If John Lewis sold Stepford Partners….

by Pseud O'Nym

The subject of sleep is very important to me, given that me being in the coma was long period of uninterrupted and blissful sleep, but since I woke up from my coma my sleep is typically of four to five hours duration and then I’m woken by either by birds greeting the arrival of a new day at 4 a.m. or a plane – being directly underneath a flight path – or a sadistic combination of both. And given that restful sleep is inextricably linked to rehabilitation, this has a rather unfortunate effect and so a few weeks ago I went to John Lewis to buy a new bed frame and mattress.

I’m happy to report that the bed was fine, however the mattress was less so. Whilst it seemed a bit firm in the shop, sleeping on it proved to be painfully firm. So I called up John Lewis, or rather a carer did as I’m hard to understand on the phone, and explained the problem. I had fully expected some kind of hassle, but to my amazement there was none; they were concerned that I wasn’t happy with the mattress and they were only too happy for me to come in and choose another one. So I did.

And the one I chose was very comfortable in the shop but sleeping on it was like sleeping on a marshmallow, way, way too soft. So a carer phoned up again and again I was expecting some hassle but no, “Come back in, if you’re not happy, let us make it so”. Quite why one of my housemates has taken to calling me Goldilocks is as utterly beyond me as I’m sure it is you. I know, some people eh!

This level of customer service got me thinking and what I thought was this, in some futuristic parallel world one can imagine John Lewis selling Stepford Partners.

If you haven’t seen the film, The Stepford Wives, here is a link to the plot. I’ll wait, because a quick reading of it will make what follows make sense if you do.

Work with me here….

Picture the scene. A quiet Tuesday afternoon in the not too distant future, a branch of John Lewis is deceptively busy. A young couple ask a shop assistant for help and the young female taps a few numbers into the back of the man’s head and he promptly falls asleep. The shop assistant says, “You look like you’re having trouble with that one,” to which the woman lets out a sigh of weary frustration, “Oh you’ve got no idea, when I bought it I was assured it was the latest in technology, but once I got it home I found it to be an updated version of a retro model.” The shop assistant furrows her brow and says in a voice teeming with concern, “ I’m sorry to hear that, which model number was it?” The woman rummages in her bag and produces some paperwork, “Let me see….yes, it was the Lawlor Supreme 15.”

At this news, the shop assistant’s face transforms into one of outraged astonishment. “Didn’t our customer service team get in contact with you about the recall of this particular model? We had to withdraw it from sale after two months after a deluge of complaints, it looks modern but it would seem the manufacturers saved money by fitting a retro chip instead of paying to have new software code written instead.”

“Oh”, says the woman, the relief evident in her voice as she says, “That would explain his boorish behaviour, the way he just sits around in the house all day and expects me to wait on him hand and foot, never lifting a finger except to open a beer can or to use the T.V remote. No interest in what I’ve done with my day, no ‘How was your day, you look done in, here let me run you a bath, relax with a long hot soak and a large glass of wine, and when you get out I’ll have cooked’ No, none of that!” she adds wistfully. The shop assistant, all helpful graciousness, says, “Yes……well thankfully that’s going to be all in the past..we can offer you a free exchange of a model of your choice and give you some expansion software packages for free…let’s start with make, any preference?” Thinking hard for a moment, she hesitates and then says in a faltering voice, “Well I’ve heard such horror stories about the American models and as for the British, well I always try to buy British when I can but really….”, “I know I know.” whispers the shop assistant conspiratorially, “But all of my friends have only good things to say about the Swedish models”.

“Ah yes.”, says the shop assistant, her face lighting up at this information, “You can’t go wrong with a Swedish model, now every customer has their own…tastes.” she says tactfully, ”What about the physical appearance”. “Oh”, says the young woman and answers with all the emotion of someone wrestling with the thorny issue of which shade of white paint to use in the hall, “Firm and toned but …not frightening….someone who looks good naked but not too good, not embarrassing to be seen with at the beach but won’t make me look like a beached whale in comparison…and with chest hair, a man should have chest hair, don’t you think?”, she adds as an afterthought.

The shop assistant smiles benignly, “Lots of women say similar things, I know exactly what you mean.”, she says, as she guides her deftly to a robot. “This is the Lund 69, it comes with all the usual features you’d expect as standard, conversation, etiquette, culinary skills, maintenance, housekeeping, grooming, shopping and of course bedroom, are all standard but of course you can upgrade now or at anytime.” “How long does it last and how long is it’s battery life….I’ve heard nightmare stories from friends about theirs powering down at the most inopportune moments.” She emphasises ‘inopportune’ to make sure the full horror of the word is grasped, and to make certain, she winces as she says it. “It has a twenty year guarantee, although with this manufacturer it’ll last far longer, although I doubt you’ll need it and its battery is based on Tyrell 51 and the Lund 69 tells you when you’re down to reserve power…and you can remove its memory chip when you upgrade to another model.”

The woman peruses through a brochure that the shop assistant has given her and asks, “The liberal values expansion pack, does that mean….?””

“Yes”, says the shop assistant, “It’s built to be fully conversant with current liberal values, can expound on them at length and is complete with logical reasoning skills to defend them and as a bonus comes equipped with a exponential learning lifetime software update, so it can keep abreast of the prevalent trends of liberal thinking and not become obsolete.”.

“And the bedroom?”, says the young woman. At this, the shop assistant wears a smile as wide as a harbour, “The ultimate package, it can initiate sex and can go without. It’s very low maintenance. Satisfaction guaranteed and of course it comes with an exponential learning software pack as standard.”

The young woman takes one final look at the model she brought in and says, “Can I leave it here for you to dispose of? And can I have the culinary supreme, the domestic god, the erudition luxury, the taste par excellance, the maintenance master and the foreign language oui expansion packs fitted as well…and they will all assimilate, learn as they go I mean?” “Of course madam….you’ve got….twenty slots to play with…they’re bringing out new ones all the time. If you’d like to have a cup of plant extract in our cafe and come back when you’ve finished, it’ll be ready to take home with you. Although you might want to pop into Menswear, as it only has on what you see”.

Gives a new meaning to John Lewis Partnership, doesn’t it?