Thursday, June 12, 2008

On having a robot servant

Trev and I have always avoided vacuuming because of allergies and because of the noise, which makes any concurrent activity impossible in our small condo. Also it scares the cats; it takes hours for them to recover from the trauma. But of course it's the cats who make the need to vacuum all the more urgent. With two white cats, it takes approximately two days for a clean room to become coated in what looks like an early morning frost. Yet the more hair there is, the less we want to vacuum, and the terrible spiral continues.

So we recently bought a Roomba. I hate buying anything (except Moo Shoes and food), and as I've said, I hate the very idea that a product could "change my life." But with the Roomba, resistance is futile. It really makes a difference. Now we can actually be doing other things while vacuuming--frantically doing dishes and cleaning the bathroom, for instance, in anticipation of company, or simply talking (about the Roomba). Best of all, it does not scare the cats. They watch it warily when it first starts up and back away if it charges at them (which it does once in a while, randomly of course); but then they go about their business. No recovery time necessary.

The troubling thing about [the] Roomba (it refers to itself as "Roomba" with no definite article) is its servant status. When we're done with it we take it to the spare room, put it on its charger, and close the door. It feels very Upstairs Downstairs. Maybe if the Roomba weren't so cheerful, with its blooping noises and pleasant requests for assistance ("Please remove and clean Roomba's brushes!") it would be easier. I could do with a little class resentment, a touch of sullenness. Better yet, I'd like it to speak in the voice of George W. Bush. That way I could make it work all day long and not feel the least bit guilty. As it stands I still feel, after a half hour or so, that it really deserves a break.


Amy H. said...

Did you know that you could buy clothes for your Roomba? Really. You can.

Elizabeth Wahl said...

You're lucky you don't have a dog. Apparently, they are much more likely to attack Roombas as threats to their families. Perhaps it's a testament to the loyalty of dogs, perhaps cats are smart enough to distinguish between machine and sentient servant. It's something to ponder while the Rooma vaccums (I'd love one but I have brick floors and no carpets).