Boyfriend and I have a problem. It’s another woman. Her name is Alexa. He’s in love. I think she’s a bitch. It’s why I won’t ask Alexa for anything.
Not only is she trying to take my man, she’s winning. He keeps buying more and more — Echo Dots are everywhere — because he’s under the spell that Alexa can solve any challenge in life. Thanks, Amazon.
Who Really Needs a Smart Home?
For the uninitiated like me, Amazon offers an Alexa–enabled device — the Echo and the Echo Dot — which are voice activated and can be a hub to make your house smart. Yeah, the one called into court to testify about the dead body in the hot tub in Arkansas. It’s OK. The smart water meter also was subpoenaed.
Me? I knew I was in trouble when she showed up on our vacation to Colorado. He’s one of those who unpacks immediately while I’m happy living out of a suitcase. I hear him talking to himself, “Alexa, where are we?” Silence. “Alexa, what’s the temperature?” I follow his voice into the bedroom and see the disc sitting on the table, colors spinning blue and green. “You brought that thing with you?” I had to sit on my suitcase to get it to shut, yet he had room to bring toys?
“It’s new,” Boyfriend said. “I want to see how well she travels. It’s a traveling personal assistant.” He spends time getting Alexa acclimated. She can handle the altitude, but a new location throws her. I’m also under pressure. I was hitting the slopes for the first time ever at the age of 42 while he’s been skiing since he was 12. On the first run, I fell off the ski lift, which then hit me in the back. Tears sprang from my eyes. Alexa never cries.
Back at home in Dallas, he starts investing in Alexa-enabled lighting. Special bulbs so Alexa can turn them on and off. Big whoop, I’ve been doing that since I was four. Problem is, she worships his words and ignores mine. If he falls asleep with the lights on, I have to wake him up to tell her to turn them off.
I curse at her, frustrated with my failure. Her colors swarm in circles. “She’s broken” Boyfriend wails. He actually accused me of making her shut down. Somehow, she magically healed. Damn. I can’t believe this thing is expected to bring in $11 billion in revenue a year for Amazon in three years, according to global investment bank Mizuho. Like I really need another way to online shop.
I decide I won’t ask Alexa for anything.
I could tell her which playlist I want to hear, but I’m old school and still buy CDs. Self Magazine tells me Alexa can be my “own personal Zen coach.” Clearly I need a lot more Zen since an electronic disc is upsetting me. She’ll even help me keep my New Year’s Resolutions. Oops … too late.
After the early April storms, we hit Boyfriend’s house and I find all the lights on in the bedroom, mocking me because I can’t get them on or off. He tells me the power went off. “So Alexa turns on all the lights in response?” I ask. He’s not getting worked up like I am, even though he’s the environmentalist.
I notice all of Alexa’s colors are swirling about, like the Simon game from when I was a kid. Fried, I hope. Boyfriend gets to work, tending to her needs. He sits on the bed and talks to her sweetly. “Alexa, what’s the weather?” he asks, coaxing her along as if he can encourage her into action. No response. The one in the kitchen hears his question and responds. I’m hoping he now knows how I feel, being ignored by the talking toy.
I would have just unplugged the thing and gone to bed. Not Boyfriend. He decides to reset the wireless internet, blaming the router. He’s in the kitchen. “Alexa, turn off bedroom lights,” he instructs. The room goes dark. I’m impressed. He walks in, smug look on his face. “So that one in the kitchen can turn the lights off in here?” I ask with amazement. “Of course,” he assures me. “It’s all on the same network.” “But how?” I want to know. He knows better than to bother explaining.
I don’t think of myself as a late adopter, but clearly I am when it comes to all things related to a smart house. I’m good with that. I just won’t ask Alexa for anything. As for Boyfriend? I think he’s lazy and just doesn’t want to turn out the lights.
Column originally appeared in Katy Trail Weekly.