Is There Vacuum Cleaner Out There Worth a Damn?
© 2010 Leighann Lord
I really thought I'd have a housekeeper by now. I’m not talking Mr. Belvedere from “Mr. Belvedere” or even Alice from “The Brady Bunch,” but somebody to come in once or twice a week (off the books, of course) to help tidy up the place. At the moment that somebody is me. And rest assured, I’m not trying to be down to Earth or keep it real in any way. Given the opportunity and the ducats, my hired help would need hired help.
I don’t love cleaning but I’m good at it. I’ve even read books on cleaning to improve my technique. (“Clutter Control” by Jeff Campbell of The Clean Team is my favorite.) For serious cleaning, I gear up like I’m about to fight. I take off my jewelry, tie my hair back, slip on the gloves and start swinging. It’s damn near a dirt pogrom.
But a fighter is only as good as the tools in her arsenal and the weakest in mine is my so-called vacuum cleaner. I've run it over visible debris multiple times succeeding only in sliding it an inch or two down the hall. As a dirt mover its fabulous, actually sucking up said dirt, not so much.
It didn’t start out that way. In the beginning, my vacuum cleaner worked well and I was giddy. I’d vacuum the rugs, detach the cup and show my Husband the deluge of dirt that had accumulated inside of it. I was as proud as a hunter stalking and bagging big game. My Husband, a brilliant man, had the good sense to “ooh” and “ahh” over my cup of dirt. “Wow, look at that!” he’d say, perhaps to distract from the fact that if a crime scene investigation team ever came to our house, they’d find his finger prints everywhere but on the vacuum cleaner.
But soon the dirt cup yielded less and less, the vacuum cleaner becoming nothing more than an expensive air blowing, noisemaker. It’s not just about the money, although I’ve made no small investment in subpar appliances. I’d like my vacuum cleaner to work as advertised and expected because I have a Dog who sheds with willful purpose. We have a ritual, He and I. I vacuum a rug, and then He rolls around on it with great enthusiasm as if to replace and grind in the fur I had the temerity to remove.
Now, you might be thinking, “Leighann, like your Husband, I’m very impressed with your cup of dirt, but have you tried cleaning the filter?”
“Why, yes I have.” As a matter of fact, I lay down pages of old newspaper, remove the vacuum’s filter and gently brush away the excess dust and dirt with a cheapy tooth brush bought specifically for that purpose. And for good measure, I show off this dirt to my Husband as well for another round of “Wow, look at that!”
But this shabby performance is not just from my current vacuum cleaner. It’s every vacuum cleaner I’ve ever owned – I'm on my fourth — each one more disappointing than the last. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I expect a brand-new-out-of-the-box vacuum cleaner to last longer than six months.
My parents have had the same vacuum for the last 25 years. I kid you not. AND IT STILL WORKS. When I was a kid, I hated it. The Beast was big, heavy, loud and probably powerful enough to clean up Congress. But at this point, I fervently hope my parents leave it to me in the will. And my chances are good since I’m pretty sure I’m the favorite.
In the mean time, I’m still hoping to have household help someday. I want someone like Roberta from “Two & a Half Men”: a no nonsense Viking of a woman who comes equipped with a sharp sense of humor, a strong work ethic and, if I’m lucky, she’ll bring her own vacuum cleaner with the suction power of a black hole.
Maybe my life will be more like a sitcom when I actually have one.
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