Tag: furniture

The Little Red Robot

Once there was a little red robot who was in charge of coordinating the efforts of all the kitchen appliances. One day, the robot was checking the calendar and was thrilled to find a dinner party scheduled for that very day. This meant that there would be lots of work to do, but the robot liked work, so this made him very happy.

He stood in the center of the kitchen and displayed the calendar on his view screen. “There is a dinner party today,” he announced to the appliances. “There will be a lot of work to do. Who will help me?” No one replied.

The robot wasn’t concerned. It was up to him to break up an important job like this into smaller tasks, after all, so that each appliance knew which was its part. The robot looked around the kitchen as he thought through what needed to be done.

“There are dirty dishes in the sink. We can’t start cooking when there are dirty dishes. Dishwasher, will you wash the dishes?”

“Not today. I washed two loads yesterday, so I’m due a day off,” the dishwasher rumbled.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red robot. And he did. He only broke three plates, which didn’t seem too bad.

The dishwasher didn’t agree. “Three plates? They’re going to blame me for that. I’ll be sent away and replaced by a newer dishwasher.”

“But there are lots of plates,” the robot protested.

“That’s because I don’t break them! If I broke plates every time I washed dishes, then they’d be gone in two weeks or less.”

The little red robot had to admit that the dishwasher had a point. But there wasn’t time to discuss abstract philosophy. There was a dinner party to prepare for. The robot went through his mental list.

“Now it’s time to choose a menu. Cookbook database, can you choose a recipe that would be good for a dinner party?”

The cookbook beeped. “All our recipes are good. Make them all.”

“There isn’t time for that,” the little red robot said firmly. “I’ll choose one myself.” He entered a few random letters and picked the top entry. “Pickle relish…” he did another search, “…and steel cut oats.” The robot thought for a moment. “There should probably be some kind of protein. I’ll boil eggs. I don’t need a recipe for that.”

The cookbook blinked its red lights and beeped repeatedly. “Those aren’t dinner party foods. They don’t even go together. I’ll be completely replaced if they serve something like that at the party. Here, take this…” It printed out a few recipes and went blank.

“We will need ingredients, refrigerator…” he began

The refrigerator opened a door just wide enough to shove the necessary ingredients out. “Don’t come any closer,” it said. “I’m functioning perfectly well, and I’d like to stay that way.”

“Good point,” the oven said. “I’ll have no burnt dinners, thank you very much. Pass me the ingredients and step back.”

The robot turned around to find the cupboards and table busy with the place settings. The door was cycling through possible greeting protocols. The little robot was happy to see that he was doing a tremendous job coordinating the efforts of the kitchen appliances.

Unfortunately, he did so well that he worked himself out of a job. It had been kind of thrilling when he thought he could do all the work of the dinner party himself. And if a guest hadn’t shown up, maybe he could have done their job too. He imagined entertaining everyone with talk about the current weather reports and common health ailments.

Alas, it wasn’t too be. The guests all arrived, and the party went smoothly. The little red robot watched from the shadows, before leaving quietly. There was nothing more to do here. However, he had looked out the back window earlier, and the garden could maybe use a little work.

Was nobody coordinating the efforts of the garden tools? He checked the calendar. In the morning he slipped out the back door and hurried over to the garden shed. “There is a barbecue scheduled in two days. Barbecues are a type of cooking, so I am coordinating efforts so that it all goes well. Lawn mower, will you mow the lawn tomorrow at ten o’clock?”

“It’s too sunny today,” the lawn mower said. “I think I might be overheating.”

“Then I’ll cut the grass myself,” said the little red robot. And so it began.

Two days later, the lawn was slightly bald in places and a few of the rosebushes were over-trimmed, but the barbecue went well. The garden tools had learned to work together, and the little red robot had worked himself out of another job. He didn’t mind too much. There was a slumber party on the calendar, and the bedrooms weren’t as clean as they should be. There was work to do!


Grandpa’s History of Furniture

Mom and Dad went out to dinner for their anniversary so they asked Grandpa to babysit. Carrie was already asleep when he arrived. Lynn and Jim and Neal played Go Fish on the couch while he sat and read. They talked in whispers so they didn’t wake Carrie up. Carrie was scary when she was grumpy.

“Do you have a seahorse?” Jim whispered.

“Yes.” Neal shuffled through the cards in his hand. “At least I think I do. Where did it go?” He looked around. “Did I drop it?”

Neal stood up. He wasn’t sitting on it. He looked on the floor and under the couch. Jim leaned over and checked in the space between the couch cushions. “Here it is. The couch ate it.”

Lynn rolled her eyes. “No, it didn’t. Couches can’t eat anything. They aren’t alive, you know.”

“It’s just an expression. It’s not like I thought the couch had grown teeth or something.” Jim handed the card to Neal.

“Didn’t you ask for it? It’s yours now,” Neal whispered.

“Oh, that’s right.”

Grandpa put his book down and came and sat on the arm of the couch. “This seems like a nice, safe couch.”

“I suppose it’s sufficiently sturdy,” Lynn said politely.

“Not like the couches when I was younger,” Grandpa added.

“Did they fall apart when you sat on them?” Neal asked. “What were they made out of? Cardboard or hay or something?”

“Cardboard wasn’t invented when Grandpa was little, right?” Jim looked at Grandpa, waiting for him to agree.

Lynn snorted. “Of course it was. Cardboard’s been around for at least a century.”

Grandpa smiled. “Oh, the furniture was sturdy enough when I was younger, and made of the same sorts of things. It just hadn’t been domesticated yet.”

“Like wolves or boars or tigers?” Neal leaned forward. “Did couches really eat people back then?”

“I repeat: couches are not alive,” Lynn whispered sharply. Everyone ignored her.

“Couches didn’t eat people. But they did bite pretty hard if they were spooked. I can remember going to the fairgrounds after a big furniture round-up. We’d go see what was on sale. My mother insisted on only buying furniture that was broken in, but some people liked to buy new furniture that was still a little wild. We just liked to see the show.”

“The show? Was it like a rodeo?” Neal asked. He looked delighted.

Grandpa chuckled. “Pretty much. I once saw someone ride a bucking rocking chair for a minute and a half. Those were the days.”

“But there isn’t any wild furniture now.” Jim put his cards down and looked puzzled. “What happened?”

“Woodpeckers and termites. They came out of nowhere. Some people believe they escaped from the lab of a mad scientists. Others believe it was the result of the glaciers receding after the ice age. In any case, all the wild furniture died out in less than a hundred years.”

“It was never alive to begin with,” Lynn said.

“That’s so sad,” Neal said. “So it only exists in captivity? How did they train the furniture to sit still and be sat on?”

“Lots of treats. Furniture likes to be dusted. It likes to eat cleaning products too, the kind it can absorb like furniture polish.” Grandpa pointed to the dusty shelves of the bookcase. “When I was younger, the dust on those shelves would have made the shelves spit out all those books and run around the room.”

“Really?” Jim looked uncertain. “But I’ve never seen the furniture move at all. Not even when it’s dusty. Do we not polish it enough? Is the couch starving? No wonder it ate our card.”

Grandpa nodded. “Well, now that you know, you can take care of it. Furniture is trained well before they sell it at stores nowadays, but you don’t want to lose its trust. When I was younger, there was a boy who kept leaning back in his chair. We all told him to stop, but he didn’t listen.”

“What happened?” Neal grinned. “Did it eat him?”

“He probably just fell over. That’s why Mom tells you not to do it,” Lynn said.

“That’s right,” Grandpa said, smiling at Lynn. “He fell over, and the chair did too. None of the chairs trusted him for months. They all scooted out of the way when he tried to sit down, and he ended up falling on the floor.”

“Ouch. That must’ve hurt. What did he do?” Jim asked.

“He apologized to all the furniture in the house. Then he dusted and polished for a week straight. Then he could finally sit on the chairs again.”

Neal’s eyebrows scrunched together. “But grandpa, what did people do before furniture? Where did you sit or eat or sleep?”

“On the ground, of course,” Lynn said. “Not that grandpa was alive before people had furniture in their houses. That’s ridiculous.”

“I need to treat our furniture better. Then it won’t eat my cards or dump me on the floor.” Neal looked around warily. “Do you think it would eat my dinner?”

“Not unless you eat furniture polish,” Jim said. He gathered the cards. “Now that Grandpa’s done reading, let’s deal him in to the game.”

“Just watch out for the card-eating couch,” Neal said.

“Don’t worry.” Grandpa gave the couch a fond pat. “This one is domesticated.” Lynn snorted. Jim dealt the cards and they started another quiet round of Go Fish. Carrie didn’t wake up. Grandpa won every round.