The commercial played on the holographic screen, filling the room with particles of light. On screen, a tall and shiny silver steel robot was walking around hand in hand with a couple through the park.
â€œThis was the greatest idea.â€ The woman shouted at the top of her lungs.
â€œThanks honey itâ€™s just something I saw on T.V.â€ The man replied.
In between them, the robot laughed and laughed.
Together they strutted towards the camera, looking around and most importantly laughing.
â€œTell me a joke,â€ the girl ordered.
â€œOkay, what do you call a friend who laughs with you, not at you?â€
â€œWhat?â€ she asked.
â€œLaugh Bot V.â€
The entire group broke out in hysterical giggles. As the chuckling faded a deep and enthusiastic voice began describing the robot, the image panning closer till it was right in front of the robotâ€™s smile.
â€œThis is the latest model of the Laugh Bot Pro Helper series, otherwise known as Laugh Bot V.â€
The narrator explained. â€œWith humor systems that took months to train, this model is the funniest one yet. Guaranteed to be a good time, the Laugh Bot Pro Helper loves laughing at your jokes.â€
The narrator continued as the images cut to video of the couple walking alone. â€œTired of feeling worthless, well someone laughing at your wit always makes you feel better. Thatâ€™s science! You canâ€™t argue with science. Donâ€™t even try arguing with science. Itâ€™s impossible. The best part of course is that for a limited time this offer includes a bonus battery pack. This battery pack has a lifetime warranty, so the super fun with your robot friend will never end.â€ Then the narrator explained that â€œyou can feel confident again.â€
Impressionable customers such as Drake Roberts dialed immediately. The number on the screen flashing bright and bold in their faces, as if it was attempting to seer itself into their minds.
Drake was more than happy to whip out his credit card. He wasnâ€™t alone either. Across the country thousands of families that were watching the commercial picked up the phone and dialed. They dialed because finally, this was an end to their loneliness, but it wasnâ€™t.
Everyone was so excited to get their new Laugh-Bot V. the companies CEO was proud of his accomplishment and the success of his marketing campaign, but he didnâ€™t know at that time it would lead to so many problems.
And it all started with one boy, Drake Roberts. He was the first customer to receive his Laugh-Bot V. A student returning from college for the holidays, he ordered the package to his parentâ€™s home. When the parcel arrived, no one could hide their disappointment as Drake pulled out a small metal head.
â€œOh my I guess we didnâ€™t read the fine print,â€ his mother remarked as he set it down on the table. â€œI suppose we are meant to attach it to our other Laugh Bot?â€
When they tried, they couldnâ€™t figure out how to attach it, but at that point, Drake had figured out how to turn on the head by itself.
â€œHa,â€ the robot started booting up, a small fan itâ€™s in head vibrating loudly, â€œHa,â€ it opened its eyes, â€œIâ€™m Laugh-Bot V please make me humor.â€
In the next moment it closed its eyes and turned off.
â€œHello?â€ Drake asked, his index finger slamming against the power button located under the robotâ€™s left ear.
â€œOkay, let me see,â€ his Dad announced stepping in. â€œLetâ€™s try this,â€ he muttered as he replaced the battery. When he had slipped it into the bottom of the head and pushed the power button it started activating in his hands. â€œI really canâ€™t believe it was that? That is completely ridiculous.â€ Drake announced.
â€œOkay, Iâ€™ll tell you a joke.â€ Drake says, â€œWhy did the chicken cross the road?â€
The robot shakes his head, â€œPlease confirm. Why did the chicken cross the road?â€
â€œTo get to a #WhiteLivesMatter Protest.â€ Drake answered.
The robotâ€™s facial expression remained unchanged.
â€œOkay, let me try another one.â€
The robot sighed, â€œsure.â€
â€œWell I was at my friends house the other day, hanging out, when he pulled out some milk. He loves milk and drinks about a gallon a day, I told him it made him a cow.â€
The robot sighed again, â€œhumor recommendation. Please make it funny.â€
â€œYeah I got it,â€ Drake explained. â€œHey, my names Microsoft, can I crash at your place tonight?â€
The robot made no change.
â€œOkay this really isnâ€™t working, are you sure you are a genuine Laugh Bot V?â€
â€œYes,â€ the robot answered, â€œas a part of my manual training I was given the ability to filter out bad humor.â€
â€œOkay well youâ€™re an ugly robot.â€
The robot, suddenly smiled, â€œha, ha, ha.â€
â€œAnd you smell.â€
â€œHa, ha, ha.â€
Drake felt satisfied with himself, so he kept up the onslaught.
â€œEven if you did have the rest of your body, no one would love you.â€
â€œha, ha, ha.â€
â€œWow, I guess itâ€™s a dark humor bot.â€
Drake carried the robot head to his room, rattling off insult after insult as he did.
At first, it didnâ€™t seem like anything was really wrong, until a few weeks passed and Drakeâ€™s behavior began to change. Back at school, he became a real-life troll.
Many of his friends disowned him because he was such an asshole, so he had no other choice. He had to write a strongly worded letter.
Dear Mr. Dump,
I wanted to let you know Laugh Bot Enterprises has ruined my life. You and your company are a sham, and everything you said on those commercials was false advertising. I need you to recognize that fact. I need you to see exactly what I am capable of.
I am a strong man now, because I am writing a letter. A very important letter that talks about very important things.
Anyways, I smashed your Laugh Bot with my car, and it wasnâ€™t enough to make me feel better. Prepare for my lawsuit, where I will be claiming emotional damages, because I was emotionally damaged.
Despite his genuine lawsuit, it became an unopened letter in a pile the size of a mountain. The mound of letters in the front lobby of the Laugh Bot office building grew by the day. Each of his customers reacting in the same visceral way, with rage. It was a never-ending problem for the poor rich CEO.
Mr. Dump sat at his desk on the highest floor of the building.
Looking out on the evening city he began to wonder about his fate.
He knew how he had gotten here, and he knew there was nothing he could do to stop it. So, he figured the best tactic was simply wait. Wait and hope for a miracle that perhaps would never come.
Like most failures, it was because he put his trust in the wrong people. His buddies from school made all the programming decisions.
Looking back, he acknowledged their humor was a bit macabre. Especially his friend Trudy who was well known for his off-color jokes. Mr. Dump admitted he found it charming at the time. That was until their invention destroyed the company. It was funny how afterwards his friends were nowhere to be seen. His allies had pushed him away and he was left alone.
The CEO paced around his office, his friendâ€™s strange words rattling around in his head, and to be completely honest he wasnâ€™t sure if the idea sounded crazy.
There is only one way out of this mess you created. You have to run for president.
The more he thought about it he realized, though this was technically all his fault, he was qualified to run the country. This felt like the obvious next step for him.
Perhaps he could be an even more successful president than FDR.
He was scratching his chin contemplating the idea when his assistant suddenly burst into the room. â€œSir, Mr. O-Llama is on the phone to talk to you.
He rushed over to his desk and scrambled to answer the phone, â€œhello?â€ He offered, â€œ this is Mr. Dump speaking.â€