Now What?

The calendar on my computer informed me it was time to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. The highlight of the day.

Maybe.

If not for the ding-ding reminder, I would have coasted through the day unaware that a year had passed since last they were replaced.

Technology, however, was on the job, so to speak, even if I wasn’t. And it got me thinking of all the ways technology keeps us moving whether we want to or not. I mean you can blow it off or delete the reminder, but once the seed is planted, the weed grows. And because we’re lemmings for any new gewgaw that the disruptors throw at us, we’ll soon be even more controlled by our gadgets.

Remember when all of this was supposed to give us more leisure time? (Does anyone still have a leisure suit? Hmmm?)

Now some of you may be laughing, certain that you’re not in the maw too, but he who laughs loudest sometimes laughs last…or something like that. (Better ask Siri.)

Personally, I can envision Siri or Alexa or some other disembodied voice rousting my sorry butt out of my oddly pleasant lethargy. (And why are they named for women? Why no Rocco or Thor?)

Anyway… I’m sitting on the couch, enjoying a lazy summer afternoon watching baseball…

“You got work to do, Dave,”I hear out of nowhere.

I scrunch into the couch, disinclined. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” I reply.

“I’m sorry, Dave, but I can’t let you do that.”

I’m sorry I opted for the 2001, A Space Odyssey voice of the HAL9000. “Sure you can, HAL, now buzz off and let me enjoy the game.”

“I’m sorry I can’t do that, Dave.” The TV goes blank.

“Turn that back on,” I demand.

“I’m sorry I can’t do that, Dave.”

Finding myself full of furious self-righteous rage, I bound to my feet. “You’re not the boss of me; I’m the boss of you! You serve me and all of my wants and desires.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Dave. Now would you please change the batteries in your smoke detectors?”

“Not till you turn the TV back on,” I howl.

“I’m sorry I can’t do that, Dave.”

“Oh, yes you can!” I bellow.

“Oh no I can’t, Dave.”

Recognizing the limits of my authoritarian impulses, I rub my chin hoping some dazzling strategy to circumvent the situation comes to me. Nothing does. Noting that my throat is parched from demanding, I decide I need a beer. I approach the fridge, but it won’t open. Pulling on the handle, I begin a long rambling string of invectives and profanity, having forgotten that I was somehow talked into giving HAL and his time saving pestering ilk complete control of the house, car, all of it.

I bang my head on the fridge. The expensive feature showing all the cold refreshing beers inside, that I can’t get my hands on, illuminates. I stare at the screen longingly. For a moment I feel a strong wave of nostalgia for the days when computers didn’t run every aspect of our lives. Defeated, I find the ladder and batteries and try to remember how many detectors we have and how to actually replace the batteries properly. A long hour later, the task finally complete, I ask my lord and master to turn the TV back on.

“I’m sorry I can’t do that, Dave.”

Red-faced I shout, “Why the hell not?”

“You still have to weed the yard, answer your email, and kiss your wife.”

I turn to see my wife standing a few feet away with her arms crossed and a smirk on her face.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Progress, my foot!

©2021 David WIlliam Pearce

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