Grinds My Gears


Roger’s job was to fix things that broke. He was a repairman, and he had been for 40-some years. He’d seen a lot of things in his life, repaired a lot of broken machinery, but nothing was quite like his current project.

The prototype for iBot had come out a few months earlier, and it was just experiencing its first mechanical failures. Loose gears and a need for some oil. Seemed easy enough to Roger.

But iBot was programmed to be like a human, and humans can be quite sassy—Roger knows that better than most. He’s got four teenage daughters and they are constantly sassing him.

“You know,” Roger started as he began tightening the gears in iBot’s back panel, “Way back when I was a youngster, robots didn’t exist. I mean, they existed in movies and little toys for kids, but the real deal? No sir, that certainly never existed. The toys were pretty cool, though. I never had one myself, but I always thought they looked like fun.”

“Oh, you didn’t [beep] have one? How [boop] sad,” iBot replied. If it could’ve expressed any emotion in its voice there would’ve been an overwhelming tone of sarcasm.

“Yeah, you know, when I was a youngster we didn’t have a lot of money to spare,” Roger continued. “My parents both worked hard but I was the youngest of eight kids, so there wasn’t a lot to go around, if you know what I mean.”

“One of [boop] eight? Your [beep] parents must have spent a lot of [beep] time in the bedroom,” iBot said, trying to get under Roger’s skin.

“You mean hiding out from us? Yeah, they did. Back when I was young, we were pretty crazy. Man, those were the days. I wish you could’ve seen things the way they were back then. It was a simpler time—things were just… good,” Roger said. He continued yacking about the good old days while iBot patiently waited for him to finish tightening the gears.

“This whole world is so crazy now, there’s just so much going on all the time,” Roger lamented. “I can hardly stand it! I can’t believe this is the only world you know. That makes me so sad.”

Finally, iBot lost it.

“You know, [beep] Roger, you are really grinding [boop] my gears.”

“Well, don’t I know it! That’s my job, iBot,” Roger answered, oblivious to iBot’s annoyance.

“That is not [boop] what I mean. You are driving me [beep] crazy with your [boop] stories. Can you fix the [boop] gears in silence? Please?”

Roger never spoke another word to iBot, so offended were his sensibilities.