Bad Tech

Resurrection of the Roomba

For nearly two decades, I grieved the loss of my original Roomba. The little robot vacuum that couldn’t.

At the turn of the century, the wife and I had a deal. She mopped, I vacuumed. The 2000 sf house used to be 1500 sf of carpet. As soon as the robot vacuums came on the market, I bought one.

It worked “great” — for a few glorious, unforgetable weeks.

“I can’t mop and clean while you are just sitting on that couch watching TV,” the wife said. “Either get up and do something or leave.”

I’d turn on my little Roomba and go play tennis with my “degenerate friends.” But when I got home, there was a litany of grievances.

  • You have to put it back on the charger when it’s empty, the wife said.
  • You have to use the infrared light sensors to mark off the rooms, the wife said.
  • You have to clean it out when it’s full, the wife said.

Within a month, the golden retriever fur wrapped around its little wheels leaving the Roomba to spiral around the living room carpet. See, it’s not working anyway, the wife said. She gave that little robot the teacher “dirty look” saved for kids who don’t do their homework, and husbands who nap.

I cleared the wheel several times. I had to cut the fur away with scissors, and pick out each little clump by hand. Where the fuck was all this string coming from that wrapped and tied down the dog fur? I studied the wife’s fingernails for signs of thread. She was a known sewer…

I emptied the trap and picked out crumbs and broken rubber bands and plastic bits from all the little crevices and cheap robot parts. I cleaned it carefully with Q-tips and rubbing alcohol.

Pushing around the Eureka versus maintaining this fucking Roomba started to feel like a break-even.

You could have been done by now, the wife said, as I nearly stabbed my leg with the scissors trying to clear the string and fur wrapped around the axles.

But I didn’t give a shit — it was the principle. That little robot cost me a week of teacher’s pay. I wasn’t going to throw that shit away — just because it was a little harder than doing it myself. And nobody wants to hear the wife say, I told you so.

Within a month, no matter how clean or charged, the death spiral was all my little Roomba could do. A 3-foot circle in the middle of the room was spotless. The rest of the house? Dust bunnies and dog fur.

One of its wheels was sticky or stuck, and the plastic around it was cracked — like a large object (or person) had stepped on it (with her giant feet) to crush my dreams of drinking beer while watching a robot do my chores.

She never would admit to it, but between me, the dog and Jesus… we knew. I had mentally convicted the wife of roboticide before “W” Bush beat John Kerry in 2004.

It’s usually a 25-year sentence for second-degree murder, but in this 20-year stretch, large parts of me had forgotten about my little lost Roomba.

The golden retriever died of cancer — no more handfuls of fur balls in the house.

We ripped out the grass, so I no longer had to mow. Plastic doesn’t get on your shoes and cover the house floors with clippings, mud or dead Bermuda shoots. We covered the backyard and part of the front in concrete pavers — no dirt, hardly any dust blowing in the house.

We ripped out the carpet too. First replaced the living room with “vinyl tile.” But this past summer, we paid the price and had “real tile” installed and took the carpets out of the bedrooms too.

The chores flipped. I didn’t have to mow. Vacuuming was down to just a few square feet of rugs. I could finish it in less than 15 minutes. Most of the time, I didn’t even think about using a robot.

The wife had almost all 2000 sf to mop. It takes an hour. She usually does it when I’m out on a 30-mile bike ride.

Christmas Robot Miracle

“You remember,” she said 3 days before Christmas. “We talked about getting another Roomba – you were supposed to look into that. It’s looking very bare under the tree.”

Fuck. That’s not how I remember it. I remember calling back for my Roomba and her reciting the litany — can it charge itself, can it empty itself, do we have to program it or map out the room (“we are not the type of people who program,” she said). I thought she was going to figure that shit out.

But it doesn’t matter. Two decades later, and she’s finally on “my side” of the Roomba.

Version 7 of the iRobot. Cleans itself. Maps out the house itself. Charges itself. Comes with an app that you schedule on your phone. Sold.

Look at all this fancy shit. Stole the image from this story:

Amazon special — arrived on Christmas Eve.

“Move that out from under the tree,” the wife said. “Family is coming.” The day after we cooked shish kabobs for 25 Savages, I broke open the box.

I named the Roomba in the app after the new dog. This morning, I had a text message: “Carol Fucking Baskin’s Roomba finished cleaning and saved you a trip to the trash can.”

Carol is not riding her Roomba — yet. But someday maybe my two loves will get together…

The myth is it only took Jesus 3 days to roll the rock away from his tomb and disappear, but almost 20 years later, my Roomba is back baby, and better than ever. This is the kind of resurrection we can believe in.

6 replies »

  1. We had one. It was loud and annoying, so we’d get it going, then leave the house. Upon return, we often had to hunt it down, only to find it had gotten stuck under a piece of furniture. I was glad when the fucker finally died. I even spit on its grave, which is the trash can.

    Liked by 2 people

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