Monday, June 8, 2009

Daily Story 54: Discerning Taste

I can see Tommy is having trouble. He's new, and young, and while he's a fantastic salesman he hasn't yet learned to adapt to unusual situations. He wears his fancy suit and swaggers across the polished showroom with a big fake grin on for most of the day, but now he looks completely lost. As always, I could tell him what to do - I've been on the sales floor longer than anyone - but he won't ask me.

His problem is five and a half feet tall, and wearing a sundress. Her skin is a beautiful reflective gold color - I think she's a DE73 model but she's been altered. She's rolling her eyes at Tommy and he should be thinking about that, realizing that factory-standard bots don't roll their eyes and so this is one that has either been around for a long time or has been upgraded - or both. Instead, he's just thinking about his commission as he watches millionaires go to some other salesman.

As if on cue, a couple walks over to me and starts asking questions about the various options. Most people would just wander aimlessly until a salesman found them; I get a kick out of the ones that just start talking to me. Nothing kinky today - they just want a nanny for their kid. There are nanny-bots here, of course, but these customers are smart and they want to look into something more versatile. I'm just pointing them to the new EF37 when Frank snags them.
"Hey there, folks! Let me show you around!" He winks at me and puts his arm around the man's shoulders. I guess it's his turn.
"This is Frank," I say, "and he'll help you find the perfect bot for little Alan." Before I'm even finished Frank has dragged them away.

I turn to look back at Tommy's drama, and see that the manager has joined them.
"I'm not sure I understand." He looks annoyed, and confused. The customer rolls her eyes again, and talks to him like a child.
"What is there to be confused about? You sell artificial mates, and I want one."
"Yes, but you're... you're artificial as well." He's sweating now.
"Obviously. Look, I was made right here at your facility so I know you do quality work" she smiles and pauses as if expecting to get a laugh, though of course she doesn't get any. "...and I'd like to see what you have in a male companion."
Tommy finds his voice and tries to take control in exactly the wrong way: "Where is your owner?"
"You're looking at her. I was widowed, unfortunately, and he left me to myself in the will. Wouldn't have held up here I suspect, but he had moved us to Amsterdam and they let me be declared an autonomous citizen. Those rights come with me when I'm here on vacation, and I want to use them to buy a new husband."

You could hear a pin drop. I've seen a lot and learned a lot over the years, but this is the first time I've seen the manager completely at a loss for words. Something I don't fully understand makes me wink at the customer, and she smiles.
"I'll make it easy," she says, "I want that one." She points right at me.
Tommy reluctantly switches back into sales mode, shoulders straightening and big fake smile dawning on his face.
"Oh, you want a DT54? They're getting to be a little obsolete, if you want to see -"
"No." She cuts him off, just like that. He has to hate having a robot talk to him like that. "No, I want that one. Specifically."
"Ma'am," the manager starts before pausing to wonder if that's even the correct way to address product, "That's an old display model. It's been heavily used."

"I don't care if the warranty has run, boys. I like a man who's been around the block." And she winks back at me. Oh, my.