Bite My Shiny Metal Inconvenience!

, , , , | Working | June 10, 2020

My husband used to work as a maintenance man at a large university hospital before he took a better-paying job at a local military base. One of the most vexing parts of his job was dealing with the robots that the hospital uses to transport non-crucial items such as paperwork and supplies. The hospital policy was that the robots had priority use of the elevators over hourly service staff.

Once, my husband was trying to respond to an overflowing toilet in a hard to access part of the hospital and there were seven robots ahead of him for the elevator, thus rendering him unable to quickly reach the overflowing toilet. Apparently, the toilet had completely flooded the bathroom before my husband could reach the spill, which created a huge mess that took my husband and other maintenance team members half a day to clean up and put the bathroom back in service. My husband has had it out for the bots ever since.

It is worth noting that the bots are fairly stupid machines that are unable to easily move around objects in their path. My husband and the other maintenance workers love messing with the bots if they get a chance. They once placed a slalom path of cones set five feet apart to see if the bot would go around them. The bot stopped at the first cone and malfunctioned.

The following exchange happens when I have an appointment at the hospital and we decide to mess with one of the bots at the hospital.

Husband: *To me* “Jump in front of the bot and see what it does.”

I jump in front of the bot’s path and it stops dead in its tracks and starts beeping. My husband and I start laughing like hyenas at the bot as it recalibrates and moves on. As we are doing this, a nursing student walks by and starts yelling at us.

Nursing Student: “What did you do to the robot?! You are hindering hospital operations! I am going to call security and have you both arrested!”

Me: “Arrested for what? A practical joke that did no harm? My husband used to be a maintenance man for [Hospital] and those bots hindered the operations of his job all the time!”

The nursing student sees a member of security, literally grabs him by the arm, and pulls him over to us.

Nursing Student: “These people—” *pointing at us* “—are hindering hospital operations by messing with the robot! You need to arrest them and ban them from the hospital!”

My husband actually knows this security guard very well.

Security Guard: “Hi, [Husband]! How is the new job? What is this young lady mad at you for?”

We explain that we were just messing with the bot. The security guard relates that the bots frustrate him and all of the other blue-collar workers at the hospital due to the fact that the hospital values the bots more than their service workers.

Security Guard: *To the nursing student* “Miss, I can’t arrest these people for annoying the bot. They didn’t vandalize the bot or hinder operations. The bot took a minute to recalibrate and it moved on; the bot is fine! Leave these people alone!”

The nursing student starts sputtering and accusing the security guard of being in collusion with us.

Nursing Student: “But the robots are more important than you low-level workers! The robots cost more than your measly salaries!”

The security guard is obviously annoyed.

Security Guard: “Leave now or I will have you arrested for breach of peace!”

The nursing student begrudgingly moved on and the security guard asked my husband if there were any job openings for security at the military base that my husband works at. My husband contacted HR at the base and put in a good word for him, and within a month, our security guard friend has a much better job working as a security guard at the military base. Why [Hospital] thought that robots were more important than actual human workers is beyond me!

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