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Monday, October 10, 2011


My love-hate relationship with the vacuum cleaner has continued across this side of the pond.  It is always rather risky to give me something with a plug, a wire and a motor. 

When I lived in England, it was a standing joke that I would put my husband in the cupboard every night and take the vacuum to bed.  I would vacuum every morning before I went to work, and every evening, after dinner, then repeat the process.  There were a lot of naughty dust mites in my house, who would spend all night sprinkling shiney bits of dust all over my carpet.  No one else could see it, but I knew it was there, invisible as it may be.  Yes, paranoia is a word that has been mentioned!  I was rather 'heavy handed' to say the least, and my vacuums needed replacing on a very regular basis.  I was once naive enough to accept an invitation 'test the vacuum, and we will give you two airline tickets'.  The lady who was unfortunate enough to be designated the demonstrator, came into my house like a lamb to the slaughter. She vacuumed every vacuumable place and could not convince me that the very capable machine was worth the extortionate amount that was being asked.  I may have been gullible enough to allow the demonstration, but not so green that I didn't know how the game was played.  Of course, I was offered the special discounts. It was Saturday; 'discount!'  It was not raining; 'discount!'.  My name did not contain the letter 'z'; 'discount!'  The accumulative discounts brought the price down to merely outrageously expensive.  I declined.  She was very disappointed.  I pointed out that I was not willing to take out a mortgage to buy this cleaner, especially with my history of replacement needs.  She pointed out to me that this cleaner came with a life time guarantee.  However, the list of 'disclaimers' went into the middle of next week.  'Owner misuse' can cover a multitude of excuses for not honouring the pledge.  Almost all of the problems I experience with my vacuum cleaners are from 'owner misuse'.  I was not going to buy the machine.

Totally frustrated, she called her boss, who asked to speak to me.  Face to face, I cannot be trusted with a good salesman.  I have to stare at their left ear and imagine a brick wall between us, in order for me to say 'no'!  As long as they cannot see me, I have the ability to answer in the negative.  He was not impressed with me, nor with his designated saleswoman.  She had failed, and he was not happy.  It was a very sorrowful sight, but I wondered if it was part of the act, to tug at my heart strings.  It didn't.

However, I digress.  My need for a vacuum cleaner had reached the critical stage. My first replacement was dying a very slow, but definite death.  I do not remember 'chewing' up the plastic that covered the wires, but they were exposed, and I could not find any insulating tape. It was also spitting out more dust than it appeared to be picking up.  The hose appeared to be split.  It was time to go shopping. 
I had seen a well known model being demonstrated at Costco on a few occasions, and had psyched myself up to say 'NO!', if necesssary, before embarking on my mission.  The saleslady was, indeed, on duty, and as I passed, she caught my eye.  I think the she must have theatrically trained, and was reliving her part in 'Oliver'.  'Who will buy this wonderful vacuum!' I watched the demonstration as she emptied the cylinder on to the patch of carpet that was laid out at the end of the aisle.  She continued to 'shake and vac', and the machine did swallow up the dirt and shiny dust (the same dust mites must have cousins over here!) and continued in her melodic style to chant the wonders of the model.  I attempted to revel in her enthusiasm, and was willing to take part in the next demonstration.  I was playing to an audience of one, namely Samantha, who stood and watched as intently as she could.  I tried to sing and dance, but do not co-ordinate particularly well, and my rendition of 'vacuum this man right out of my hair', wasn't as impressive as the previous performance.  The cheaper model, which was not particularly cheap, was not impressive.  'Our top model is the roller ball', she gushed.  The 'roller ball', was too light. Owner misuse would occur far too easily. The 'life time guarantee', had been reduced to a five year assurance, which implied that this would not last as long as previous models.  I remained partially interested, and asked for an additional display on how to clean and/or replace the filters, etc.  Why is it always 'unnecessary' when someone has absolutely no idea how do perform the task.  With a smile firmly fixed upon her face, she attempted to dismantle the parts I suggested needed cleaning.  Fortunately, for both of us, another interested party arrived, and the demonstration was about to take place for a third time, which was my chance to exit.  Walking backwards, and slowly, we made our way out of sight and disappeared down the next aisle.

Sitting on the shelf was a Hoover.  I have always had confidence in Hoovers, as they were the original.  I don't generally use the word 'vacuum' when using the electric sweeper to clean the floor.  I hoover!  I checked out the model, and it seemed good to me, so I heaved it into my trolley.  Now came the problem.  How was I going to get to the front of the store without bumping into Sarah Brightman, who was still singing the praises of her unique product.  As she turned into her next piorette, I ran across the top of the aisle and avoided eye contact. 
Attempting to use the new Hoover was an epic event.  As mentioned, more than once, my co-ordination skills are not always the best. Alone with my newest acquisition, which I had assembled without a hitch, I was ready to go, go, go!  Plugged in, I had to turn it on.  I was upstairs and the instruction leaflet was not.  I searched for a switch. Having found the on/off button, eventually, I thought I had cracked it!  One pedal would release the catch so I could continue to clean; the other would rewind the wire back into the body.  As I released the catch and pushed forward, the wire snaked back into the machine faster than I could click it back down.  Standing between the wall and the hoover, I stopped the impact that would have destroyed both!  More haste, less speed is something I advise, rather than actually employ! I was going to have to heed my own counsel.  I did manage to complete my Saturday morning chores, despite taking slightly longer than usual as I had to unwind myself on a number of occasions. I resisted putting little sticky notes on each pedal.  I still try to convince myself that I am in charge of the machine, rather than the opposite.  Scary!

Hopefully this Hoover will last beyond the two year guarantee, although with my track record, it is not a 'given'.  I now have to find one that will be suitable for the office.  Perhaps I will go back and see if the singing vacuumer has any recommendations and perhaps she will give me enough information for ....another story. 

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