"This is your local pharmacy," said the robotic male voice on the other end of the line, cheer radiating from its diodes.
"Our records show that you have a prescription that needs to be refilled. Would you like me to refill it for you... now? Press one for yes. Two for no..."
I blinked at the phone in my hand. Really? Mr. Roboto could do that for me?
Normally, getting a refill involved long lines while 30 octogenarians in powerchairs asked whether their heart medicine would counteract with their hair bluing...
Or waiting while Handsome Pharmacy Dude talked someone down from the ceiling whose kid had just ingested a whole can of Spray Tan.
I pressed 1.
My friend Austin, who'd been visiting, was frowning curiously at me by now. Protocol was not such that I usually answered the phone and then didn't speak to the person on the line.
"It's my pharmacy's RoboJeeves," I explained. "He just called to see if there was anything I needed... Y'know, shrimp cocktail... a martini.... a bottle of hydrochlorothiazide..."
And we took a moment to marvel on the wonders of technology. How RoboJeeves was only the beginning. How this was the first in a whole new wave of customer service apps designed to make our lives easier and more... er.... Jetsonny. I hung up the phone with a sense of satisfaction, the bright gleam of possibility in my eyes.
The future, my friends, was now.
So when I went to pick up my prescription the next day, it was with a spring in my step and joy in my heart. I even oogled Handsome Pharmacy Dude more blatantly than usual, even though it's totally futile as he's ten years younger than I am and likely dates girls not on so-very-sexy blood pressure medications.
Soon, it was my turn, and they went searching for my prescriptions.
This search would become something only slightly less elaborate than the quest for King Tut's tomb.
"When did you call it in?" said Handsome finally, wiping sweat from his brow and putting down the archaological tools he'd been using to dig through the vast pharmaceutical sands. He'd found Jimmy Hoffa, the Ark of the Covenant and Paula Abdul's career, but not my little amber bottle.
"Monday," I said. "And I didn't. He called me."
He raised a dark eyebrow. "Who called you?"
"Your RoboJeeves. He called and asked me if I wanted my prescription filled. And I told him to go ahead, knock yourself out."
"Oh," responded Handsome flatly, irritation creasing his fine features. "Him."
Him. He said it like RoboJeeves was that relative who got drunk and caused a scene at the family reunion every year, but no one knew how to uninvite him. "You, um, know him, do you?"
"He calls but then never puts the prescription in the system. So people come in here expecting a prescription we don't have. Last week, he tried to refill a prescription that wasn't even valid anymore."
"Your robot pharmacist is prank calling your customers?"
"He's got to go," Handsome muttered, more to himself than me. He asked me to wait while he filled the prescription RoboJeeves hadn't bothered to tell them about.
He also said he would set it up so my prescriptions would just automatically refill, and I would get a call saying they were ready to pick up.
Of course, it's time to refill them now. And I received no phone call.
So I bet RoboJeeves has lost his phone privileges. Sure, early in the day he might have been calling folks about their prescriptions and then not filling them. But I bet he grew bored with that.
In no time, he'd be calling bars and asking if "Seymour Butts" was there. And phoning grocers to see if they had Prince Albert in the can.
He's probably been busted down to bringing in the shopping carts, or stocking in the back room.
But I guess that's progress for you. In any Brave New World, you have to expect a few bugs. I mean, look at the first C-3PO prototype. That guy would get a little oil in him, and start flashing his motherboard at everybody.
Lucas just doesn't like to talk about it.