A Bad Day for Sales (Leiber)

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A Bad Day for Sales
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A sales robot named Robie interacted with people on a busy street, offering various products, until a sudden explosion destroyed the area and left Robie confused and unable to comprehend the situation.

A robot named Robie was the demonstration model of a line of sales robots to be manufactured by Shuler Vending Machines. Robie was designed to search for customers and sell them various products, such as candy, drinks, and magazines. One day, Robie was out on Times Square, demonstrating his abilities to a crowd of people. He interacted with children and adults alike, offering them various items for sale.

Robie — sales robot; mobile vending machine; smooth voice; turtle-like appearance.

Robie was still a novelty. Robie was fun. For a little while yet, he could steal the show.

As Robie continued to entertain the crowd, a sudden explosion occurred in the city, causing destruction and chaos. The blast damaged Robie's electronic vision, making it difficult for him to properly identify people and objects. Despite the destruction, Robie continued to try and sell products to the injured and disoriented people around him.

A little girl named Rita, who had been watching Robie earlier, approached him for help in finding her mother. Robie tried to assist her by calling for a policeman, but no one came. The girl gave Robie a dime, and he told her her weight, but he was unable to help her find her mother.

The orange flower grew, stem and blossom. The blast came.

As rescue squads arrived on the scene, Robie continued to try and sell products to them, despite the devastation around him. The story highlights the limitations of a robot's abilities in understanding and responding to human emotions and needs in a crisis situation.