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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2245533
An unreliable robot tries to make a major business decision.
         It’s early in the morning, and I have no patience for corporate jargon, especially when it’s being spewed by an incompetent robot. If I had had my coffee, maybe I would feel differently. If how I felt last week was any indication, though, my patience has taken a long vacation without me. Will he ever come back? Who knows. Thankfully, without said patience, I don’t care.

         Kristina flutters around the conference room screen, pointing to this graphic and that, flipping slides, talking faster than any human ever should. Chaotic. Didn’t anyone ever teach her how to talk to a real human? Must have missed that part during her assimilation.

         “Now, this graphic shows that our backlog is good, our personnel will have work for the next several months at least, but we still need to figure out where work beyond that is coming from. I’m thinking we should try to break into the automotive industry. Yes, yes, I know it’s big, but--”

         “No.” I interrupt. I can’t believe she went over my head to pitch this plan again. “We’re not an automotive firm, and we never have been. We would have to hire way too many people to even be able to accept our first contract. It’s too high risk.”

         “Excuse me, Sir,” she spat. Who programmed the attitude? “If you hadn’t interrupted me, I would be able to explain to you my ideas for mitigating those risks. We wouldn’t have to hire anyone. All we need to do is align ourselves with the correct market, and reassign some robotic resources.”

         The other five suits in the room lean back in their plush office chairs, eyes wide, flicking between me and Kristina. They’ve seen this all before. I roll my eyes. Relying more heavily on robots is about the worst idea I could fathom.

         She continues through her presentation, chirping “align” and “personnel” and “forecast” like a bird on cocaine. I hate that word, “align.” It’s been used at least 450 times in this meeting alone, and it adds almost no value to the content of this conversation. If they were going to insist we had a robot on the team, the least they could do was make sure she had something original to say to break up the corporate mumbo jumbo. She’s stopped gesturing, though, which is her way of indicating she’s pissed. The empathetic side of me (yes, he does exist) doesn’t blame her for being frustrated with me. I would be, too, if I were her. But I also wouldn’t be suggesting such an asinine idea. You reap what you sow.

         The meeting ends, and she beelines for me as the rest of our colleagues hurry to leave.

         “What was that about?” She hisses.

         “Your idea is bad. If you can even call it an idea. More like insanity. You really think it would work to have a firm like ours to jump into automotive? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

         “You know just as well as I do that microfluidics are used everywhere in microelectronics. The automobiles around now have way larger electronics packages than any other industry we’ve been considering growing into and they—”

         “If you’re going to repeat your presentation to me, I’m not interested. My ears are bleeding from the first time around,” I interrupt again. They told me I shouldn’t interrupt anyone, especially the robots. I can’t help it, though. I have zero desire to hear all of that again.

         “Your close-mindedness will be the end of this firm.” Is there steam coming out of her ears? Awesome.

         “Kristina, I—”

         “No. Now I’m the interrupter here. You think you can just talk down to me just because I’m made of different equipment than you. You think that just because I’m an android, I’m an idiot. Well, I’m exponentially smarter than you. I’ve done the math. All of the androids are smarter than humans.” The steam appears to be getting thicker, billowing out of her ear canal and making it look like she was wearing earmuffs of white smoke. It’s comical, really.

         “Kristina, I don’t care that you’re a robot.” This was false, but if I say anything like that, HR will get me again. I really don’t have the patience for that. It was risky enough to call her a 'robot' to her face. “I care about you giving me decent, honest, and practical ideas, yet you get up there and squawk for 45 minutes about an idea I have already rejected. You expect me to change my mind? When have I ever changed my mind on anything? You wasted my time, and everyone in here’s time. I said no last week, and I’m saying no today.”

         “You’re wrong.” She crosses her arms. The steam coming out of her ears has definitely changed to smoke. It’s coming out in large pulsating puffs. It will always surprise me how oblivious they are when this happens. She won’t even remember it.

         “Well, if I’m wrong, then I’ll answer for it if the time comes. If you’re around you can give me a big ol’ ‘I told you so.’ ”

         “What’s that supposed to mean, 'If I’m around?' ” The smoke puffs graduate to a stream venting out of her ears, nose, mouth, and from around her eyes. Her eyes roll back into her head, and her entire body convulses in erratic spasms, the motors going haywire.

         I don’t answer her question. She can’t hear me anymore, anyway. She collapses on the floor, her systems powering down and entering emergency mode. It happens to all robots when they undergo something “traumatic.” They told me it happens to protect the programming and memory so when there’s a reboot, it’s like nothing ever happened. You’d think they could raise the bar for “traumatic” to extend beyond work place tension. They’re unreliable junk. Something that’s unreliable may as well be a paperweight, not the lead on a major business decision. There's no room for them in this rat race.

         She’ll be back next week squawking about some other ridiculous idea. I’ve gotten her angry enough to shut down twelve times now, and every time she comes back she fixates on some other way to put more robots in power. It’s become our little game. She spews idiocy, I fight back, and her emotions shut her down, proving my point. It’s both the best and worst thing about this generation—They shut up when they get annoying, but are never able to stick it out when you need them under duress. How she could suggest robots be the lead on any massive industry breakthrough when she can’t even make it through a meeting with me is beyond my comprehension. When she did her math on who was smarter, she probably should have figured out what that word means first.

         Maybe they’ll come up with an update soon, but I hope they don’t. They can make us hire robots, but they can’t stop us from having a little fun with the sensitivities they give them. Gotta save my sanity in this corporate hell hole somehow.

         I stare down at her, laying on the floor, one eye half closed, the other open and twitching as the final electrical signals run their course. I sigh. “I’m going to get some coffee. See you next week, Kristina. We’ll do this again.” I step over her body, and out the door.
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