Vacuums. Any pet owner will tell you that they are an essential part of keeping a home clean of pet debris. The come in many shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Some are worth it and some should be left in the box. I always get a kick out of the ‘pet proof’ models. I think, ‘Pet proof? They have never met my guinea pig and his messes…’ I have developed an illustrious career in destroying vacuums. I have been through my fair share. Some last long than others. The one thing they all have in common is that my guinea pig’s litter was their death.
Now, not to brag, but when it comes to vacuum cleaners, I consider myself quite handy. And many times, I can fix what is broken on a vacuum. When my vacuum acts up I take it apart looking for the problem. I like to think of myself as doctor searching for a life-threatening problem in a patient. I also like to brag to my mother regarding my vacuum fixing conquests. A typical conservation is something like this:
Me: “I thought the vacuum was acting up…So I took it apart to clean it…”
Mom: “Huh… Did it work?”
Me: “Of course… Works better than the day I got it…”
Mom: “Just surprised you managed to get it back together…”
Me: “Ha! This is not the first time I’ve done this…”
Mom: “I know…remember the VCR we had when you were growing up?”
Me: “You had to bring that up?”
Mom: “No fast-forward?”
Me: “I would have found where those parts went…eventually…”
So, back in January, the vacuum was acting up. I decided to pull it apart and clean it. This was a new type model and it took me a while to figure out how to pull apart everything I could. I was mad that I could not get into all of the nooks and crannies on the vacuum. I figured that I had gotten most of the junk out of it.
Looking back on it, I now realize that the time that the vacuum cleaner started to act up was right around when my guinea pig’s litter changed formulas. The old formula was a brownish colored material in clumps made from chewed up cardboard. It was heavy and dense and hard for my guinea pig to track out of the cage. The “new and improved and reformulated” litter better resembled confetti from a New Year’s parade. It tracked all over the house and was light, fluffy, and paper thin. Worse of all, it easily stuck to the underside of my guinea pig. It was all over the place.
I began to clean the apartment with my ‘fixed’ vacuum cleaner. It took me quite a while to pick up the new and improved litter. I smelled something…very faint. I thought that one of my neighbors had burned something. I turned off the vacuum, opened the door, and stuck my nose out to get a good whiff of the offending odor. The hallway smelled clean. Where was this odor coming from? I walked around the apartment sniffing like a blood-hound trying to figure out what was going on. Kitchen? Nope. Bathroom? Nope. Oven? Nope. Bedroom? Nope. It seemed to be concentrated in the living room… I walked to the TV sticking my nose next the vent fan. I inhaled deeply and was rewarded with a nose full of dust. Sneezing I though, ‘What the heck?’
I went back to the vacuum. As I switched it on I thought, ‘Did I check the vacuum?’ Nope. It began to spew smoke as it roared to life. “Oh God!” I yelled reaching to turn it off again. It was too late the vacuum had begun its death throws. The smoke alarm in my apartment began to go off. The smoke got worse as I placed the vacuum on its side to see what was causing the smoke.
I was in full panic mode. My options ran though my mind… Water? Tub? Outside? I choose outside. I grabbed the vacuum and threw open the door. As I ran out the door I was reminded that I had not unplugged the vacuum. The cord caught and yanked back at me stopping me in my tracks. I was yanked back towards the apartment. I didn’t care about properly unplugging the cord. I grabbed it and yanked back. It came free. I ran up one small set of stairs to the lobby and out the front door with the smoking vacuum cleaner. The foyer door started to close behind me as I ran down the stairs.
I made it half way down the stairs before the cord fully caught in the door. I kept going but the vacuum cleaner stayed. I tripped and somehow managed to jump or leap or throw myself down to the base of the stairs. Landing on flat feet, I heard a resounding crash from behind. I turned to see parts of the vacuum cleaner tumbling down the bottom half of the stairs. There was a cascade of parts down the stairs. The nearly full collection bin rolled down the stairs throwing litter and guinea pig pellets every where. It managed to roll and stopped at my feet. The vacuum cleaner was in no less than 100 pieces all over the stairs. The main part of the unit was still smoking.
Once my shock started to abate, I heard the laughter from the kids playing outside. I was quite a sight for them: dirty from cleaning, jumping down the stairs, and carrying a smoking vacuum that was destroyed on the steps. I gather what dignity I had and walked back up to the foyer door. Opening it, I released the vacuum for its final journey down the stairs. As it tumbled, I got applause from the kids. I bowed and said, “I’ll be back!” I walked though the door to gather my cleaning materials for decomposed vacuum cleaner. I hope to find my dignity back in the apartment where I had left it…