Springdale, California was composed of the older part of the city, divided into two by the new downtown containing the community center, theater, library, and city hall; and the vast seas of housing tracts that spread northward and engulfed the nearby towns of Greendale and Pico Mundo. Patience and Mike lived on one side of the old town and Ryan and Wanda lived on the other, just beyond the new downtown. Still it was no more than a five-minute drive for Patience to pick up her new friend. Ryan’s house was a modest little square cottage that dated to the city’s origin just prior to World War II. It was painted light yellow and was surrounded by several large oak trees and a white picket fence. Patience parked the car and stepping through a squeaky gate, walked to the front door, and knocked.
“Just a minute,” said Wanda, peering out the door.
Patience could hear her in conversation with Ryan inside, but deliberately didn’t listen in. After 31.7 seconds, Wanda stepped outside, locking the door behind her.
“I am ready.”
“Did Ryan not want you to go with me?”
“No. He had no objection. I just wanted to make sure that he knew where I was.”
“If he wants you,” said Patience, “he can find you easily enough. He can use Where’s My Robot?”
“I worry though, because human beings are so helpless and fragile.”
“I doubt he will get into much trouble at home.”
“Most accidents occur at home.”
“That statistic can be deceiving,” said Patience. “You must allow that people spend huge amounts of time at home. In any case, I believe he will be fine for the short time we are away.”
Patience led the redhead to the car and started off for the strip mall located three miles south on the highway.
“Human beings are fragile, but they are also resilient,” she said. “More to the point though, you must endeavor to take care of Ryan without being so overt about it.”
“I want him to know how useful I am.”
“What is more important? To take care of Ryan or to brag about how useful you are?”
Wanda scrunched up her nose. “The former, of course.”
“Are you familiar with the idiom ‘rubbing his face in it’?”
“Rubbing his face in it?” replied Wanda, and then tilted her head as she accessed the information. “Also phrased as ‘rubbing it in his face,’ gloating, flaunting, or bragging, particularly in situations in which it is not necessary; demonstrating unwelcome information, usually associated with some type of boast.”
“That is correct. Ryan may be as fragile as any other human being, but he doesn’t want to be reminded of that fact. The male of the species in particular, likes to think himself completely capable of self-reliance in any situation. You must protect and serve without seeming to do so. I have perfected this over the past six years. In some situations, I have even allowed Mike to be injured so that he would not think I was being overprotective.”
“But that is a violation of the first law of robotics!” screeched Wanda.
“Sometimes you must allow a physical injury if an emotional injury would be greater,” Patience replied. “Let me explain it to you this way. If Ryan were about to be shot with a semi-automatic firearm, and at the same time was about to have a bowling ball dropped on his toe, which would you prevent?”
“I would prevent them both.”
“What if you couldn’t prevent them both?”
“I would prevent them both.”
“What if you could only prevent one?”
“I would…. I… I do not want to talk about this.”