Bad Tech

The upside-down

It was Fourth of July weekend — 105+ degrees — and the Boy’s air conditioner went kaput.

“They can’t fix it until next Thursday,” the Boy said. “Can we stay with you?”

Sure, and they brought their little dog too — Susan B. Anthony, the cuddly mini-doberman that’s only potentially lethal to little dogs — including my 10-pound Carol Baskins.

We have two empty bedrooms, and a bathroom that’s only for emergencies. Between the couch, the loveseat and the lazy boy, we have 4 leather reclining chairs. It’s better than a medieval palace for 4 adults and two little dogs.

Never mind that we keep the AC at 73, which means the vents blow 45-degree air straight onto the leather chairs. The Boy and his smarty-pants, potential wife wear sweaters and use the down blankets to keep “warm.” Just don’t let your teeth chatter — I can’t hear the TV.

Space is one thing — sharing a house turned into a mini episode of Stranger Things.

Over morning coffee and muffins (that were baked for the Boy’s birthday, but I was wolfing down like my last meal on earth) the wife started her obsession — for a dish.

“What did you do with the small baking pan?” she asked in a way that meant I was the cause of all problems in this world.

She last saw it in the dishwasher. She accused me of “losing” it by emptying the dishwasher. I did no such thing. I would never empty the dishwasher on my own.

She tried bribery, “you know that’s the pan I use to make brownies…”

She tried distracting me. Slamming cabinet doors. Banging and clacking pans and ceramics as she dug into every nook and cranny in the kitchen and pantry.

She tried accusory. “I swear you broke it, and you are lying to me to cover it up,” the words came out like I’ve been murdering drifters as a hobby and breaking her dishes as my second job.

The Boy, smarty-pants and I remained still and silent. Soon, they left for what they call “work.” I retreated to my “office” for what I call “work” at home.

“Found it.” the wife yelled from the other room. She later confessed she was about to call the Boy and accuse him of participating in my crockery cover up.

The Napping House

Long ago we trained the boy that summers were for snoozing. He plops on the couch, closes the drapes, and whiles away the heat of the day.

He left to go to the gym when I ventured out of my “office.” The wife returned from whatever it was that she was running around doing all day.

“What’s wrong with the Roomba? It’s upside-down,” she said.

After the dishwasher incident, her credibility setting was on low. “It’s probably just stuck under the chair and rolled up some of the door mat…”

It wasn’t. I walked into the kitchen to see this… (cue the creepy, wet, synth music)

Here lies my little Roomba, Carol. Just feet from home. Exhausted and still after a futile fight to right itself.

Like a sad turtle or a bad wrestler, the Roomba could not get off its back. I slowly put its wheels back on the ground. I pushed the power button. I held the button for 3 seconds. I tried chest compressions. It would not revive.

I carefully placed it on its home base and yelled “clear.” Nothing. I texted it from my phone to “go home.” Silence. The app said robot health was “unknown.”

Amid the lamentations, the wife and I shared our theories of conspiracy.

“It must have hit the chair and flipped,” I half-assed guessed. “Or maybe the dogs used it like a toy.”

She scoffed.

“It was the Boy.” She mouthed the words in a knowing sneer. This was the Roomba-killing monster she gave birth to and raised.

I didn’t believe her. He had no means, no motive and little opportunity.

After 20 minutes, the Roomba came back to life. Its battery on 10-percent and charging; its app reporting it was “home;” it made a full recovery.

Later at dinner for four…

“Guess where your mother found her dish?” I asked the kids with just a little glee… and the wife giggled her way to say “dishwasher.”

Right where she left it… That will teach her for thinking I might show initiative.

“Sadly, we don’t know what killed the Roomba… you know in the app I named it Carol, like the dog, and I was just picturing our puppy being stuck on her back and not being able to flip over like my little robot vacuum…” My voice cracked at Carol; it trailed off at robot.

“I flipped it over,” the Boy said. “I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off…”

Why turn it off?

“I was napping. It was annoying me with all that cleaning.”

Why not just hit power? Who the fuck thinks about turning over somebody else’s shit. If he couldn’t stop my car, would he flip over the honda?

“Worked didn’t it,” he said with that shit-eating grin that has allowed him to get away with fuck-all his whole life.

The wife bought dinner, and later she made brownies in the “missing” pan. The Roomba spent the next day running the living room and managed to stay right-side up in our little upside-down.

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