Dan Rattiner's Stories

We Know You: Want Another Lexus? New Bedroom Toy? Just Click Here

I hadn’t seen Alexa in about five years. She’s about 10 now, and she’s growing like a weed, but she’s still as cute as ever. It was good to see her at the family reunion I went to in Pennsylvania.

“I go by Lexi, now,” she told me. “It keeps things from getting confused with our kitchen robot.”

I’ve been writing a lot about the new weather satellite that’s now orbiting the earth. It’s much more finely tuned than the old one, and it’s been operational since March, after a kind of shaky start. I’ve made calls to NOAA, sent emails to them back and forth.

On my cell phone, now, I’m getting these new messages every day. I hadn’t ordered them up. They just appear.

“The rain will begin at 3:46 p.m.,” is the one today. “Continuing off and on over next half-hour. The rain will be light. See what’s coming.”

Bulletins about a hurricane or nor’easter I would understand. But a light rain? What do they want from me? Are they trying to show off? What?

I bought a new car to replace the old 2008 Tahoe I’d been driving. The new car, bought at Southampton Lexus, is a 2014 Lexus GX-160 that I got on a three-year lease. It has all the safety bells and whistles, has four-wheel drive and goes on the beach. I love it.

After a few weeks, my wife began to talk about her getting a new car too. She’s been driving a 2006 Mercedes station wagon, so I said I thought she should look into a Lexus. She wound up with a brand new Lexus SE sedan with even more bells and whistles than mine. It’s a big deal getting new, or newer, cars. We hated the grille at first sight. Now we love the grille. When the cars face each other, they can kiss. We tell our friends about our new cars.

Since these two car purchases, comments, reviews and ads for where we can buy more Lexuses are appearing all over the place on our cell phones. This afternoon, I got one that read THE LEXUS SE IS NOT A WALLFLOWER ANYMORE. Yesterday I got a picture of a GX, the name of a car dealership near Patchogue, and the amount to pay for getting one on a three-year lease. How many Lexuses do they think we need?

I think you know where this is all going. Yes, you do.

But no, we don’t have an Alexa in our kitchen eavesdropping on every conversation. I thought maybe the refrigerator is writing all this down. But no.

One more. I use Fitbit to monitor my exercise and workout routine. It also measures my heartbeat and sleep. Lately it’s been behaving erratically. It would show I got eight hours of sleep, but later the next day if I took a nap, the nap time would appear but the all night sleep would be shortened to 7 hours and 10 minutes. Why would it do that? I called them. We tried a work around. Changed a setting. It still does it.

Now Fitbit ads are showing up on my cell phone all the time. Today’s was a review of the new Fitbit Versa wristwatch, which they have put out to compete against the Apple Watch. Surprisingly—because it has not been highly thought of by many reviewers—this one thinks it’s great, right on the money. It mentions the shortfalls written about elsewhere but says they are not important.

I think all this misbegotten personal attention is coming because of the reviews I am asked to fill out. They come onto my cell phone from Uber, wanting to know if I was satisfied with my last ride. Was the driver helpful? Was he courteous? Would I recommend him again?

Or from a restaurant app like Open Table. Could you rate the restaurant please? Five stars is highest, no stars is lowest. How did you enjoy the Fettuccini Alfredo? Was the waiter courteous? Did you have red wine or white? If red, how did you enjoy the two glasses of Duck Walk Vineyards cabernet?

Did you find the conversation you had with your guests about socialism amusing? What is your mother’s maiden name? Was the sex toy you bought last Thursday satisfactory?

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