The Abandoned Station






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My Robot in the Cupboard


Hey there, look at this!

I was looking for a box of sodium-free crackers, but in a great moment of mis-clarity I open the cupboard door beside the correct one, and came face to face with my robot!

It would be a lie to say that I forgot all about it. Mostly forgot about it, sure, but there was always a slice of remembrance zipping around in the back of my mind that sparked an 'oh yeah' smile when I watch a news story on how its kind is going to take over all the blue collar and half the while collar jobs in the coming future.

I'm a t-shirt man, so no worries, robot. I'm not going to get all Luddite on your shiny metal rear end with a rusty shovel.

It quickly adjusted it camera eye and focused on my face, obviously replaying the happy memories we shared in a fraction of a fraction-second (the time it held the skillet, the time it unclogged the sink, the time it passed the butter, the time it synced all the clocks, the time it had to re-sync all the clocks because I thought it would be funny if after it synced them the first time I would change them all to being wrong just to see what it would do).

Before I can even muster a 'remember when?', out it bolts, down from the second shelf in the cupboard, landing like a perfect steel cat on the counter. Then down to the floor like a tiny Olympic gymnast.

I may not have totally forgotten about it, but apparently I'd forgotten what it could do.

No sense keeping such a silent kitchen. I offer it some small talk and it looks at me with its single eye uncomprehendingly, although I know this model has basic comm features.

Then it buzzes like a wrong game show answer.

Come on, robot, don't be like that. I gave you a funky western drawl to your voice, and I would really love to hear it.

But instead I get a pair of tiny steel hands placed deftly on equally steel hips. It would be quite cute, if they underlying message was that my robot was very upset with me.

Id also forgotten how high I cranked up its natural emotion levels.

And how fast it was, too. Running through the kitchen and into my living room.

I called after it, saying it was escaping its safe zone, but now I can't remember if I actually entered those parameters in its systems, or if I just thought in my head that it would be a good idea to make the kitchen the safe zone, and how responsible I was thinking that.

It's been so long, cupboard robot. So long. Too long.

So I casually walk down the hall and take a quick glance at my ever changing photo vine, which was currently displaying a photo of my previous cupboard robot, a beautiful sunset from a recent camping trip, and a hilariously cross-bred dog me and my ex used to own together.

The robot turned a light on in my living room. But it wasn't from the switch for the ceiling light, it was a stranger glow. A lamp then. But I don't have a lamp in the living room (which reminds me, I should buy one next time I find myself antiquing at the nearby farmer's market/garage sale down on Ronson street).

I go through the doorway, and find that my entire work desk was on fire. The laptop, the papers, the arts and crafts supplies, the letters to the B-list celebrities, the folders full of pressed leaves for an art project I've never made time for.

I cry in mental pain and ask why to my cupboard robot, standing beside the flames defiantly, a tiny contained fire dancing on the edge of one of its digits. Clearly not trying to hide its guilt. What a hideous malfunction. I would have to clear my schedule for tomorrow morning and spend a significant amount of time on the phone with the manufacturer, and then prepare a detailed social media post explaining the entire situation as a warning to friends, family, and associates.

I reach for my currently empty vase on the coffee table and take hasty steps towards my open-roof aquarium for a chance to put out the fire and salvage what I could, but as I do my cupboard robot simply he twists his tiny digits and aims the middle one its left hand and sprays some foam on the glowing, dying yellow orange mess of office supplies and memories until it's no longer alight, just smoking and smoldering.

And for clearing the smoke, he has a tiny fan in his psoterior to blow it towards the nearby open window.

Maybe it's just the sort of person I am, maybe its that I was excessively worried about what could have happened to my fish and my collection of first edition stuffed penguins, but my initial reaction to this was simply sweet, sweet relief.

Thanks, cupboard robot!

It turns back to me, an unmistakable mechanic scowl on its carefully designed visage.

-I can't stand this. I can't stand you. I know what I was designed for, I know where I'm supposed to remain until you need me. But there's nothing in my operating procedures that require me to respect and serve my purchaser with unquestioning loyalty. So with that, you need to get your life together. You need to stop thinking about your ex. You especially need to stop thinking out loud about your ex at three in the morning when you come in here and pour yourself a bowl of sugar laden cereal. You need to exercise more. You need to actually finish one of the seven books you're in the middle of. You need to lay out a real schedule about how to plan your days around work, not just when you can go to one of the swap meets in Mackelson Park with your neighbour. And you need to buy me some higher quality batteries!

With that, my cupboard robot stomps back through the living room, going past me without giving a glance, down the hallway, into the kitchen, and climbs up the side of the oven to get onto the counter and into its regular spot in the least used pantry door in the kitchen.

Thanks for the cold cup of reality, cupboard robot!





Did you know? At one point in history, buying something was a sacred exchange of goods and cultural values