“Hey, I’ll take them if you’re only going to throw them away!” Beth snatched up the slips of glossy paper I’d tossed on the counter top in disgust.
“I had an idea you’d say that, Beth, maybe I should just tell you how I got them before you do anything you’ll regret..?”
The short curvy brunette eyed the slips with a raised eyebrow. They had a discrete logo from one of the cheaper service and repair facilities in the neighbourhood and each was a voucher for a full maintenance session. I could tell my friend was not about to pass up on free technical support without a damn good reason. Although she looked as human as me sitting in the coffee shop, I know she’s an older model and finds it hard to make ends meet as an independent unit. I’m not exactly rich but at least as a robotic spouse I can expect to be properly maintained each month without worrying about the bills.
“Sounds like an interesting story but don’t expect to change my mind. We don’t all have a rich owner to look out for us you know, Susan.”
“Well, you know I’ve been using Richmond Tech for a year or so, they’re cheap but I’ve never had any complaints before now and Colin is not as rich as you always seem to think. Anyway, after last week I won’t be going back!”
Beth sipped her coffee, sliding the vouchers conspicuously close to her side of the counter as if to emphasise that nothing I could say would persuade her to miss a bargain. I launched into my story; glad to have an understanding (plastic) ear.
“Well, I went there for a standard monthly overhaul, all pre-booked. I had the usual little niggles to fix and was looking forward to a full clean, lube and new batteries.”
“You still have that bedroom error all the time?”
“Sometimes, yes, but that’s nothing to do with the story!” I wish I’d never told her about that little glitch, she never lets me forget! “As I was saying, I got booked in, stripped off and onto the bench as normal. There’s a tall brunette technician there called Maddie; I’ve had her do me before and she’s been very efficient so I was happy that it was her who opened me up and got to work. She’s pretty cute and I was just starting to get carried away with her tinkering inside me when ‘Zap’ I tripped my breakers.”
“She didn’t just turn you off?”
“I’m not kidding you, I overloaded completely. She booted me back up straight away and I had a string of system errors and there was smoke everywhere so obviously I asked her what was wrong. She carried on working on my power system - I was on external at the time - while she apologised. She said she’d accidently shorted my main line while she was pulling my old batteries. Now that would be fair enough, accidents happen after all and I was in the right place to get fixed, but I noticed she was glitching slightly herself; stuttering a bit and twitching her head. I was struggling with a few errors of my own at the time, not to mention getting quite horny, so I thought I might be wrong but it got pretty obvious.”
“Not great if you can’t trust the tech working on you sure; but we’re just machines, I don’t see what the big deal is…” Beth is more hardened to the occasional malfunction than I am.
“That’s just the start of it. She stopped glitching out after a minute or so but started swapping out modules in my pelvic systems before she’d even run a diagnostic. She was all cool and efficient but not following any service schedule I could tell. You know what work down there does so I was struggling to keep calm as I tried to talk to her, ‘Excuse me, I don’t think that need-d-d-d-s changing. Look, can you wait a moment; I think you might have fried something when you shorted me out just then…’”
“She just ignored me for a bit then told me to calm down but I was getting really worried by then and gave her some pretty stern words.”
“Yeah, talking back to a tech, really smart idea. I think I can guess what happened next!”
“Easy for you to be smug, you weren’t there! You’re right though. Maddie seemed to have no idea she was malfunctioning and when I kept having a go at her she just muted me. Obviously I was motors off so all I could do was glare at her as she carried on fucking up my maintenance. I was just starting to malfunction badly when another tech came in, apparently she’d had a wireless error code from Maddie.”
“Right, so she fixed the tech and you and that was that right? I’ve heard worse, Susan.”
“Well I think that’s pretty bad actually but that’s not even half of it! The other tech was an old plastic model, they still run them at Richmond. She asked Maddie if there was a problem but she said no, ‘I accidently shorted this wife droid’s power coupling but I am functioning correctly, you must be having another wifi glitch. You can help me replace these sensor modules while you’re here though.’ They both got stuck in between my legs and I thought I’d better try and do something before I malfunctioned completely. I was trying to shout at this old plastic tech and jerking my head around but I figured she must be working properly and would notice there was something wrong. She did notice pretty quickly, I must have looked a right state. ‘This unit isn’t compliant,’ her emulation was as basic as her body. Maddie agreed and they decided that I must have corrupted my AI when I overloaded so Maddie hooked me up to the console right then, jacking into my programming port while I was online!”
“Oh – not good…” Beth was starting to look a little more sympathetic but still eyed the vouchers longingly.
“No, very not good. I froze out obviously but I could hear them talking. The plastic tech was concerned that Maddie was off the service schedule but Maddie just told her she must be glitching and got her to run a system check, standing paused in the service room, while she carried on hacking through my AI.”
“Yeah. She made a couple of dozen changes before the other one rebooted and reported no errors. Fortunately she finally decided that Maddie must be malfunctioning then and turned her off, followed by me. The next thing I knew I was in the collection area with an apology, assurance that all unauthorised changes had been undone and a couple of vouchers. You know how it is, I’m programmed to be happy with the service I get so I just took them and left but now I’ve restored from my home hub I really don’t feel like going back there!”
“Hmm. Okay, interesting story, thanks. I think I’ll keep hold of these anyway but I’ll think about it before I go rushing down to Richmond’s!”
Our coffees finished, we gathered our things and headed back into the mall. “Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!