All that’s left for you to do is move right in!
Geraldine sat back from her keyboard, grinning as she laced her fingers behind her head.
“You still go it,” she congratulated herself on another job well done, her smoker’s rasp yielding to a brief coughing fit. She fished the last cigarette out of the pack of Virginia Slims on the desk next to the old Toshiba laptop with an arthritic claw. Everything took longer these days, but that only added to the eventual satisfaction.
Lighting up, she proofed her ad copy for the fourth time through the cancerous haze. She chuckled at her favorite bits, like the proud parent of puns and witticisms that she was.
More upgrades than a Kardashian! More remodeling than a Jenner!
Don’t take these counter tops for granite!
Even the pronoun police agree that Mrs. Clean lives here!
Despite having written hundreds of property descriptions over the years, the one thing Geraldine prided herself on above all else was that no two were exactly the same. She agonized over every noun. Scrutinized every verb. Relished every adjective. While there may be only so many ways to describe a swimming pool, or a great room, by God she would find a new combination of words every time. Even if it just meant tweaking timeless cliches ever so slightly.
This was what she brought to the table. This was why her clients hired her. It was right there on her business card, after all:
“Geraldine Jurgenson – The House Poet“
The cursor was still flashing on the screen, insistent. It drew her grey eye to the call to action just beneath her text:
Improve with AI
Geraldine scoffed, as she always had since artificial intelligence entered her profession in recent months. Not for the first time, she wondered what illiterate boob of an agent would outsource her very words to R2D2. The world had become a very strange place since Reagan left office.
And yet … she couldn’t deny the morbid curiosity that flooded her doubting mind.
What does a machine know about selling a house?
What computer code can tug at a home buyer’s emotions like my prose?
She saved what she had written, took a long swig of Diet Pepsi through a turtle-killing bendy plastic straw, and pressed the button allowing for artificial “enhancement” of her property description. This would be good for a laugh.
“Okay, Data, show me what you got,” she smirked, pleased with her reference.
No sooner had she finished her sentence did the lengthy paragraphs on the screen rearrange themselves into shorter blurbs. Despite herself, she had to admit that the new layout was more approachable and easier on the eye than her wall of text.
Parlor trick, she told herself. Of course a computer would structure everything just right. She did use spellcheck and grammarcheck, after all. She shouldn’t be surprised that maximum efficiency was a check in the robot’s column. A useful syntax tool, nothing more.
Fair play, Mr.Roboto, but now let’s see how you do with the actual art of writing.
She comforted herself with the certainty that the glorified Roomba’s words would have all the flow of her late husband’s prostate.
Her smile faded as she read through the opening lines, however. It disappeared entirely when she moved on to the second paragraph. By the time she read through the conclusion, she was physically shaking and near tears.
It was beautiful. Captivating even. The details. The descriptions. The robot’s version was so much more concise and impactful than hers, despite being confined to the same 1000 character limit.
She had never before seen a walk-in pantry described as ” a magical wardrobe to culinary Narnia.” Nor had she ever considered opening a line dedicated to a home’s hardwood flooring with, “Well, shiver me timbers!” Every nuanced phrase was as fresh and unique as her old rote was tired and hackneyed.
It made her want to buy the house. And she hated this house.
She could scarcely believe it. Just like that, the niche she had dedicated decades to carving out for herself had been filled in by the lifeless fever dream of some computer geek in Northern California.
If AI was the latest and greatest trend, Geraldine realized that she had become the handyman special, in need of a total makeover. With her osteoporosis, she couldn’t even make the claim to good bones anymore.
She had seen the future, and octogenarian agents like herself certainly weren’t it. All the selfie filters in the world couldn’t obscure that fact.
“Well, old gal,” she announced to the room as she powered off the laptop and stood. “There is always a market for a fixer-upper.”
She made a mental note to reduce her fee and order new business cards as she shuffled out of the cramped, smoke-filled room.
“Alexa, turn off the lights,” she croaked over her bony shoulder, plunging the old cottage into darkness. “The party’s over.”