Major Appliances

A short time ago, we decided that we needed a new vacuum cleaner. As luck would have it, we received a call from a vacuum cleaner salesman, referred to us by an ex- friend. We knew what he was selling, we knew what it cost, and we knew we could never in a million years afford this type of vacuum. The obvious thing to do would be to politely tell him that we were not interested and thank him for his time, but we wanted to see what a real vacuum was capable of doing. Plus, this vacuum could also shampoo carpets, so we figured we would be real sleazeballs and pretend that we were interested so we could get the free demonstration and free gift.

The salesman, whom I feel knew that we had no intention of even being in the same room with him while he showed his vacuum, was very polite and honest. He explained that along with the dirt and sand, the most common substance contained in carpets are dust mites, which if magnified 500 times appear much larger, and dead skin. He told us we would not believe how much dead skin is in a carpet, and we told him we have no desire to. As a matter of fact, if he even tried to hint about this subject again, we were going to escort him to the nearest door using the Ginsu knife that we received as a gift from the last vacuum cleaner salesman.

The demonstration seemed to last about four weeks, and when we realized that we were starting to plan our meals around him, we had to ask him to pack up his stuff and move on. Fortunately, we got to see what a vacuum cleaner is really supposed to do. For years, I thought that you flipped a switch and the vacuum would make an obnoxiously loud noise that sent the local wildlife fleeing for their lives while you pulled it around the house, periodically moving it so it wouldn’t mat down the carpet – but when we watched this really expensive vacuum actually make a clean path behind it, we decided to purchase a new one. Of course it wouldn’t be the one we just saw because that one cost too much money.

…So we bought a new vacuum cleaner. Although it was not exactly the highlight of the year in terms of major appliance purchases, it was kind of exiting. Our old vacuum cleaner was not particularly efficient in terms of picking up actual dirt, although it did have a knack for picking up inappropriate objects like shoehorns and hamsters. It also had the tendency to expel any dirt that it may have accidentally sucked up, directly out the back vent where it would gracefully drift back to the floor. This may have something to do with the fact that we routinely spend more money on a single case of beer than we spent on our vacuum.

We brought the new vacuum cleaner into our home feeling really proud of ourselves. The new vacuum cleaner started with a roar that made the old vacuum cleaner twitch violently and scurry under the bed searching for cover. We had purchased a vacuum that wouldn’t make visitors point at it while stifling great bursts of laughter. When we had a baby-sitter, we would frequently find the old vacuum in the kid’s toy box when we returned home due to the fact that a real vacuum couldn’t possibly look so cheap.

There were things about the old vacuum that we were not prepared for, such as we weren’t supposed to expose it to harmful elements such as daylight, because it fell apart within seconds after opening the box. The two piece pipe that connected the nozzle to the hose was made of plastic, which would often explode into fragments if you so much as touched it, which was sometimes necessary if you wanted to operate it. This is how we wound up with the “extremely short persons” vacuum. One of the two pieces making up this pipe jettisoned the little nub that holds it to the other piece. Of course, a replacement piece would cost more than the actual vacuum did in the first place, and would arrive years after the rest of the vacuum had dissolved into a fine powder that it couldn’t have picked up if it wasn’t broken anyway.

For this reason, my wife used the “mini – vacuum” for years, having to stoop, and often whapping her head against various walls causing her to have to tie a pillow around her head. Of course, with this type of posture, her face was closer to the carpet, causing her to see how clean it wasn’t, which irritated her into wanting a new vacuum. This, in turn, hurt the old vacuum’s feelings, and it started shedding more parts and emitted sparks when she tried to shut it off.

It finally knew it’s time was up, and it started showing up at inappropriate places, trying to trip us. First, the hallway in the middle of the night, then the top of the stairs while you were carrying a full basket of laundry, then the supermarket checkout line – until finally in a last ditch effort, it broke its remaining pipe, so the nozzle had to be connected directly to the hose, making you have to crawl around on the floor soaking up static electricity. After using our vacuum in this manner, you could often vaporize insects with a static discharge.

This is the main reason that we had to buy a new vacuum, but let’s face it, we are not exactly the Rockefellers, which is why we chose that particular vacuum to begin with. It also explains how we got the world’s wimpiest washer and dryer. Our washer has two settings – “hot” and “warm”, both of which are actually “cold” due to the fact that we also have the world’s cheapest boiler, which was purchased by the world’s stingiest contractor, and was apparently installed by preschool children in the dark.

Our dryer isn’t extremely complicated either. It has one switch (“ON”) and a dial to set the time. Both the washer and the dryer are obviously possessed by demons because when you first turn them on, they are up against the wall where they belong, but when you go away for a while, they jump around like freshly caught mackerel and then they squat in the middle of the basement snickering and snorting until you come back down and frown disapprovingly at them. I am going to disembowel the old vacuum cleaner in front of them while laughing menacingly.

This brings us to our ex – spare refrigerator, which I painstakingly cleaned and stocked with several cases of beer, then the ungrateful appliance burst into flames. I took it outside and swore loudly at it, then I brought it up near the road, where a large crowd had begun gathering. I belittled it and attempted to make it look foolish – I think it worked because everybody was pointing towards us and laughing.

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