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Help me, Rhonda!: Chapter Three

Copyright J. S. Raynor, 2013, 2017

Chapter Three : A Design Flaw

A couple of days later, Harry was, as usual, sitting in his reclining chair, while Emma was tidying some magazines. “Can I help?”, asked Rhonda.

“Yes, please Rhonda. Harry and I are going for a rest in the bedroom, giving you chance to dust and vacuum this room without us getting in your way. Come on, Harry.”

Harry put down his newspaper and pressed the button on his chair to assist him to stand. It was obvious that, even with the assistance of the chair, Harry was having difficulty standing. Harry had a sudden inspiration. “Rhonda! Can you give me a hand, please?”

Rhonda’s usual smiling face was replaced with a puzzled expression “I’m sorry, Harry, but I do not have a spare hand.  You can have my left one if you really need it. She began to unscrew her left hand, much to Harry’s horror.

With great urgency, Harry shouted, “No, Rhonda!  I don’t want your left hand.  Not even your right hand.  All I want is for you to help me get up out of this chair!  Okay?”

Rhonda, still quite calm, began to screw her hand on, again.

“Sorry, Harry.  Let me help you.” She stood in front of Harry, taking hold of his upper arms and then pulled him into a standing position, much faster than he had expected.

“Good God, Rhonda! You are very strong! I’ve never stood up so fast!  I think I must have left my bloody piles behind in the chair!”

Rhonda looked puzzled as she studied the empty chair.

Emma, smiling at Harry’s reaction, said, “Come on, Harry!  Let’s give Rhonda some space. The couple walked out of the room, leaving Rhonda to start the cleaning.

Rhonda began to talk to herself, still puzzled. “These humans are so strange.  Emma said they would give me some space, but where is it?”

Rhonda began to dust all horizontal surfaces. She removed items before dusting where they had been standing. One item on the mantelpiece was accidentally knocked off by Rhonda, yet she, deftly, caught it and replaced it precisely where it had been standing.

On one wall there was a large mirror and, every time Rhonda passed it, she faced the mirror and gave an extra wide, admiring smile.

After dusting, she plugged the vacuum cleaner into the wall socket and began to clean the floor. She seemed very happy and sang to herself as she worked, still admiring herself in the mirror whenever she passed it.

All the time, she was scanning the floor for obstacles and, when she noticed a newspaper on the floor where it had fallen off Harry’s chair, she switched off the cleaner.

Bending at the knees, she began to reach down to retrieve the paper. Her designers had not perfected this process and, as a result, Rhonda overbalanced, falling face down on the floor.

There was an anxious note in her voice as she called, “Harry!  Emma!  Please assist me!  Unable to regain standing position!”

Harry and Emma hurried from the bedroom and looked in amazement as Rhonda lay face down on the floor, her feet scrabbling to gain purchase.

With deep concern in his voice, harry asked, “Rhonda!  What the bloody hell happened?”

In a matter of fact voice, she replied, “Overbalanced trying to pick up newspaper.  Please assist!”

The elderly couple, faced with this very unusual situation, stood, one on either side of the prone robot, painfully, bending down and lifting Rhonda by her arms, until she could stand on her own.

Harry, exhausted and surprised, said, “Bloody hell, Rhonda!  You’re a hell of a weight!”

Emma, looked sharply at harry and, annoyed at her husband’s choice of words, asked, “Are you alright, now, Rhonda?”

The robot appeared to be doing some self-testing to analyse her status. “I think so.  Will carry out a self-test and re-calibration.” She paused, a blank expression appearing on her face and, at one stage her eyes appeared to be crossed. After about twenty seconds, a smile returned to Rhonda’s face. “Everything checks okay.  Sorry I had to ask for your assistance.”

Relieved, Emma said, “Don’t worry, Rhonda.  It’s good to know that we’re not yet completely useless.”

After a moment’s thought, Harry said, “If it is a problem to pick up small objects from the floor, you can use my grabber, if you want.”

With a wide smile, Rhonda answered, “Thank you, Harry.”

For the next few minutes, Harry explained how to use the grabbing device, picking up the newspaper several times until the Robot had mastered use of this handy tool.

Harry showed Rhonda where to find the grabber, should she need it at any time.

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