The Robot

This is by Clynch Varnadore of PUNY.

There was a mad scientist who hated to do menial household chores. In particular, he hated kitchen-related chores such as dishes, putting away groceries, etc. In order to avoid wasting valuable “experiment” time with these chores, he invented a robot to do them.

The robot, which he named ‘George’, would spend an hour or two each day cleaning up the kitchen, doing dishes, that sort of thing, then it would go back to its closet and recharge until the next day. The scientist discovered that it was best for his schedule if the robot did the chores in the morning, so he programmed it for that.

As mad scientists are wont to do, our friend had his whole life on a schedule and that included grocery shopping. Every two weeks, on Monday, from 9 to 10 AM he would do his shopping, purchasing enough groceries to last for the two weeks until his next trip. Every other Monday, at 10 AM, he would return home and put his groceries away.

This Monday, however, was different. He dropped the sacks into the kitchen, told the robot to put away the groceries, and returned to his work.

When he went into the kitchen for lunch, all was as usual; the kitchen was sparkling, the groceries put up.

The scientist was quite proud of his accomplishment until he opened the fridge. Everything in it was wrapped in aluminum foil! He opened the cupboards; again, every grocery item he had just purchased was wrapped in foil!

The scientist immediately pulled out his programming records for the robot and spent 2 days puzzling over them. He could find no error, no problem, nothing to explain why the robot had wrapped everything in foil. He decided to try an experiment, so he went a bought a few things from the store and brought them back. He instructed the robot to put them away, and stayed to watch.

The robot performed perfectly, with one exception, it did not cut the larger chunks of meat into smaller chunks and wrap them up for freezing, even though it was programmed to do so.

The scientist bought more groceries and tried several experiments, and it was always the same: If no groceries needed repackaging, the robot did quite well. If some groceries needed repackaging, but the robot was left alone, it would wrap everything. If the scientist stayed with the robot it would refuse to repackage anything.

After several days of trying to make the perverse hardware perform correctly, the mad scientist was finally forced to admit defeat. However, he never lost his sense of humor, which caused him to remark, “A watched ‘bot never foils!”

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