Experiment #14

The Robot Who Couldn’t

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jimmy who lived with his Mom. Finally, after months of asking, Jimmy got a robot. He’d received it as a gift from a distant aunt who’d even gone to the trouble of having it personally engraved, or at least that’s what his Mom told him he had to say he appreciated in his Thank You card.

Jimmy put the robot together himself without even touching the directions. Jimmy would command it and the robot would do what he asked. Jimmy stopped having to do all kinds of things he didn’t like, such as cleaning his room, washing the dishes, and feeding the family pet. This left plenty of time for playing video games, watching holographic television, and generally doing nothing.

But soon the robot slowed. Once it took the robot a whole day to make Jimmy’s bed. Finally, it stopped moving all together.

“Robot, clean my room,” Jimmy commanded.

The robot didn’t move. Jimmy went off to play anyway, but his Mom marched him right back into the room. She didn’t care if the robot wasn’t working, Jimmy’s chores still had to be done, so Jimmy cleaned his room.

“Robot, do my homework.” Jimmy said. The robot didn’t move, so with a grumble, Jimmy did it.

“Robot, pick up my toys.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, do the dishes.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, pick up my clothes.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, make my bed.” The robot didn’t move.

“Why do I even have a robot if you won’t do anything?” Jimmy asked.

The robot didn’t answer.

Jimmy threw his pillow at the robot.

The robot bobbled at the impact.

Jimmy walked over and grabbed the pillow. As Jimmy looked at the robot he paused. Most of the robot was a dull brownish grey, but where the pillow had hit it there was a streak of lighter grey. Jimmy used his sleeve and rubbed the robots chest plate. A long forgotten inscription showed through, “Property of James Alfred Smith.”

Jimmy found the manual under a stack of books. He flipped through it and looked up at the robot. He got out his tools and a bucket of soapy water.

Jimmy cleaned and oiled, scrubbed and washed. He repaired the arm and leg motors that had fused for lack of oil. He soldered broken circuitry and rewired to increase the robots mobility. He straightened the antenna and fixed the voice circuits he’d never bothered to hook up.

“M-m-master,” the robot said, “Please forgive me. I wanted to do as you asked, but I could not move.”

Jimmy set down his tools. “Call me Jimmy,” he said.

Together they cleaned up the tools, together they made the bed, and together they went downstairs to play video games, watch holographic television, and generally do nothing.

Peer Review the Experiment

Tell the author how he did and how he could do better.
Be Honest. Be Specific. Be Constructive.