Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Of all the household tasks I dislike, vacuuming floors is at the top of the list. I’ve owned every type of vacuum known to clean – uprights, canisters, drag-alongs and push arounds, all of them with no get up and go unless you hurl them about and say nasty words when you’re untwisting the cord from around your ankles while moving them from room to room. Even the ones touted to clean the dust and dirt with the greatest amount of suction and cleaning power have been unable to improve my humor on VAC DAY every week.

However, yesterday, the U.S. mail brought me a new vacuum – a strange-looking, saucer-shaped, refurbished robot vac–one that I’ve named Sweet Feet because she substitutes for my feet and back while I sit in a chair and watch her antics. Sweet Feet hums along cheerily and obsessively cleans under beds, tables, negotiates corners, patiently brushing one spot on the wood floor sometimes long enough to make me declare: “I know the floor isn’t that dirty.” To top it all, she speaks 16 languages including the English default.

Every time I pick up Sweet Feet and move her to another site, she protests vociferously and her belly button turns a violent red color. Otherwise, her smiling face is green and she’s on go all the time. She’ll run at least twenty-five minutes before you have to charge her battery for another run.

This morning I went into the dining room where she sleeps and all her lights were out; she was really asleep. Her personality is such that if you awaken her suddenly by pressing her green belly button, she doesn’t scream at you. She’s quickly up and doing, scurrying under chair legs, racing up and down on the patterns of the Orientals, and if she senses dust on your clothes, you’d better get out of the way because she’ll immediately head for you.

I do think that Sweet Feet has a bit of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, however. She cleaned one rug yesterday until the fringes began to fray and started to chase me when I dared move her on to dustier territory.

I’m not a lazy housekeeper but I have to admit that Sweet Feet outcleans me any day of the week, and all she requires is that you clean her brushes and empty out the five pounds of gunk she has gobbled up from your floors. Due to the evidence of all that gunk, she has destroyed my reputation as “Tidy Idy” that I’ve maintained amongst family members for nigh on fifty years.

One warning: if she gets near steps, shut the door leading to the steps. Yesterday she was cleaning fast and close to two steps and fell down on her head, and I hope she was speaking in German when I picked her up because I don’t think she was saying “do you have more work for me to do?”

The skinny is that she has a sister robot who can mop floors, and I’m thinking about hiring her. There’s also another sister robot but she charges more per hour – her claim to household efficiency is that she fetches things for you.

But I’m happy with Sweet Feet. Just watching her gobble up all that dust under the beds and zoom out with a smile on her face makes me wonder why I’ve put up with lug-about vacuum cleaners all these years. This morning I went to church and when I returned, she had cleaned three rooms without any supervision. I found her in the bathroom, sleeping beside the scales after all that output. I think the implication of parking herself beside the scales was that my house was in such dusty condition, she had lost weight from all the exertion.
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