For the past couple of years now, I’ve been saving two-dollar coins, carefully tucking them away in a wee piggy bank instead of using them to buy my weekly cafe mocha at Tim Horton’s. Those of you familiar with Tim Horton’s coffee know the extent of my sacrifice. For those of you who aren’t, think of your favourite caffeinated beverage and imagine what it would be like if it were ten times tastier. Think whipped cream. Think chocolate sprinkles. Right, now you all understand my pain.
I was saving for something that I figured I couldn’t justify as a household budget expense, but that I really wanted. And last week, I finally had enough to buy it.
Not one of those Robosapiens, or the cute little Aibo, and sadly, not the big Asimo of the Honda commercials. Nevertheless, something very cool: A robot vacuum.
There, I’ve admitted it. I am a geek. Other people save up for new bikes, or big screen TVs. For me, this was like having a Ferrari show up at my door. Better, actually, because a Ferrari would have screamed “mid-life crisis!” to the neighbours. The only statement my robotic vacuum makes to the neighbours is that I have a cleaning crisis. Okay, it says that I’m a geek with a cleaning crisis.
You see, nature may abhor a vacuum, but I’m rather partial to clean floors. I also have kids. This means that A) It’s impossible to keep the floor clean — the Cheerios dispersion rate alone defies measurement; and B) The floor must be kept clean, because toddlers don’t differentiate between dropped Cheerios, marbles, onion skins, grocery lists, or dirt tracked in from the garden. Combine this with the fact that children have this rather inconsiderate habit of requiring food, diaper changes, and lots of playtime while you’re trying to do frivolous things like run a business … well, you’ve all been there. Or you are there, and really want to leave.
Dreaming of my robotic vacuum cleaner has kept me going through many a midnight tidy-up session. Much like my washing machine means I don’t have to take the clothes down to the river and pound them with a rock, I looked forward to a time when the vacuum canister wasn’t getting caught in door jambs, smashing into the back of my ankles, or falling down the stairs. Right, so maybe what I should have purchased was the book Vacuuming for Dummies.
Never mind. What’s important is that it arrived last week. A circular machine about the size of a large pizza, it’s not a very bright little ‘bot. It starts in the centre of the room and works its way out, gently bumping into things and turning away – just like me first thing in the morning before I’ve had my coffee. If it strays too close to the stairs, little sensors warn it of impending danger and it backs away – sadly, not just like me in the morning. Prior to my coffee, all *my* sensors do is throw an “ILLEGAL OPERATION: WINDOWS WILL REBOOT NOW” error and down the stairs I go.
When it comes to dirt though, this little robot is an Einstein. Around and around it goes, sucking up crushed Doritos, crayon crumbs, and the large handful of pine needles my smallest son thought was fascinating until they poked his palm. It hoovers up the dog hair left by our last canine visitor, and it attacks our doormat again and again. Did you know our mat actually says WELCOME and not WE C M ?
I must confess my productivity hasn’t increased yet — I’m too busy following the thing around the house, cheering it on as it successfully clambers over the extension cord strip and scoots under my bed to suck up things that neither broom nor regular vacuum have been able to touch. I’m so enthused, I have seriously considered making it a bumper sticker that says: DUSTBUNNIES FEAR ME.
Once the novelty wears off though, I’ll be able to do any number of things while it cleans the floors. I can spend more time with my kids. I might have a shot at finding my kitchen sink under all those dishes. I might even be able to file my column more than a few hours before deadline.
Well, maybe not. It’s not a miracle technology, after all.