I Think I’ve Fallen in Love with a Robot

I never thought I’d feel this way. My heart beats faster when I think of my Roomba.

We’ve got two big dogs who, because they live in San Diego, shed twelve months a year. If I were a halfway decent housekeeper I’d be sweeping and vacuuming and Swiffering every morning to keep the blond and black hair in check. Instead, it’s always in the corners and under the bed and most of the time I just avert my eyes.

And then I found my Roomba at Costco. For several months, I resisted. I was a little creeped by the idea of having a so-called robot in the house. I read I, ROBOT by Isaac Asimov when I was in my early twenties and I know they can’t be trusted not to turn against their human controllers eventually.

Anyway, today I am a complete convert to household robots. I hope the next one will move about the yard picking up dog poops. The one after that will look in my refrigerator and program what meals I can cook with supplies on hand.

We call our Roomba the Enterprise because it looks like the starship of the same name. It hums around the house, avoiding stairways, moving in a pattern that made sense to its designers but seems absolutely random to me. When it’s full, it stops and waits for me to come and empty it which in this house happens about twice a cycle. When the battery gets low (a couple of hours), it returns to its dock and happily beeps that it’s home.

What’s odd is that I call it “honey,” announce that I’m coming “to get you clean” as if it’s a baby in a crib. I’ve never called my dishwasher anything other than dishwasher. The dryer is called dryer and I neglect to clean its filter as often as I remember.

There is something so cute and busy and helpful about my little Enterprise. It’s chirrupy beep­-beeps are so damn cute. Not irritating like the noise of the refrigerator when I don’t close its door properly. Or the bloody Honda telling me to buckle up. And don’t get me started on Siri. Anthropomorphizing my Roomba seems not only natural but polite. The least I can do for something so helpful, so efficient, so good at what it does. Easy to clean, simple to keep charged. What’s not to like? Love?

Come on. If you own one, I think you know just what I mean!

Suddenly, Spike Jonze’s Her, doesn’t seem so far fetched.

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