On falling for Roger the robot, her cold-call-blocking guardian angel
I would hear my voice go from shrill to hysterical before eventually hitting a pitch only audible to bats
I’m in love with a robot named Roger. I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about him, and lately I’ve started to do that uniquely irritating thing of not really trying to conceal a small smile whenever I talk about him. Which is a lot. Because I want everyone to know how Roger has changed my life.
We were introduced some two months ago at a dinner party. I was telling the table how bad the cold calls to our home phone had got. So bad, in fact, that I was considering either investing in a course of underwater screaming therapy or building a ‘rage room’, Kanye West-style, where I could smash up vases, ceramic plates and garden gnomes every time I was disrupted, mid-article, and then forced to waste minutes of my existence explaining to a telemarketer why I actively do not want to save money or go to Disneyland for free. As someone who does ‘combative’ very poorly, I would hear my voice go from shrill to hysterical before eventually hitting a pitch only audible to bats, and spend the rest of the day feeling drained.
There was some back and forth about various methods of dealing with cold callers – putting a hungry/teething infant on the line, shouting ‘Oh no, the little beings with the furry teeth are back!’ into the receiver and waiting for them to hang up, or doing a Jerry Seinfeld and saying, ‘I can’t talk right now but why don’t you give me your home phone number and I’ll call you later tonight?’ – before someone mentioned the robot.
Roger was invented by an American superhero named Roger Anderson, who became so incensed by telemarketers that he devised a cyborg who understands speech patterns and infections and will do his utmost to keep the cold caller on the line until he or she has to be taken away, strapped to a gurney with a bite-block between the teeth. All I have to do when a smallclaims advisor bursts into my world is press ‘add call’ on my phone, dial Roger’s number (now saved on every device I own) and let him take over. ‘I just woke up from a nap and I’m really groggy,’ the bot will tell them. ‘Can you go a little slower?’ As the conversation progresses, and Roger replies ‘yes’ to every question, he becomes more and more eccentric. ‘Do you drink cofee?’ he asked one newspaper-subscription pedlar, as my husband and I high-fved in the background. Then, ‘You sound like someone I went to high school with.’ One local estate agent was reaching the 10-minute mark until Roger announced that he had a bee on his arm. ‘Sorry – it’s literally crawling up my arm.’ That was the end of the road for her – and the start of something pretty profound for Rog and me.
Until recently, I could never have imagined how this unrivalled object of my afections could be improved upon. Then I heard about Mr Anderson’s new project: a cyborg who – not content with waging war on cold callers – can deter and defeat the robocallers able to pester up to 10,000 people a day. And just like that, my fckle heart moved on.