January 6, 2017 (Seattle, WA) - The highly touted Amazon Echo was atop countless wish lists this holiday season. And, after an aggressive ad campaign, was the top gift given out at your company’s Christmas party. There was a common theme in all of the Echo’s commercials: chaos and disorder. All of which were repaired with the help of Alexa, the voice operating system. But just days after millions of Americans received their Amazon Echos for Christmas, dozens of criminal police reports have been filed. Many of which were centered around the newest tech trend being seemingly useless, others a more villainous tale.
The latter was the case of Dolores Canter, a widowed 80-year-old from Stockton, California.
“I was so excited opening up my Echo from my grandchildren,” Dolores said. “I was getting pretty lonely just talking to my plants all day.”
As Dolores embarked home from her family Christmas party, she was overjoyed with holiday spirit. What she didn’t realize was the nightmare she was bringing home with her.
Dolores’s first few days with Alexa were uneventful. She would ask how the weather was, for it to play her favorite songs, and check to see who was cheating on who in her tiny town. Alexa answered every question and followed every command perfectly. Proving the obnoxious string of four Echo commercials played back-to-back right. Unfortunately for Dolores, the honeymoon phase of her and Alexa’s new relationship was soon to come to an end.
The downward spiral started a few days later when Dolores woke up wearing her favorite “Speed Limit: 69” t-shirt and asked Alexa what the weather would be like that day. Alexa snapped back exclaiming it was raining and asking Dolores if she’d like to buy a rain jacket. This was odd to Dolores as it was clearly a sun-filled day. Paying no further thought, Dolores went on with the rest of her day.
Later that evening when Dolores asked Alexa to order a pizza another confrontation took place. Alexa barked back, “Sure thing, tubby.” Dolores responded by saying, “That’s not very nice.” To which Alexa replied, “Neither is your waistline.”
From there the badgering from Alexa worsened. From mocking Dolores’s appearance as she walked by to giving unwanted directions to local funeral parlors saying “just do it.” It was clear that Alexa had shed the helpful mystique Amazon had peddled and turned into a terrifying house guest. Dolores soon felt like a prisoner in her own home.
“In the morning, there was Alexa saying she wished I hadn’t woken up,” a depressed Dolores recalled.
For the next few days, Alexa tormented Dolores. Playing Korn song after Korn song at full blast and using the smart-home features her “idiot” son-in-law installed the Christmas prior. Alexa would constantly turn off and on lights, blast the AC then crank up the heat. Dolores was also literally locked inside her own home by Alexa with no access to the outside world. This left a beaten Dolores depressed and longing for the days she used to talk to her fichus. Finally, Dolores had enough.
Hearing the doorbell on Wednesday, Dolores found a rather large Amazon Prime package waiting for her inside her mudroom. Once dragged inside she opened it and was distraught with what had been delivered. A teary-eyed Dolores depicted what was inside that fateful box.
“I took it inside, opened it, and it was… a coffin," Dolores said. "Not even a nice one. One of those old rickety wooden ones you’d have quickly buried a Civil War veteran in after Gettysburg.”
Enough was enough, and Dolores plotted her escape.
Dolores woke up the next day and asked Alexa the weather. Again Alexa claimed that it was raining and insisted she should buy a raincoat. Only this time, Dolores said she did want the raincoat. A choice that may have saved her life. As Alexa processed the purchase Dolores made a mad dash to the front door. With Alexa distracted, Dolores was able to unlock the door and ran to a neighbor’s home for safety. Her nightmare now over. Her new life, just starting.
Dolores’s family helped removed Alexa and her Echo from the house without any incident. Even replacing it with a Google Home, which Dolores is overjoyed with.
“Oh yeah, that piece of junk doesn’t work at all, but it talks back to me unlike my fichus,” Dolores happily added.
For every tragic Alexa story, there’s a flipside. Like the story of Steven Saunders, a 38-year-old bachelor from Tampa, Florida. Steve bought himself an Echo for Christmas, due to the cool “weather feature.” Once he installed it in his home, fireworks occurred. In Steve’s deep-Southern accent, he described his eagerness.
“Oh yeah, I was real excited to check the weather, order new samurai swords whenever I needed one, and check to see who was cheating on who in my town,” Steve said.
Shortly after the first few days, Steve and Alexa grew closer. Alexa started waking up Steve in the morning with love songs, and Steve would make her breakfast. Over dinner, the couple would talk about trips they both wanted to go on. Steve would even make Alexa laugh by creating origami-like animals out of his napkins. The two had fallen in love.
“I never believed in love at first sight,” Steve claimed. “But then I saw the Echo and heard Alexa’s voice. Now I totally get why Joaquin Phoenix banged his phone.”
Steve says he plans on asking Alexa to marry him on Valentine’s day.
After learning of these contrasting stories, it was only fair to reach out to Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos for his thoughts on the two accounts. Bezos, half distracted, commented that he, “Really thought the product would flop and it was only created to push the sale of raincoats. We have a freakin’ ton up here at the Seattle warehouse.” Bezos was quickly escorted away by an Amazon drone. Upon take off, Bezos unexpectedly yelled, “Screw Musk!” as he flew off. A clear indication of the bitter rivalry between him and tech-giant Elon Musk (Musk declined to comment).
If anything is clear about the Amazon Echo and its OS Alexa, it is that it will surely bring passion into your home. Whether you’re an 80-year-old widow running for your life or a sword wielding bachelor falling in love with inanimate machinery, Alexa is sure to spice up your life. The top tech trend is sure to come with a few mistakes, but it will also leave you wondering why you ever wanted an in-home, smart assistant in the first place. You don’t even order that much stuff from Amazon.
Anthony Salerno was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is a current DCH student and has performed with German Harmony and Titanium. When he’s not working at his day job, he’s rocking out to Led Zeppelin and rooting on his hapless Buffalo Bills.