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Well, I’ve been laid off. My organization just ordered 2 new robot volunteers. it’s a budget thing. See, the ‘roboteers’ don’t need lengthy policy orientation, or need someone to listen to their robot vacation stories, or need to call me for directions because staff mixed up Hunter Street with Gunter Lane.

Introducing, Compassion Nate 3000, and Evie Efficient XP. They have been carefully programmed by senior management to mimic what they believe real human volunteers say and do. Let’s look at their volunteering debut.

On his first day, Compassion Nate 3000’s eyes open and he hums, “I am the ultimate extra hands of helping.” Several pairs of robot claws unfold. He’s dropped off at a nursing home to visit Miss Aida where he scurries about, tidying up her room, throwing away the pictures her grandchildren drew because he mistook them for trash. Miss Aida wakes to see a metallic face peering down at her and she screams. Compassion Nate grabs her wrists and arms with several robot hands and holds her down, repeating in his electronic voice, “calm down human, I am your extra layer of caring.” Miss Aida continues to scream until one of the nursing home robots, Facility Friend 800 appears and puts Compassion Nate in a robot choke hold. Nate releases Miss Aida and turns, saying, “I am here to hold a hand.” He gives Facility Friend a crushing bear hug of loving support, turning her into scrap. A traumatized Miss Aida is subdued by real humans.


On Evie Efficient’s first day, she replaces all the volunteers who were scheduled to help at the walk/run. Assigned to the water station, she waits in the middle of the road. Her heart-shaped red light pulsating with robot love, she hands out water to the runners. As the startled runners make a wide arc to avoid her, she chases them, repeating in her robot voice, “I’m the cherry on top of our compassion sundae.” Frightened runners leave the course and run away in all directions, Evie zipping behind, throwing bottles of water at them. Her heart light morphs into a frustrated emoji face as she increases speed. “There’s no I in team but there’s a U in Roboteer, so let me care for you,” she emotes as she grabs the leg of a slow runner, tripping him. She uncaps a bottle of water and pours it over his horrified face, saying “I don’t get paid, because I’m priceless!” Law enforcement is called to quell the riot and an officer tasers Evie, who powers down, muttering, “Two hands….. one………. big…………………………. heart………………………………………… Daisy………………………….daisy…give me your answer true.”

Ahhhh, robot volunteers, such a great idea. But I think I’m going to sit by my phone tomorrow. I just might get a call.


a new take from 2013: https://volunteerplaintalk.com/2013/08/07/the-robot-volunteer/