“Guaranteed to cut your housework in half!” Rita read the newspaper advertisement. Yeah, right. The only way to cut my housework in half is not to do half of it. She chuckled.
She read it again. “Why spend all that time doing mundane household chores when Spiffy can do it for you. No more rough, chapped hands from being in water all day. No more backaches from pushing the vacuum cleaner. Never have to clean your shower or tub again. Spiffy can change your life. You can’t live without Spiffy. Don’t wait. Call now for your free trial offer.”
Rita shook her head and laughed. People will fall for anything.
Tossing the ad on the kitchen counter, she grabbed her purse and car keys and left for work. Throughout the day she couldn’t get the advertisement out of her mind.
In the lunchroom Rita talked to Sandy who shared the cubicle next to her.
“Do you ever wish you had more time to do things, Sandy?”
Sandy laughed. “You know it girl. With three kids, a husband, and this full-time job, I barely have enough time to wake up each morning and get here without being late. More time, what’s that? Hey, if you know how to get more of it, let me in on the secret, would ya?”
Rita dumped her empty soda can into the trash. “Well, it’s just me at home, but I get tired of the everyday chores.”
“I hear ya.”
“Have you ever thought perhaps robots could help?” Rita asked as they headed back to their cubicles.
“You mean something like the Jetsons and that robot maid they had—Rosie?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Sure, Rosie would be great but unfortunately what we see in cartoons isn’t reality, Rita. I really doubt a robot could do everything for us anyway. But hey, we can wish, can’t we?”
Rita nodded and entered her cubicle. Yeah, it’s probably just too good to be true.
The rest of the afternoon spreadsheets and data entry filled Rita’s time. Finally arriving home that evening she walked into the kitchen, put her purse down, and threw the car keys and mail on top of the advertisement on the counter. As she ate dinner, she opened and read the mail, but the advertisement distracted her from her usual evening routine. It was no use. Rita called for the free trial offer that was guaranteed to change her life. Now I’ll have time to do the things I want to do.
The next weekend Rita was up early to start the tedious house cleaning chores before her scheduled tennis game. She took the vacuum cleaner out of the closet but decided to tackle the bathroom first when the doorbell interrupted her. With cleaning gloves on, Rita opened the front door to find a large box on her doorstep as the deliveryman drove away.
“Oh, my goodness, my order is here already,” she said.
Struggling to push the box inside the entry way, Rita looked over her shoulder to make sure none of her neighbors were watching. This was going to be her secret.
After taking Spiffy out of the protective wrapping, Rita read the instruction booklet in detail. This is strange, she thought, looking up as the robot stared back at her. The robot is watching me while I program it. I guess I’ll get use to this.
“Okay, let’s see what you can do, Spiffy,” Rita said pushing the start button.
Immediately Spiffy’s eyes blinked and its arms moved up and down. Ka-clink, ka-clink.
“Hel—lo,” the voice spoke slowly. “I’m Spiffy and I’m here to help you. I’ll start by vacuuming.”
Rita stepped back as Spiffy turned and immediately retrieved the vacuum cleaner. She watched in amazement as Spiffy plugged the machine into the wall socket and began vacuuming.
“You don’t need to follow me,” Spiffy said. “I can find my way around your house.”
Rita marveled at Spiffy’s quickness. Within fifteen minutes Spiffy finished vacuuming, unplugged the vacuum cleaner, wrapped the cord, and replaced it in the closet.
“Should I work in the kitchen next?”
“Uh, yes, that will be fine,” Rita said.
Rita sat in the overstuffed chair in the living room. Through the doorway into the kitchen she watched Spiffy work. Ka-clink, ka-clink. She was so engrossed in watching a robot at work she lost track of time and her ten o’clock tennis game. At 10:04 Judy called.
“Hey, girl, where are you? Our game starts in 15 minutes.”
“Oh, Judy, I’m so sorry. I’ve been sidetracked this morning, but I’m heading out the door now.”
Rita rushed upstairs and changed into her tennis outfit. Dashing through the kitchen she barked instructions to Spiffy that the bathroom should be next.
“See you in a couple of hours, Spiffy,” she said opening the door to the garage. “And, Spiffy, please stay inside the house.”
Returning from her tennis game several hours later, Rita was pleased with Spiffy’s efficiency. Everything was done. The house was tidy, and even a load of clothes was in the washer.
“The ad is right,” she said. “Spiffy is amazing. I don’t think I can live without her.”
Several weeks had passed and Rita was still thoroughly enjoying her new helper. She had more time for tennis and shopping with her friends. She was more relaxed and even her attitude at work was better.
Life is great. I don’t have to do a thing. Spiffy does it for me. This is the best investment I ever made.
A few months passed. Rita was always ready to party or shop with her friends whenever they called, but her friends weren’t calling as often. They were too busy and didn’t have the time that she had. Rita realized she didn’t have anything to do at home anymore because Spiffy did everything including cooking.
An underlying emptiness plagued Rita. She missed being able to take care of things herself. Even with a busy schedule she realized she had enjoyed the mundane chores of life and missed that.
Rummaging through her desk drawer she found the paperwork on Spiffy, but the guaranteed return policy had already expired. She couldn’t get a refund or send Spiffy back. Rita was stuck with Spiffy. What she had thought was the best investment was turning out to be the worst. Even when I had to do everything myself, I was happier.
Rita despised Spiffy and it wasn’t long until her resentment and frustration overtook otherwise logical reasoning.
No one noticed the scraps and piles of metal or the discarded hammer crammed into the open trash can next to her car that week.
* * * * * * *
The next morning a faint ka-clink, ka-clink was heard somewhere in Rita’s house. She turned over; looked at the clock, and sat straight up in bed and listened—the vacuum cleaner was on and coming down the hallway.
“Don’t ever do that again,” Spiffy said as she passed Rita’s bedroom.