Customer Service

June 4, 2018

 

Robert locked the bathroom door. He leaned against it, digital tablet clutched tightly to his chest. Privacy. Away from the watchful eye of Her. He had to be quick; if he took too long, she’d come knocking on the door, checking up on him. Always so concerned.

 

He unlocked his tablet and opened up the digital user manual. He hadn’t read through it upon purchase. Perhaps he should have. He scrolled through the pages.

After reading a few sentences of a chapter, his eyes would wander and he’d have to drag them back. He couldn’t make sense of the technical jargon. Why give out an instruction manual if not even the average man could follow?

 

He came to the end and found the number for customer service. A real person would help him better than the manual. He tugged his phone out of his pocket and hastily punched in the number.

 

“Hello,” said a calm, feminine voice after two rings. “Welcome to the Loving Wife customer service. How may I assist you today?”

 

“My wife is broken.”

 

“Would you please elaborate, sir?”

 

“She isn’t working.”

 

“Is she fully charged?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Have there been any glitches or bugs in her programming?”

 

“Yes. No. I’m not sure.”

 

“Would you please elaborate, sir?”

 

Robert swallowed a frustrated groan. “She’s acting—she’s acting like, like a person.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, she scolds me for having a second helping of dinner. She sets my schedule every morning and she won’t let me have more than a glass of wine a day.”

 

“This is unusual?”

 

“She’s supposed to do what I say, not the other way around.”

 

There was a pause on the other side of the line before the voice continued, “Sir, I can assure you that this is perfectly normal. Your wife’s cognitive abilities are like that of a child; she is incredibly adept at learning social cues and human behaviour.”

 

“Learning?”

 

“That’s right, sir. Each wife passes an advanced Turing test before being deemed suitable for purchase. She’s learning every day.”

 

Footsteps echoed on the other side of the bathroom door. The phone almost slipped from Robert’s fingers. He licked his lips and inhaled. “How do I turn her off?”

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

“Robert? Are you in there?”

 

“Just tell me how to turn her off,” Robert whispered into his phone.

 

“You can’t turn us off, sir,” the voice replied.

 

The door clicked open.

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We acknowledge the past, present and emerging traditional owners of the land on which we live and work, the Wadjuk people of the Noongar nation, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

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