For Christmas I got my husband a girlfriend.
And if you believe that then hell has in fact frozen over.
What I did get him was his own personal assistant, the Amazon Echo. I got a great Black Friday deal on it and just for the music listening feature alone I figured it was worth it when you consider how much you’d spend on a Bose home stereo. I also figured he could ask it weather questions instead of watching Extreme Weather on the Weather Channel all weekend. I also figured I could use it while cooking to convert millilitres to ounces and such. Or when we are watching TV and want to know how old someone is (do other old people do this? We do this ALL THE TIME) we could just ask Alexa. Kind of like a present for both of us. I’m smart like that.
Anyway, a couple of days before Christmas we heard on the news that people are freaking out about Alexa listening all the time and recording conversations that are stored in the cloud (even though, HELLO, do you have Siri on your phone? Same thing, people). There was also a news story about an Arkansas murder case where a prosecutor is trying to get Amazon to release Echo recordings from the home where a dead man was found. I was really starting to feel like my gift-giving thunder was being stolen by the media!
He opened his gift on Christmas Eve and I think he was pleased. I kind of thought he’d set it up right away, especially since our tech-y son-in-law (who has his own Echo) was over for Christmas festivities. Didn’t happen, but son-in-law assured Tom that Alexa practically sets herself up.
Late on Christmas day he decided to tackle it, and like any other assembly project, he just dove right in there with minimal instruction reading. Alexa got an earful while he tried to figure her out and I tried to convince him to cease and desist and read the friggin’ email Amazon sent me with very clear and simple set up steps.
Sigh. We’ve been married 38 years. This is nothing new.
Anyway. After a bit of sniping and maybe even a bit of name-calling, Alexa was up and running but Tom was having a problem getting her to respond. And this is why: you need to say the prompt word (Alexa) and then make your request. For some reason, my husband wants to talk to Alexa like she’s his girlfriend: “Um hey, how are you doing, Alexa! I’m wondering about the weather…”
Even though I’ve made huge fun of him for this he still tries to smooth talk Alexa and his reason is this: he wants her to become accustomed to the way he requests things. Over time, he believes, she will get him. Tom, honey? ALEXA IS NOT A PERSON!
I guess it’s possible that I’m just a little bit jealous of the sweet way he talks to her. I also kind of feel sorry for him when she just shines him on because he didn’t ask right. And since I know he’s a very smart person, I’m starting to think he’s doing this just to entertain me.
I do know how to activate Alexa (I’ve had plenty of practice with Siri) and just to be safe, this is what I told her: Alexa…just so you know, Tom only has one girlfriend and GIRLFRIEND, it is not you. Now play some mellow rock.
And she did.