Almost every day I make a pot of tea. Strong, black tea, the kind you have to steep properly in a ritual that involves a kettle, a tea tin, tea lights, a tea cozy. It’s a four-minute brew, so I set a timer. I used to do it on the microwave, but some time ago I just started asking Alexa, via the Amazon Echo on my kitchen counter. “Alexa, set a timer for four minutes.” I can do this while pouring from the kettle to the pot. It is an efficiency that feels indulgent in the early morning or late evening (decaf; don’t judge me).
The only problem is the waiting. Staring out the window, scrolling the smartphone, just waiting. Alexa provides no feedback, no seconds counting down. The Echo’s lip blues mysteriously. It issues a sound when time’s up, which a voice command suspends: “Alexa, stop.” It’s silly, but the invisibility of my tea timer haunts me.