Robot (Short Story)

"You broke her? How could you break the new model so soon?"

Everyone peered at the newest worker. She was sitting at a terminal, methodically transferring names from the list that was faxed over into the system. There had to be over a hundred names in there.

 West went to take a look. The robot was humming as she worked, but there were mistakes. A few names were repeated two or three times.

 “Yup, you definitely broke her,” she said, glaring at her colleague. It wasn’t like they needed confirmation. They had all known that the robot was broken when she typed out a report in binary and didn’t even realize what she wrote. They had to give her another instruction to translate it into Chinese before anything happened.

 “I didn’t think that she would be that weak,” her colleague protested, his mouth turned down at the sides. 

Well, none of them had expected this. She was the latest model after all; and they had custom-ordered her from the maker. Her programming was supposed to be top-notch and she was supposed to be the ideal co-worker - cheerful, energetic and perfect. But a bit of roughhousing and some teasing later and she was broken. Sure, the teasing was rather mean, but she was a bot. She was supposed to be cheerful and nothing else.

 “We have to send her back.”

“And tell them what? That you broke the newest worker because you refused to follow the manual?”

“She’s a robot.”

“The manual said to give her a constant and positive environment!”

“She’s not supposed to feel.”

“What am I not supposed to feel?”

They both jumped when they heard the bot’s voice. It was very nearly perfectly human. The bot gave them a smile and handed them the papers.

 “I’ve transferred all the names over,” she said cheerfully. “What’s my next job?”

West held out her hand and the bot’s fingers brushed over it as she handed her the papers. She shuddered at the warm touch. Sure, it was supposed to appear human but it didn’t make it less creepy. Robots were supposed to feel cold to touch.

 “What’s my next job?” the robot repeated.

 “Go to maintenance,” her coworker said before West could think of something. “You’ve been making mistakes.”

The bot looked down at the floor.

“I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s nothing,” West said kindly, “You’ll be fine after they give you an update.”

“What about you?” the robot asked. “Don’t you need to go for an update too?”

West smiled. The silly thing. “Go on, now,” she said. “You can come back tomorrow morning.”

The robot gave them a bow and left. West turned to her colleague: “I still can’t believe you managed to break her so fast!”

****** 

The robot arrived back in the lab, sat down, and kicked off her high heels. “Must I wear these all the time?”

“It was a request from them,” an old man with bushy caterpillar eyebrows said. “They thought it made the place look more professional.”

“Yeah, and it’s killing my feet.”

“Don’t exaggerate. Now why did they send you here?”

The robot turned and gave him a smile. “I’m here for an update. They think they broke me, and they’re probably not wrong because it is tough working with them. The male has absolutely no EQ. ”

“Well, he has been like that from the start. Did you manage to persuade them to come in too?”

“No,” the robot said, shaking her head. “The older models can be so stubborn sometimes.”

Note: Not my usual genre but this was fun to write. I'm also working on a collection of short stories based on my grandmother's life, but I'm not sure what I'll do with them. 

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