Humor Non-Fiction posted September 15, 2021

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My adventures with a robotic vacuum

Doing a Rhumba With a Roomba

by blondie560

Last year as covid was just starting to take hold, we did a makeover of our home. We had all the rooms, including the closets, painted and changed out the carpeting to luxury vinyl plank flooring. I had broken my elbow that same month and had three surgeries, so I was laid up for many months rehabbing. Not having to think about the cobwebs, grease and grime, and carpet that had seen its better days was just what I needed. Since my husband isn't much of a housekeeper(he can do laundry now, but that's another story), I didn't feel anxious. 

Then this year my daughter went through a divorce and moved back home to get back on her feet. She brought her two cats with her as well. I love cats, so it wasn't a big deal. After a couple of weeks, I noticed the cat fur on one of the throw rugs and cat litter being tracked on the runner in the hallway. I don't care what the cat litter jug says, the litter still makes its way out of the box and onto the floor and then to the runner. 

My elbow is not 100% useable, so I decided to look into one of those robotic vacuums. I had heard other people rave about them. I thought it would be the perfect item to keep the cat hair cleaned up as well as the dust. I only had an area rug, a runner, and a throw rug on my floors, so I figured I wouldn't need to haul out my big vacuum if I got the robotic one. I could have clean floors all the time. 

I took to the internet to research them. I didn't want to spend a lot, (probably a mistake) so I wasn't going to purchase the one we've all heard of. I instead, purchased the second-best rated one from Amazon. It arrived the next day with my prime membership.

I took it out of the box as if it was Christmas morning. How could I be so excited about something that was used for cleaning? Maybe it was because I hadn't gone anywhere in a year?  I had to do a little assembling; attaching the brushes on the bottom and putting in the filter. I set up the charging station in the living room, plugged It in and waited for it to charge 100%. I leafed through the very small manual included. It had a few options, like I could set it up to clean every day at the same time! This to me was going to be so cool to have clean floors every day. I couldn't wait to get started. I seriously needed to get more often.

The first thing I learned was to program the remote for a.m. or p.m. I found that out when it didn't start up at the time I had set it for. Of course, it was set for 10:00 p.m. and not 10:00 a.m. I have the same issue with the coffee maker from time to time, just ask my husband. Once I figured out what I had done and it wasn't defective, I manually started it. 

The second thing I learned involved the direction the vacuum takes. It doesn't travel in a straight line. I was expecting it to go up and down the floor in the living room. Instead, it started from its base and promptly went behind the sofa and got stuck.

The third thing I learned involved the cords to all the electronics in any room,  especially the power cords to our recliners. Cords are not friends of the vacuum. I thought I had all of my cords neat and hidden. Nope! It was like having a toddler in the room. If there was even a hint of a cord, the vacuum would squeeze its way in to try and suck it up. After I got the vacuum out from behind the sofa, it went towards the entertainment stand and got hung up on one cord, pulling the rest out from behind the stand. “Hey, look what I found”, it seemed say as it attempted to destroy the cords. I freed it from the cords and this time I set it back in the middle of the floor to start again. 

The fourth thing I learned was the vacuum has a mind of its own. There is no rhyme or reason as to where it's going to go. You’ve probably seen the video of the cat riding on the vacuum, and every time it hits a barrier, it turns around and heads towards another. This goes on over and over while the cat is content.  If one of the cats in my house would have been game to try that, I could have made a new video.

My house has two entryways from the living room into the open concept kitchen and dining room. Can you tell I watch too many home improvement shows? The merry little vacuum will head towards one of those openings, skipping the living room, and spend some time bouncing around the cabinets, stove, and refrigerator and then over to the baseboard on the other wall. It will act like a boomerang, hitting the baseboard, spin around, hit under the lower cabinets, spin around and repeat. Sometimes it does this three or four times making that area the cleanest part of the floor. 

Eventually, it seems to bounce itself out of that pattern, change directions and head back into the living room, only to sense the recliner, then turn around again and head back to the kitchen. 

Eventually it will go into the dining room area. Here it likes to play air hockey going between the chairs and table pedestal. It must get tired of that game, and it starts to return to the living room through the second opening where it will go behind the recliner in the corner. And it gets hung up on the power cord again!  I have to pull it out and push the recliner back towards the wall to stop it from doing it again.

I understand the vacuum has a sensor to detect dirt. What I don't understand, is how it misses one spot directly in front of it, instead taking a right turn towards a wall. Hitting the baseboard makes it turn again and it heads back out of that room. 

At the far corner of the living room is a scratching post for the cats.  The vacuum is drawn to it like a magnet. It can propel itself onto the base, but then it can't back itself off of it and it’s like watching a car stuck in the snow. It goes forward a bit and then tries to reverse off of it. Over and over and over. I realize it is stuck when I hear the continual sound of it's wheels on the wood stand. I try to direct it off the base by using my foot as a barrier sensor, but it keeps turning back toward the base. I'm literally fighting this machine with my foot to direct the vacuum away from the scratching post. It doesn't matter where I move the post to, the vacuum finds it.

By this time I'm talking to the vacuum as if it hears and understands me. 

“Don't you go under that chair!”

“You already cleaned that corner three times. When are you going to do the rug?”

“Do not, I said do not go by the scratching post again!”

I may be losing my mind.

The battery life is approximately two hours. When I realize it's been running for a long time and it hasn't made it to the runner, or the middle of the area rug, I attempt to direct it to go over those spots. I think I've invented a new sport, robotic vacuum wrangling. My daughter came home the other day and saw me blocking the way of the vacuum, so it would turn around and go back down the runner. She asked me how this was supposed to be easier than pulling out the big vacuum. I told her she was grounded (she's almost 40).

The last thing I learned is the vacumm is male. When the battery has run down, the vacuum is supposed to find it's way back to the charging station.The speed of the vacuum will slow down to a crawl. If it's in the living room when this happens, it just needs to cut across the room and dock. Instead, it will turn itself around and take the long way. It heads towards the kitchen doorway, travels along the floor, and then comes back into the living room by the dining room opening. It was literally two feet away, but instead of asking for directions, it goes so far out of its way, it's a wonder it even has enough power to finally dock. By this time I'm telling the vacuum it's stupid. 

I heard that if I had gotten the more expensive one, I could have programmed it much better and it would clean the living room then move into the kitchen. I could have received alerts on my phone when it was hung up on and then done something to get it out of it's predicament. I could truly program it to start and not have to be in the  house. I don't know if this is true, but I'm already jealous. Though, one friend has a horror story involving her cat, an item it left behind, and the vacuum. Yuck! I shudder to think about it.

The robotic vacuum didn't turn into the time saver I thought it would be. In fact I think I waste more time chasing this thing through my house. I had a dream that the vacuum got tired of me calling it names and decided to seek revenge. It chased me through my house    and cornered me until I apologized to it. I really do need to get out more. Maybe I can join a team to play robotic vacuum wrangling.


Satire and Parody contest entry

The mug shot of the offender in my story. This might not really be satire, but it's my birthday so I can do it :)
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