RoboJeeves and the BugBytes

"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.



Anok said...

Excellent, just excellent! We have to put those robots in their place you know, once you give them the power to call customers it won't be long before they start showing up, unannounced, with creepy robotic flowers and wine spiked with someone else's prescription! ;)

Thanks for the laugh Jenn, as always!

Jenn Thorson said...

Anok- Oh no!! I won't answer the door if I see red glowing eyes out there on the porch. "Gort, is that YOU?"

Floormodel said...

I know where your robojeeves went. he was exiled and is now making calls reminding me that it's time to reup my Reader's Digest subscription. Which I would gladly do if it wasn't a gift and wasn't a lifetime subscription.
I suspect he'll next reappear calling only at dinner time and trying to sell someone encyclopedias.

Jenn Thorson said...

FloorModel- WOW, he's REALLY bad at his jobs, isn't he?

I mean, cheap robotic labor just ISN'T like it is in the cartoons, is it? :)

Jaffer said...

Hahaha - When I heard of such a phone in service by Rexall a few years ago I thought it was pretty cool !

But unfortunately - I hear that some people forget that they had pressed 1 - resulting in prescriptions piling up with no one to claim !

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- I can absolutely see that happening, too. Human error is the one thing we pretty much expect! :)

JD at I Do Things said...

Poor Robojeeves. Even robots make mistakes. And your Handsome Pharmacy Dude sounds like a huge improvement over my Friendly but Nervous-Seeming Guy Who Can't Make Eye Contact.

I have some prescriptions on automatic refill, but I don't trust it.

Jenn Thorson said...

JD- Heh- I do admit Handsome Pharmacy Dude in some ways balances out some of the annoyances of having to be at the pharmacy all the time. :)

No, I don't trust those automatic refill things either.

ReformingGeek said...

Just go to the pharmacy. Maybe cute pharmacist could give you a flu shot!

mwaybob said...

robochap scares me out of my robopants

Anonymous said...

I think Robojeeves has jetted off somewhere to lead a more personally fulfilling life. That last prank was deliberate; he really wanted to get fired. They complied. Everyone's happy, especially RJ. He's probably on a deck chair on the moon, catching some rays in his solar panels and quaffing an oil slick martini.

Sorcerer said...

excellent writeup!

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- Heh, I can imagine the look of horror on his face if I asked. :)

MwayBob- Ah, but he's so FRIENDLY! He's just waiting to be your pal, Bob!

Tony- Well, that's a happy outcome for the fellow. I don't know how many oilslick martinis he could get in this economy, but as long as he's managing.

Sorcerer- Hey, thanks for stopping by!