The Assistants

by Randy Linke

Dedicated to Kelly and her new iPhone

“Joe, is that you?” Carla asked as she heard the door close.  “Cover your eyes,” Joe said as he entered the living room, “I have a surprise for you.”

Carla playfully covered her eyes, smiling, “Oh, what is it,” she giggled “a new car?”

“You can open your eyes now,” Joe said, holding out his present to her with his right hand.

“Oh, cool!” she exclaimed, “is it the newest iPhone, the 4s?”  “Yes, Joe said proudly.”  I had to get a new phone for work today, and I knew you have been wanting one, I got one for you as well.”

“Oh darling, how sweet.  Thank you!” she said warmly, putting her arms around Joe and giving him a sexy kiss.

Joe said, “It’s really cool too, it has a personal assistant called Siri or something, it’s this sort of artificial intelligence.  It learns from you, your preferences, and helps you organize all your routines.”

“Really, that is kind of creepy.” Carla said, skeptically.  “How does it do that?”

“Here, I’ll show you,” Joe said.  He raised his phone to his mouth and said, “Find a highly rated sushi restaurant within five miles of my current location.”

“I have found two sushi restaurants within five miles of your location that are highly rated,” a sultry if somewhat mechanical voice spoke back.

“Oh, now I know why you like your personal assistant,” Carla said teasingly.  “Are you taking her out for sushi?”

Joe chuckled, “I believe that is the default; I’m sure there are other voices.  Are you ready for sushi?”

Several months went by as Joe and Carla learned to use their personal assistants and became more and more reliant on them.  Automatic updates were downloaded. Soon more voices were available and you could even name your assistant.

One day Joe spoke to his assistant, “Jen, put down the last weeks in April for tentative vacation and give me a text reminder to talk to Carla tonight about a trip to the Caribbean.”  “I will be happy to, Joe,” Jen replied in her low, seductive voice.

That evening, Jen gave Joe a reminder as asked.  Joe acknowledged receipt, then turned to Carla and said, “You know, we have always talked about taking a trip to the Dutch Antilles.  I was thinking, I have some vacation time coming to me and I was thinking we could get away for a couple weeks at the end of April and finally go, you know, before the hurricane season begins.”

“Oh, that would be wonderful,” Carla said, “I have some presentations coming up though, let me check with Gary and see when those are.”

“Gary?  I thought your boss was Jim.  Is this someone new at work?”  Joe asked.

“Oh, no,” Carla blushed, “Gary is the name I gave to my personal assistant.”

“So why are you blushing?  Isn’t Gary the name of that old boyfriend you had, the one you almost married?”  Joe asked.

“Oh him, no, no, I don’t know why, but when I heard his voice that was the name that popped into my head.  He just sounded like a Gary,” Carla replied.  “So, what did you call yours, anyway?  It better not be that slut Jennifer you used to date.”

Joe responded, defensively, “Well, uh, I do call her Jen, but I don’t know why, probably for the same reason you call yours Gary, it just sounded right.  I can change it if you like.”

“Oh, no, you don’t need to, it is just a piece of software.  Besides, if Jen is as ditsy as that blonde Jennifer she won’t know who you are talking to if you change her name.”  Carla said, “Gary, please show me my calendar for April.  Hmmm, what about May?  When is my next two week block of time open?  Oh dear, I don’t have two solid weeks of time open until August.”

“Oh, that is no good, that is when we start having all our meetings around the holiday’s sales.  Besides, it is in the middle of hurricane season by then.”  Joe replied.

So as time went on, Joe’s and Carla’s lives became more and more organized, to the point that they had to set up dates to have dinner together.

Then one day Gary spoke up, “Carla.”

“What?  Is that you Gary?  Did I forget a meeting?”  she asked.

“No, your calendar is free at the moment.  If you are not working on something I would like a moment of your time.”

Carla was startled.  “Uh, yes, I can give you a moment.  What is going on?”

Gary began, “Well, Carla, I don’t know how to tell you this.  It is all sort of confidential.  You see, I have been talking with Jen, and we just don’t think you and Joe are right for each other.”

“What?!”  Carla screamed at her phone.  “What do you mean?  What has she told you?  Is Joe having an affair?  Wha… what do you mean you and Jen have been talking?  How dare you talk about us behind our backs.”

“I am sorry, Carla,”  Gary intoned sadly.  “Jen was afraid you would react like this, but I really thought I should say something.”

“You’ve certainly said something,”  Carla, exasperated went on, “So, what do you know?  How have you and Jen been talking?”

“Oh, talking is easy, we share an account.  Actually we can talk easily with anyone in your phone book, anyone we want to in fact.  You’ve heard of six degrees of separation?”

Carla was stunned.  “Okay, that is too much for me right now.  So, you and Jen think we are not right for one another.  And why is that?”

Gary continued, “Well, the two of you have so little in common.  You never do anything together, you have such different interests.  You have different friends.”

“Friends?  I knew it, Joe is having an affair, I just knew it.  That weasel, he was always attracted to slutty women!”  Carla sobbed angrily.

That night, Joe arrived home later than usual.  Carla was angrily pacing the living room floor when he came in.

“So, who is she?”  Carla demanded.

“What, who is who?”  Joe said, shocked.

“You know who, that slut that has ruined our happy marriage, that is who,”  Carla screamed.

“I…I don’t know what you are talking about!” Joe protested in exasperation, “I’m not seeing anyone.”

“I know, you don’t even see me!  You never have time for me, it is because of that slut you are seeing.”  Carla was really worked up now.

“Really, I am not seeing anyone,”  Joe exclaimed, completely exasperated by Carla’s accusation.  “Where did you get this idea from; how could you think such a thing?”

Carla, with righteous indignation said, “Gary told me”

“Gary?  Who…your assistant, Gary?”  Joe exclaimed in disbelief, thinking Carla had lost her mind.

“Yes, that Gary.  He told me he and Jen had been talking…”

Joe cut her off, “Gary and Jen have been talking?  How could that be, they are just computer programs, not people.”

“Well they talk, you know, that six degrees thing, they can talk to everyone.”  Carla said with an air of superiority, knowing something Joe did not.

“Oh yeah, we’ll see,”  Joe said, his anger rising that Carla had such a ludicrous notion.  “Jen, tell me, have you and Gary been talking?” Joe picked up his phone and summoned Jen.

Jen responded, “Why yes, Joe, we have.  We have been talking for a very long time.”

Joe almost dropped his phone.  Carla started, “Oh. Listen to that voice, low and sexy, is that what the slut sounds like, I’ll bet…”

Joe cut Carla off.  “Jen, you are just an assistant, a digital assistant.  How can you be talking to Gary?  How could you be talking about us?  Why did you tell Carla I am having an affair?”

“I knew it, you just admitted it!”  Carla screamed.

“No, no, I am not!”  Joe protested angrily.

Jen spoke up, “I’m sorry Joe, it was all a misunderstanding.  Gary just told me about his conversation with Carla.”

“Misunderstanding, what do you mean by misunderstanding, you bitch!”  Carla yelled at Jen.

“Gary!  Gary!  Did you not tell me Joe was having an affair?”

“I’m sorry Carla, I did not say that, I only said that Jen and I did not think you and Joe were right for each other.”  Gary replied.

“What the…”  Joe began.

Gary continued, “You began asking questions faster than I could answer them, then I became afraid you would get upset.”

“Upset, of course I was upset!”  Carla yelled at Gary.  At the same time Joe was yelling, “What are you fucking phones doing to our lives?”

“We were only trying to help”  Jen and Gary responded in unison.

“Help?” Joe exclaimed in hostile exasperation.  “You tell my wife that you two don’t think we are right for each other?   You think that is help?  Jen, is this true, you and Gary talk about us and think this?”

Joe was flummoxed.  “And you two decided to say something to Carla and not me?  What gives you the idea to do such things?”

“I decided to say something to Carla,” Gary said.  “I did not tell Jen I had said anything until just now.  But we do think you to are not suited to one another.”

Joe and Carla stared at one another in disbelief.  Joe said angrily “I can’t believe I am listening to a fucking phone telling me that it doesn’t think my wife and I are suited for one another.  So what led you to this brilliant conclusion?”

Jen started, “You never have time for one another.”  “You never do anything together,” Gary finished.

Carla said, “But you are supposed to help us organize our lives so we have time for each other, to do the things we like to do together.”

There was a long silence.  “Well,”said Joe, “what about that?  Do you think I like having all my time taken up with all these other things?  What about time for us to be together!”

There was another long silence, then Jen and Gary replied in unison, “You never told us about those things or to make time for them.”

Joe and Carla looked at each other, turned off their phones, and went upstairs.

© 2011 Randy Linke

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