This week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date:Oct 06, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

How to pam­per your vacuum

Last Christ­mas, Dale gave me one of the best gifts ever, a Roomba. For those of you who are aghast that a hus­band would give his wife a vac­uum cleaner as a gift, please stand down. Liv­ing with two dogs and car­pet­ing was bad enough, but once we got wood floor­ing, the dog-hair tum­ble­weeds drift­ing across my view every day made me want to weep.

Get­ting that Roomba changed my life. I named her Fluffy, and she spent at least two hours each day metic­u­lously pick­ing up hair and dirt. I usu­ally had to empty her bin at least once a clean­ing, but it was a small act, com­pared to the sweep­ing I used to do.

Still, Fluffy was not immune to prob­lems. Some­times she would get stuck under fur­ni­ture. Occa­sion­ally, the dogs would knock her “vir­tual wall” blocker aside, and I’d find her wan­der­ing around in rooms she was not sup­posed to be in.

This was mostly a prob­lem if I wasn’t home. Fluffy’s brain is con­nected to my cell phone, so I get all her error mes­sages. It’s been dis­con­cert­ing to be in a meet­ing in Chicago and get an alert that Fluffy’s bin needs emptying.

I can’t do any­thing from 2000 miles away.

This past week, she has been unusu­ally sen­si­tive. She can’t seem to find home base, and she is spend­ing too much time in the hall and neglect­ing the kitchen. I keep tak­ing her apart, clean­ing the hair and dirt, then point­ing her toward home.

It only makes her happy for a few moments.

Finally, she spoke up, say­ing, “Error 2. Clear Roomba’s debris extrac­tors, then press CLEAN to restart.”

First of all, if I worked at the com­pany, I’d pro­gram Roomba’s mes­sages dif­fer­ently. She’d learn her name, and to say “please” and “thank you.” There is no rea­son for a machine to be rude.

I looked up what debris extrac­tors were, then took them out and cleaned them. They are just lit­tle rub­ber bars that scoot around the floor and suck things up. Obey­ing Fluffy, I pressed CLEAN and she started up again. Two min­utes later, she stopped and gave me the same error. Believe it or not, I tried the same thing 5 times.

Again, if I worked at the com­pany, I’d pro­gram her to say, “You’ve tried that 5 times with the same results. Should I look up the def­i­n­i­tion of ‘insan­ity’ for you?”

In des­per­a­tion, I read the man­ual, hop­ing not to see some dis­claimer say­ing that if you run your Roomba every day, it might only last 6 months. What I found was a list of parts that need to be replaced, and a sched­ule of how often to replace them.

Debris extrac­tors are on the list.

The good news is they are only sup­posed to be replaced every 6–12 months, so at 9 months, I was still in the win­dow. The bad news is Fluffy doesn’t feel her best until they’re replaced.

I imme­di­ately ordered a full acces­sory replace­ment pack­age from their web­site. It should arrive shortly.

In the mean­time, Fluffy is get­ting some much-deserved rest. I’d send her to a spa if I knew one that catered to robots. And I will try to keep the clumps of dog hair from pil­ing up while she relaxes.

It’s the least I can do, after all she’s done for me.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

Leave a Reply