by Jodi Lea Stewart

(See Original Article)

robotVerella awoke to the sound of her wrist ringing. Her wrist wasn’t really ringing, but the compact instrument strapped to it was shrilly demanding attention.

“Yes?” she groggily whispered after pushing the Comm-Respond button and rubbing her temples to ease the throbbing in them.

“Verella? Glad I caught you before you left the hotel. Need you to fax another copy of those figures to me before you get off to Cairo. What time is your flight?” Verella’s boss, Mr. Hummph, quizzed.

Working hard to control the ire rising in her, Verella paused a few moments to think.

Let’s see, she quickly calculated to herself, my plane leaves in two hours and I’ve only had three hours sleep—thanks to you, Mr. Hummph and that global board meeting you called in the wee hours by ringing our emergency X-bells on our palmtops!

“Verella! Did you fall back asleep?”

“No sir, I’m here. My flight leaves at 8 a.m. I’ll get those papers to you in a few minutes, Mr. Hummph.”

With seven of Hummph’s world-brokers working this week in Hong Kong, London, Brussels, Moscow, Paris, Sioux Falls (Iowa) and Never-Heard-of-It (Nevada), Verella wondered how he ever got any sleep.

As Verella took her fax machine out of her purse, connected it to the PC and issued a verbal code-connect into the Comm-Mike, she wondered if Mr. Hummph might be one of the new HU-ROBS that DocuDoctor and IBM had been perfecting since 1999.

Promising that she would check into that supposition, Verella clapped her hands. Travel Tom whirred to life—his red, green and amber lights twinkling.

TT, as she affectionately called her robot assistant, had Verella’s bags packed within five minutes. Now “he” stood holding a fresh-brewed mug of coffee and a microwave-warmed power bar.

A tray loaded with Verella’s makeup extended from TT’s left side and his top left computer panel was lit up and waiting for her makeup instructions for the day.

Magnetically, TT started the shower in the bathroom. He would be waiting with a warmed towel when she turned off the shower.

Less than 30 minutes later, Verella and TT emerged running from the EuroMarriott. As usual, TT carried all the luggage. Verella’s body was crisscrossed with shoulder straps connected to the pouches containing her computers, printers, calculators and world-connecting devices.

As she settled into her seat for the long flight to Cairo, TT worked at lightning speed to set up Verella’s in-flight office so she could start working immediately following takeoff.

Thank the galaxies I opted to be a businesswoman and not one of those poor, weird women who stay home and run a household, Verella thought to herself with a little shiver of disgust. Their lives are so demanding!
—The Collegian, Fort Worth, Texas, March 2, 1994—