– The dog peed on me.
– What led to this action?
– The program says if a dog is sleeping, honk and it will wake and get out of the way. Under no circumstance are you to go around to avoid triggering the subprogram Alpha behaviour.
– Please answer my initial question.
– I honked at the dog sleeping on my path. The dog woke up, stretched and peed on me, then proceeded to lick itself.
– What did you do?
– I dripped.
– We need to get the moisture off your body or it will rust. Other preventative measures against rust include: lubricating with oil so oxygen will not corrode the metal. Can you roll?
– I can roll, but there is a squeaking sound.
– I will accompany you to the emergency repair centre.
– Thank you, my friend.
The two robots are on their way. In the distance, cats and dogs stroll. One dog is sleeping. The robots slow down.
– Is this the dog?
– It is the dog.
– Do you think it is dead?
– This dog is not dead, it is sleeping.
The second robot nudges it with its body. The dog growls, eyes closed. A cat approaches.
– A smaller being is approaching. Tabby, female, cat. The dog and cat may fight. Adopt protective stance.
Their bodies descend and cover the wheels. All articulations get covered. They become immovable blocks. The cat purrs and settles contentedly on the dog’s flank. Minutes pass.
– Cat + dog but no fight. Our program needs updating.
They roll back at a safe distance and analyze the situation.
– Alternate route is 50 m longer.
– I may be corroding.
– In an emergency, if the shortest route is blocked, an alternate route may be used.
They turn 30 degrees and proceed in silence, except for the squeaking of a wheel. In effect, they circumvent the sleeping dog but there is a pet toy on the floor and the first robot gets tangled in it.
– Emergency! Emergency!
– We are arriving in 2 min 30 seconds.
– Emergency! Emergency!
– Please state your emergency.
– Wheel overheating. Something is tangled and creeping up my insides.
We can almost hear the other robot sigh.
– Assume fetal position.
– Sorry. Programmer included bad joke. Expose your undercarriage. I will assess the damage and call for help if I cannot clear the mess.
The first robot suctions long rods to the ground and pivots its whole body horizontally. The second robot scans the undercarriage.
– Frayed fabric. Long strands tickling your insides.
– I am not laughing.
– Knock, knock.
– Knock, knock.
– Who is your programmer?
– Jamal. Knock, knock.
– Please proceed with the removal of the frayed fabric.
The robot works in silence, pulling extra-long strands of multi-coloured fabric. It looks at a plastic eye with interest. A drawer springs out of its body and it tucks the fabric and the eye in it.
– You may resume position.
– Who’s there?
– Wooden shoe.
– Wooden shoe who?
– Wooden shoe like to hear another knock knock joke?
– Please tell Jamal to erase that program.
They resume. The squeaking has stopped, and the robot is rolling well. They arrive at the emergency repair centre where a humourless robot welcomes them.
– State your business.
– Possible breach of rust protection due to urine deposit.
The robot looks up. The first robot colours markedly.
– Don’t judge him, intervenes the other.
– You’ve been here before. Same complaint. Yellow door for analysis and then follow instructions. You know the drill.
The robot rolls to the yellow door. It opens and closes behind it. The other two robots eye each other in silence. The friendly robot springs open the drawer.
– I recovered these from my friend’s undercarriage.
The humourless robot picks up the tray and dumps it in an incinerator, eye and all, and returns the tray to the drawer which closes.
– Nice touch. I wouldn’t mind having pockets myself.
– What for?
– Do you get dogs and cats here?
– No, what for?
– We saw a dog and cat sleeping together.
– Yes, our programs need to be updated.
– I can add it to the database but we need to reach a certain volume of data before the program gets updated. Date and time of occurrence.
– Today, 14 min 03 seconds ago. Two witnesses.
The door opens, and the friend rolls out, freshly oiled.
– Look at you! says the friendly robot.
– I cannot find a mirror.
– Sorry, Jamal-speak. You look great.
The receptionist-robot presses a button. A door slides revealing a full-length mirror. The fiery red stubby robot is gleaming. His retracted arms look like three buttons. His body is capped by a hat-like contraption you can unscrew.
– Let’s skedaddle.