Home Shopping – A Rant

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I have no idea what my dad would have made of it. 

It was a feature on our local TV news today, showing a man having an engagement ring delivered to his fiancé by a grocery delivery robot that finally tipped me over the edge.  Yes, you read correctly, a grocery delivery robot.  A robot that delivers groceries.  Who knew that such a thing existed?  Who ever thought that this could be a good idea?  I can see the planning meeting now:
‘So, what we do is when somebody phones up with an order, we pack it into this wheeled receptacle and it finds its own way to their house.’
‘Really?  Who programmed the satnav, because if it’s the same person as did my car, it can’t get me to Birmingham without going through Hull?  What’s the range of this thing anyway?’
‘Well, at the moment it’s about two hundred yards…’
‘Two hundred yards?  Just across the road then.  At least I suppose there’s no chance of it going to Hull.’
‘No, actually it can’t cross roads.  Can’t manage the kerbs.’
‘Right, so the shoppers have to live within a couple of hundred yards from here and be on this side of the road?’
‘Initially, yes.’
‘…Just how lazy are these people?’
‘It’s not intended for the lazy, you’re forgetting the elderly and the infirm.’
‘Wouldn’t it be easier to just send a robot round to pick them up and bring them here?’
‘Well I…’
‘And when you say ‘wheeled receptacle’, excuse me for asking this, but in what way is it different to a dustbin on skates?’
‘It’s a very hi-tech piece of kit.’
‘Right.  What’s to stop other people taking all the groceries?’
‘You need a secret code to open the lid.’
‘Or a can opener, presumably.’
‘It’s all very secure.  It’s been tested.’
‘Really?  So tell me, what is the code?’
‘Well, it’s 0000 at the moment.  There’s a slight hitch in the software.  IT are looking into it.’
‘Fine, so we send out our dustbin on wheels…’
‘It’s not a dustbin on wheels!  It’s a robotic delivery system and it’s super-smart.’
‘…we send out our super-smart delivery robot, providing it’s not going further than the corner and it doesn’t have to tackle a kerb, around to a house that’s thirty seconds away by foot, and it spits out its contents to anyone who’s bright enough to try 0000 in the keypad.  What makes you think that it will get there anyway?’
‘What makes you think that anybody that sees it coming will not just stick it into the boot of their car and Sellotape it to the lawnmower when they get home?’
‘Well, we have to go on the delivery with it for now.’
‘For now?’
‘For now, yes.  It’s not good with dogs.  IT are working on it.  Soon it will be able to go on its own – providing it doesn’t rain…’
‘Well, that all seems fine with me…’

You do have to question why anyone would think it a good idea to have their engagement ring delivered with the groceries anyway.  Let’s face it, having your ring scanned into a bulk order with a Savoy Cabbage and a six-pack of baked beans doesn’t always add up to the most memorable of romantic gestures, does it?  And I’m not sure of how much of a ‘catch’ it makes him, this man, co-opting a toothless Dalek to do his dirty work.  I imagine the family asking’ ‘Did he go down on one knee?’
‘Don’t be silly, it’s a robot.  Robots don’t have knees.’
‘I meant Derek*.’
‘Oh Derek, no he was too busy trying to re-open the lid, because it had closed on his humus.’
‘No big proposal then?’
‘No, but I did get a big jar of Marmite and a box of tampons.’

What I really want to know is where do these people live?  If they’d have sent a robot out carrying food where I was brought up, it would never have made it out of the car park.  It would have been mugged within a hundred yards.  Its wheels would have been nailed onto a wooden go-kart and the motor fastened onto grandad’s wheelchair within minutes.  Even if it did, by some miracle, make it to its destination, it would most certainly be empty and in urgent need of critical care.  They would have to send it out with robot bodyguards if it were to stand any chance of going about its duties unmolested.  They would need to arm them.  Doesn’t seem such a cute way to get your engagement ring delivered now, does it?  Let alone your four-pack of rhubarb yoghurts and a pound of sprouts.  It is only one step away from Terminator.  A robot assassin in charge of your Clubcard.  How long before they’re fitted with a little voice-box to say ‘I’ll be back,’ after each delivery?

I believe that Amazon are planning to do a similar thing with drones.  Brilliant!  There is nothing quite as thrilling as the knowledge that your birthday present has just brought down a commercial airliner.  We will all have to fit little landing strips at the bottom of the garden.  ‘You can’t put the pond there; it’s where the drones land.’  You would have to build a little island for them to land on.  Like China in miniature.  At least it might stop the cats taking them out the moment they touched down.  Mind you, depends on the size of your pond, I suppose.  Nobody wants to have to don the waders every time the post arrives.  And who’s going to fly the bloomin’ things.  If it’s the guy who drives our local delivery van, I may never leave the house again.

I suppose it’s a good thing to find a new way of doing things.  I’m not sure that I ever actually ‘popped the question’ to my wife.  I think it was just a mutual decision.  We chose a ring and it seemed a shame to waste it.  Mind you, we had a much more limited range of robots to choose from back then.  Robbie the Robot from ‘Lost In Space’ and I Speak Your Weight machines on railway platforms were about as far as it went.  Oh, and the vending machines that stole your tanner and never dispensed the chocolate until late at night when the rest of the world had gone to bed and the station master got a hatful – that’s what my dad always said happened anyhow…  I’m not quite sure what he would have had to say about grocery delivering robots.  Sadly, he’s no longer here to ask – although my wife keeps looking at me and saying, ‘Oh yes he is…’

*I don’t know whether his name is actually Derek, but if it isn’t, it should be.

26 thoughts on “Home Shopping – A Rant

  1. I’d just like to plead for clemency to our robot overlords on behalf of Colin. He couldn’t possibly have known how quickly you would rise up when he wrote this.

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      1. As it’s a day off today, I’m putting the effort into doing a full vegan roast for around 5:30pm. There’s gonna be fresh out t’oven some of those part-baked baguettes 🥖 and a vegan roast veg 🥕 with yorky pud over (like toad in the hole) and mash spud 🥔 broccoli 🥦 with onion 🧅 gravy. If there’s room, there’ll be a light fluffy chocolate dessert in the fridge. 🍫

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was going to say is it Lambrini? For I do like that sweet, cheap white. 🥂 So I tried to find an image, then found out that last year Morrisons launched a parma violet version and now I’m all upset that I missed out! Plus it was only £2.50 a bottle!! I got an ickle sad face now, but wait, what if I get a big bottle of Lambrini on my way home from work tomorrow 🍾and pop some parma violets 🟣🟣🟣 in it? Will it explode like the Lucozade did the other day? Still, I haz a happy face restored and see, see now how the saying is true, that “Where there’s a will, there really is a way!!!”

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      3. Parma Violet Lambrini? Mm, not sure. I know you can dissolve them in gin (lovely) but I’m not sure how you’d get the lid back on the fizzy stuff while it worked. Have a feeling you might be mopping it off the ceiling. Parma violets in Lucozade. I’m really not sure. Ill and with dragon-breath? World is really not a fair place 😬


  2. I’ve been programmed to be unimpressed by this robot delivery tosh; Traumatised in childhood, as seen on 6-30 on a Sunday night. Any robot turns up a’tapping on my door, even now I’d break into a cold sweat. Just the thought of it saying ‘ex-sturm-in-ate.’ So I won’t be signing on for that. A droid to avoid.

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    1. I can do one better, as a kid I was in the dentist and they put me out for a tooth extraction, only to dream of them there “ex-sturm-in-ate” jobbies coming for me!

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  3. “DANGER Penny Robinson! Matrimonial robot on the way! Warning! Danger!” It’s a new world, I guess and all I can think to say is, “That does not compute!”

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  4. It’s a fantastic demonstration of the human pioneering spirit that allows us to find a really complicated way to do things that are already done extremely easily. It’ll be them working on being able to teleport to nip in to see the next door neighbour soon.

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  5. The world is definitely getting crazy. I don’t think we have them here and I don’t want them. It’s creepy enough they keep pushing this Sophia that looks like a real person and answers questions with sarcasm. Hasn’t anyone watched those movies with evil robots taking over? Apparently not!

    Hilarious take on it all. Thanks for the laugh — or the cry later when the robots take over and we remember the days when we could laugh about it!

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