to being a super shopper, Stella would never throw a spoon into the garbage and a napkin into the sink. If I had Stella a year or two ago, I might still have eight spoons today.

She would wash, dry, and put away my dishes exactly where they go and never wedge the glasses into the bowls because she was too lazy to move the jars to the top shelf.

Oh yeah, and she would be able to reach the top shelf. I presume robots can do a little transform-y action and extend an appendage to reach corners, and behind beds for the hair band you dropped, and into upper cabinets for the jar you keep there but for some reason seem to need every five minutes so you stick it where the glasses should be which is why the glasses are always wedged into the bowls.

Stella would bring order to the madness, and never lose patience with the process and fling herself on the couch to blog about it instead of cleaning up properly.

She would also stack my plastic containers nicely and arrange the lids in such a way that they would not come raining down on my head every time I open a cabinet. She would never ever hurl them in then slam the door shut and fling herself on the couch to blog about it.

Stella definitely does housework. In fact, she follows me around with a mop and broom so when the flour spills down the front of the cabinet and the oil down the front of the stove and I open the refrigerator even though my hands are covered in meatball because I can’t believe after all that I still forgot to take out the eggs, she will tidy up so I never have to step on a stray slice of onion or nearly sprain an ankle because there is a puddle of canola oil on the floor where it splashed out of the frying pan.

Now that I think of it, Stella will be very good at taking orders so when I forget to take the eggs out of the refrigerator we can preempt that whole disaster because I can say Stella, please get four eggs for me.

And even though she will know when to replenish my supplies, she sadly won’t be able to read my mind, so when I’m in the middle of trying to make a quiche and have grated the zucchini and am elbow deep in eggs only to realize I did not, in fact, buy the mozzarella I was supposed to buy, probably because I was too busy blogging about it, I can say Stella, will you run to the store and get me some very specifically whole milk mozzarella?

On any ordinary day Stella will keep the house actually clean, not just clean in the way a house is clean when you find out maintenance is coming to replace your HVAC filter and dear god you cannot have them come in with the place like this.

Stella will dust baseboards and blinds. She will vacuum under couch cushions and behind the TV where the tumbleweeds usually are because it’s where you hide the forty billion wires you don’t want to look at and inevitably they collect enough dust to make you wonder if they are cocooning and about to turn into giant mechanical moths or something.

She will not only do the laundry but fold the shirts in that way where the front is facing out so you can see which shirt is which instead of having to unfold sixteen black shirts before you can find the one with the picture of the mountain on the front.

And she won’t forget the sheets in the dryer until 11pm when you’re exhausted and want to go to bed but realize the sheets are in the dryer and not only that but they bunched up into a wad and aren’t dry anyway.

Wow, Stella has earned her keep and we have barely left the kitchen.

Stella will come in handy when I sit down for the tenth time but still forget to get my tea mug off the counter. Then I can just say Stella, please being me my tea mug, and while you’re at it I really did want those oat muffins even though I was too lazy to make them, so could you just whip me up a batch?

She will find the remote and my keys. She will put my wallet back in my purse after I take it out for some reason, so that I never end up at the checkout in Target with no way to pay.

She will remove the large spider from the corner of the ceiling and place it peacefully in the tomato plant on the balcony.

She will remember to water the tomato plant on the balcony.

She will locate my headphones and glasses. She will locate Ralph’s headphones and glasses. She will find my phone when I put it [somewhere] but have turned the ringer off so I don’t have to listen to it ding and bing and bzzt with alerts and reminders all day. In fact I won’t need any more reminders because she will remember it all for me.

For instance, when I leave the house but forget my phone on the kitchen counter even though I’ve spent all morning making sure I don’t forget anything, I can ask Stella to run upstairs and retrieve it, or at a minimum I can rely on her to put the Yeti cooler IN the car so it does not get run over while I go up and get the phone myself. Even better, she can be electronically attuned to my phone so that she can retrieve it and put it back in my hand before any such forgetting ever happens.

I cannot overstate how substantially things have improved since I imagined Stella into existence.

And since I do not want to keep her chore-bound, I will occasionally send her ahead of me to the Cork & Cow to wait in line before they open and secure my bar seat before someone else takes it. As she is a robot and won’t mind standing, she can then hang out as my coat-scarf-hat-purse rack so I never leave anything there and have to go back the next day to retrieve it. In the meantime she can enjoy the conversations around her, or at least record them so I can finally, maybe, actually remember that woman’s name who we met there about sixteen times.

I could think of about a billion more advantages to having a Stella robot but as she does not yet exist and there are still dinner dishes to wash, the sheets are still in the dryer, and I forgot to take the chicken out for tomorrow, I had better call it here. It was a lovely fantasy while it lasted and I hope it has inspired you to imagine your own robot, too. I bet she is very smart and efficient, and can even figure out how to fix that noise your car is making, too.

Photo: some circuit thing I built from an electronics kit Ralph got me. Each activity resulted in something cool when you were done. I think this one did a little light show. No dishes, though.