[At The Front Door]
Verne: Okay, kid, I know this is your first day with the company, so try to pay attention and follow my lead. Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, and don’t talk about religion or politics. Tell the client they have a beautiful home, talk about the weather and maybe sports.
Joules: I understand.
Verne: And put your sun helmet brim down just above your eyebrows. It’s too far back on your head. You look stupid like that. Straighten your antenna, too.
Jane (opening front door): Good morning.
Verne: Good morning, ma’am. I’m Verne with Intergalactic Pool and Spa Service, and we’re here to look at your robotic cleaner. This is Joules, he’s new.
Jane: Good morning, Joules.
Joules: Good morning, ma’am. You have a beautiful dome home. The astroturf appears realistic in today’s partly cloudy synthetic weather. I do not golf.
Jane: Thank you…I think.
Verne: Uhh, this is a service call, ma’am, so we’ll need to collect your payment. It’s a 150 quadrillionth bitcoin for the service call, plus any additional repairs or parts. By the way, some pool parts and products are in short supply these days, so it may take a while to fix, but we could get you a brand-new cleaner installed in no time.
Jane: That’s fine. Do you take Venus Card?
Verne: Sorry ma’am, only Retina Checks. Too much credit card fraud, ya know.
Jane: Very well.
Verne: In the check’s memo space, please write “service call,” and today’s date is September 1, 2062. Now, look at this pen. Say cheese. [click]. Thank you, ma’am. We’ll go around to the pool.
Jane: Alright, I’ll meet you there.
[On Their Way Around]
Verne: “Beautiful dome home? I do not golf?” What was that? Artificial stupidity? Next time just nod your head and shut off your speaker… Ah, well, forget about it, kid. Hey, did you notice something strange about her? I can’t put my finger on it. Was she even real?
Joules: I did not see her blink. She might be a hologram.
Verne: Well, the check cleared and that’s what matters. Let’s go to work.
[They Arrive At The Pool]
Verne: So, where is the robotic cleaner, ma’am?
Jane: In the deep end. The children pushed Robby in the pool and ran away laughing.
Verne: That’s not good. He looks like a North Star 280 model with only two legs and two arms. Well, whad’ya know, he’s still holding the pole and net. Uh-oh! I see hydraulic fluid floating to the surface. Let’s get him out quick. Joules, gimme a hand. He’s gonna be heavy. Together now… hmmmmfffuuh… got him! Whew! That wasn’t easy. Okay, let’s have a look…
Verne: Ma’am, we’re gonna have to take him to the shop. I estimate it will be 47 quadrillionth bitcoin to fix. And that’s an estimate, mind you, not a promise. It’s what I don’t see that scares me. And there’s always a little programmed obsolescence in machines. A new cleaner is only 2 trillionth bitcoin including Universe Tax and free installation. I recommend the NOVA360 model upgraded with three legs and three arms. It has a new tile scrubbing tail and 50-year battery. It’ll be much more stable with three legs and harder for the children to push into the pool.
Jane: Okay, first, let me know if you can save our Robby. We must have a clean pool. My husband, George, swims laps every day. It is his fountain of youth. George is such a machine. He works 28 hours a day, and he needs the pool for relaxation. And I like to soak in the spa. The children love the slide, diving board and swimming with the robo-dolphins.
Verne: We’ll do our best to save him, ma’am. Joules, quick, what are the chemistry readings?
Joules: 1.0, 7.5, 60, 120, 26.7 degrees Celsius, cyanuric 20, Saturation Index -.5, TDS 950, salinity 400. Corrections needed to balance water: three bi-carb seltzer pellets, one hardness wafer and one drop of super chlorinate. Shall I make the adjustments?
Verne: Do it. That’s some chemistry app, you’ve got there, kid. Ma’am, your water chemistry condition is corrosive. Does the pool auto-fill water supply come directly from a water softener? Or the atmosphere distillation condensers?
Jane: I’m not sure. It is a new pool, and we really don’t know how to do the chemistry. By the way, do you know anything about artificial water?
Verne: It is a new technology, and it feels the same as real water, but you won’t float as well. The water colors, fragrances and flavors are fun, but... if you get one speck of stardust in the pool, it turns into moon cheese. Then, it will take about two lunar cycles, with a dozen plasma hammer operators, to dig it all out. You might as well put in another new pool.
Jane: Let’s not do that. Say, could you do pool service for us, like, from now on?
Verne: Absolutely! I’ll have our Celestial Care routine pool service division start right away.
Jane: That will be fine. Oh, I hear the tea kettle whistling. See yourselves out. Thank you.
Verne: Hey kid, ya wanna check the skimmer, instead of standing there twiddling your digits?
Joules: There are two small deceased pterodactyls in the skimmer basket, and nanobot flies are swarming. My olfactory sensors are detecting a strong odor of decomposition. I do not have this situation on my cleaning app. I do not know what to do. I do not like the smell.
Verne: It smells like a paycheck to me, kid. Just pull ‘em out with the basket and empty it in the fecal accident clean-up bucket in the shuttle. We’ll jettison it on our way to the next stop.
Joules: What if the Space Enforcers see us doing that?
Verne: Ah, yeah, forget about it, kid. We’ll just have to carry the stink around for the rest of the day until we can dump it in the HazMat incinerator at the shop. Ya know, I don’t think it was such a good idea to domesticate cloned dinosaurs for pets. It was okay to use them for food when all the cows were re-purposed for methane fuel production, but the pet thing is not workin’ out.
Hey, here’s one for ya, kid. I hear there’s a restaurant on Neptune that serves Bronto Burgers and T-Rex Tacos. I’m told it’s a great place to eat, but there’s no atmosphere. Get it? No atmosphere. It’s a joke, kid. You’re supposed to laugh. Were you born yesterday?
Joules: My humor app has not been activated. There, now it is. Ha ha ha. I was not born yesterday. I was born Tuesday, but I am learning fast.
Verne: Ah, forget about it, kid. You’re hopeless. Help me get this cleaner in the truck. Ya wanna gimme a hand? In fact, make it all four, we gotta hustle. We’ve got 35 more stops and nightlight savings time is over. Hey, be careful, you clumsy oaf! You almost pushed me in the pool. Why don’t you watch where you’re going, four-eyes.
Joules: I am sorry. Please, excuse me. I will be more careful...cyclops!
Verne: Hey, who are you callin’ a... touché, Joules. You are learning fast.
Joules: Tell me, Verne. You seem displeased or possibly angry. Don’t you like your job?
Verne: Well, to be honest, my social protocol chip was damaged when I was a kid playing with lasers. I do like the job. I like the routine. It never grows old. Mostly, the work is the same yesterday, today and hopefully tomorrow — with a few surprises now and then. When you’re older, Joules, you’ll find the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Joules: How long have you been doing pools?
Verne: Today makes two weeks.
Joules: Before robotics, how were pools serviced and repaired?
Verne: The people did it, I suppose, a long, long time ago.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." —A. Einstein