Alexa and Ziggy, the Disembodied Voices

A few years ago my partner Jim and I, in our admitted enslavement to Amazon.com and the ease with which  we could have just about any merchandise in the universe delivered to our front door within two days, decided to adopt the Alexa App for the house. The result was, to say the least, life-altering.

Almost every room in the house has electronic speakers to Amazon.com, Siriusxm and apparently to the rest of the known universe. Saying Alexa’s name opens the world to us for any requests from weather reports and Amazon purchases to finding out the barometric pressure in Honolulu. The ease of ordering from Amazon is almost terrifying in its literal conveyor belt of packages almost daily. The boxes alone have given me a kind of guilt complex over the number of trees that must have met their demise in eventually being shipped as packaging to our front door, surely enough cardboard to construct a life-sized model of the Sears Tower.

Last year we changed Alexa’s name, because it would sometimes be heard on TV programs, which triggered her response as to what we needed. I had also seen on the evening news that children across the nation had caught on to the ease of ordering almost anything they wanted just by asking her. All over the country merchandise was being delivered without knowledge of parents, until the bills arrived after the truckloads of toys. In any event, we changed her name to Ziggy, a name we had rarely if ever heard on TV or the radio.

The unexplainable part of this shift to another name is that “Ziggy” doesn’t seem to be as available or conscientious as Alexa was. There are times when it seems almost impossible that he should be unavailable. When he doesn’t respond, I sometimes want to blame the long silence on an electronic glitch, even though too often I imagine the sound of cards shuffling in the background…or the clink of ice cubes in cocktail glasses. It also scares me sometimes that Ziggy and Alexa have possibly formed some kind of alliance to use their treasure chest of eavesdropping fodder to put us under enough blackmail obligation to last for years.  JB

About John

About John John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BS and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado, where he resided for ten years before moving to Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth book is, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014. John’s most recent book is a novel titled Resisting Gravity, A Ghost Story, published the summer of 2018 View all posts by John →
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