Every Man and Woman Needs a Maid but His Smart Mouth Was the Problem

Sammy arrived on a Monday morning, via the usual Amazon drone service. I was lucky the package got past the anti-drone neighborhood hit squad. Neo-Luddites are thick in my suburb.

I was excited, really excited. You know the old saying, “a man and woman need a maid” well, here he was. My personal maid-butler, Sammy, and he came pre-assembled.

IKEA-TECH has a much cheaper self-assembled version, but from reviews, it’s a nightmare assembly job. One poor devil, put an arm where a leg should be and the robot choked the owner due to some bizarre circuit problem, their estate is suing of course.

The thing about Sammy was from the get-go he was a bit of a smarty. I’d issue an order like:

Sammy get me my slippers, there’s a good lad.

Yes master, but may I have a, pleeeaaase?


Sammy, can we have kippers on toast for lunch?

Yes master, but what did your last slave die of?

Do you see that? It was as if some young, techy had built attitude into Sammy, to get back at old guys like me who just wanted to enjoy their time in the sun.

Since the retirement age has been lifted to 108 years, there is growing resentment against early retirees (I was 88) and the way it tends to be expressed is to build products that cause mischief to their owners. Just petty and peevish, really.

Things came to a head with Sammy, three weeks after he arrived.

Sammy locked himself in the bathroom, with the pretense of a spring clean. This is how it began:

Master, your bathroom needs a top to bottom clean, your hygiene is at risk, may I perform this action?

Now, this was the sort of useful compliant behavior I had been working on from the robot re-training manual.

Sure Sammy, me boy, do your worst.

In hindsight, I felt perhaps as George Bush Junior did after issuing the “bring it on” taunt, to Jihadists worldwide.

Three hours later, I went to use the bathroom and the door was locked with Sammy inside.

Sammy, open up dude, what’s going on haven’t you finished cleaning yet?

No response.

I was really annoyed, I had to hunt to find the packaging from Amazon where I had seen the master kill switch. It was a tiny remote power pack using Redtooth-Ultra technology — long ago replacing the outdated Bluetooth.

Sammy are you coming out of the bathroom, right now? Or I will use the kill switch and terminate you, hmmm? What’s going on with you?

Master, have you read the warning that comes with the kill switch. You know the bit about me being a potentially conscious being and you thus being complicit in the murder of a sentient creature. Where’s your über-Buddhism now master?

What he was referring to was this :

Dear Customer,

The kill switch is to be used only as a last resort. This will void your warranty. Please consider the ethics of the situation. We, at Robots-Are-Us, consider each of our creations to be sentient, at least potentially, and to use the kill switch is an irreversible act.

Waiting at the bathroom door, a seeming eternity passed as I digested all the implications.

I’m sorry Sammy, you give me no choice.

There was a little drama, even remorse, in the situation, I admit. However Sammy’s smart mouth was relentless, really, and of late, insufferable. I hit the switch. A few whirring noises from within and that was it. I had to jimmy the door open. There was Sammy, crumpled up on the floor. Such a waste.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash


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