Vignette 8: First peon

excited young woman on a balcony
Picture by Hero Images on iStock

I'm so excited! Today my peon will be arriving. I've been on the list now for six months and I thought I would never get one, but I got the message yesterday. They say that it will find its own way to me so no delivery, no collection or anything. I'm going to hang out here on the balcony all day and look for it. I wonder what it will be like having a peon?

Sarah got hers about a week ago, and we've been having fun making it do things. It will tell you anything you want; you just ask. So, it's like a search engine, or an AI assistant or something like that, but the answers are better. Also, it's cool that you don't have to carry it like a phone. Mostly it just sits near you, or on your shoulder if you're going somewhere. It fetches things too, only nothing too heavy, or that drains the battery.

Sarah's peon is small and round and light. She called it Brat, because that's what she calls her little brother and she said it felt about as pesky as he is. I wonder what I'm going to call mine? I haven't really decided. Sarah doesn't like being followed around, but I am quite excited.

They say that the peons learn from you. Eventually, my own peon will know me better than I know myself. Is that creepy? I don't know yet. I've never had a peon. I think it might be like having a best friend.

I wish I could get one of the cool ones, but mine is the standard government issue. Dad says if I want a cool one, I will have to do capitalism and get my own. I don't want it that much, ha ha.

I've been sitting out here on the veranda for about an hour now, and I'm tired of straining my eyes to look over the trees. The sky is bright today, and even with sunglasses, my eyes are getting sore. No sign of the peon.

I've been looking at lists of names. I've decided that I want a girl's name for my peon, because I want to think of it as my best friend and my best friends have always been girls. Sarah says I mustn't choose anything too long. She knows someone who called their peon Samkelisiwe, and ended up having to change the name. Peons don't seem to mind having their names changed, so I guess it doesn't matter too much.

I think I'll call mine Grace. I like the idea of my peon being graceful as it moves around behind me. I'd also like a peon that is polite and nice, so Grace seems like a good name.

Ha! My peon totally took me by surprise. I had given up waiting on the balcony and gone inside. I was lying on my bed reading when it just flew in, through the door on the balcony right down the passage, and into my bedroom. I can't believe it knew how to find me!

It landed on the bottom of the bed.

"Hi, I am your new peon. What do you want to call me?"

I got such a fright I said, "What?"

"Do you want to call me What?"

"No, no, that's not it."

I wonder how many peons out there get called What? Anyway, that must happen a lot because the peon was kind of nice about it.

It said, "Okay. You must choose a name for me. Do you want some time to think about it?"

I didn't have to think because I'd already decided on Grace. When I told it, it seemed pleased.

"Grace. Thank-you. I like that name. I am Grace."

I said, "Hello Grace. I am Thuli."

I asked, "So, what can you do?" Grace explained a few things and then told me to just ask when I want to know more. It felt weird, to be talking to this flattish white disc with feet. There are three little wings that unfold from the top and buzz when it moves, like a small drone. It’s kind of cute.

First, I had to transfer everything from my phone. That was easy. Grace just asked me if the white Tamtung was mine, and for permission to copy the data. Then she asked me things like do I want notifications or not. It was very easy, and the cool thing is that you don't have to fiddle with settings menus to get everything working.

Grace asked me about my daily routine and if there was anything that I wanted reminding of. It has this whole cool section called habits where it suggests habits to you and then helps you set up reminders so that you keep them. Things like what time did I want to wake up, if I wanted a reminder to drink water, to exercise and when to go to bed. I went with the drinking water habit, because that is something I've been meaning to do forever. I'm not so keen on exercising, ha ha.


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