Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Vacuums

John Paul Peters lived in a hermit villa on the side of a mountain. He was a hermit, but he wasn't an ascetic - the word villa should clue the Dear Reader into the living conditions that John Paul Peters enjoyed. His bathroom alone cost more than buying a dozen votes on a municipal council. Refrigerated sconces held duck fat candles that were in a constant balance between melting and congealing. Tigers dressed in golden capes with platinum-plated teeth roamed through a paddock that wrapped around his villa, helping to keep John Paul Peters a hermit.

One day, his doorbell rang. Most hermits don't bother with doorbells since they're about as useful to a hermit as a book is to a bigot, but John Paul Peters needed another place to spend money so he installed the system. The ringer was an egg-sized ruby. John Paul Peters walked to the door, a gold-plated shovel in his hand to scrape whatever the tiger's hadn't eaten off of his porch (platinum-plated teeth caused gum irritation and made the tigers cranky).

A massive man stood on the porch, with a hefty backpack slung across his back. He looked whole - no tiger-sized chunks were missing.

John Paul Peters opened the door a crack and glared out of the slit. He hadn't taken any vow of poverty, but he had taken one of silence.

"Sir! Is the lady of the house at home?" the big man asked, his voice booming. No human speech had been issued in or around the villa in two decades. No radio stations or TV stations broadcast this far into the mountains. Not that it mattered, because John Paul Peters owned no TV and no radio. He didn't have a single piece of electronics in his entire house, save for the little robot that automatically vacuumed the massive hallways. He hadn't seen it in weeks, but that wasn't unusual considering the size of the villa. Occasionally in his evening strolls through the marbled hallways, there would be the faint echos of it bumping into a wrought iron table.

John Paul Peters opened the door slightly more, so that the man could see him shake his head no.

"Then may I speak with you?"

John Paul Peters shook his head.

"Before you say no," the man said, unslinging his pack, "let me show you some of the wonderful vacuum cleaners produced by the We-Don't-Blow Eletric Motor Company!"

John Paul Peters understood why this mountain of a man had gotten the job. His pack was a triple-reinforced lattice of steel cable and heavy canvas, designed to hold what looked to be hundreds of pounds of vacuum cleaner. He unpacked three, and laid them on the porch.

"This one is a wonderful model, its motor is one of the-"

The man never finished that sentence. Or any other sentence, for that matter. John Paul Peters heard the crash of breaking glass moments before an enormous and priceless vase from one of the upper bedrooms fell and pulverized the salesman's head. He also heard a faint whir.

The Moral: robotics laboratories are more dangerous than tiger paddocks.

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