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Sunday, April 5, 2009

40: The Big 4-0 - Motor it!

Well, by the original Lent count, today would be the FINAL mandatory post and a day of near celebration and anticipation of achievement that would have me rambling like the Micromachines guy. Unfortunately, due to my faulty secular counting, I did not consult with the Lenten calendar quite accurately before I embarked upon this project. It is a good thing, however, as now I will be writing for an entire week that I otherwise might have not, due to my penchant for laziness and television watching.

I did consult with a higher Catholic authority on the mystery of the extra days in the 40 days of Lent. My dad kindly explained that Lent IS 40 days if you exclude the Sundays. So, I guess all of the lousy entries on Sundays kind of get a free pass in being lousy because they were freebies anyway. Ok, that's a cop out, but usually Sundays are typically just doom, gloom, bleach and brooms for me. Oh, and a lot of snacks. Lots of snacks. And sloth. Good bit of the R and the R.

As mentioned in a previous glum Sunday entry, I tend to get really into re-ordering my existence each Sunday by means of bleach wipes. Getting crusty toothpaste off of my bathroom sink somehow represents personal, philosophical, and mental re-centering for me in a way that is entirely irrational, but highly effective. It is the least I can do to get myself together.

Like, really, quite literally there is not much less one can do to consider oneself on track as a human being other than maybe de-linting a navel, but still, it's the little things in life that truly preserve sanity. So I do it. Today, however, the ante was upped quite a bit. Today I went on the equivalent of a spirit journey to a sweat tent in Arizona with a Shaman named Destiny or something, so complete was my transformation.

Much has been written, and many are the stories of women who find pleasure they've never experienced before by replacing man with machinery of one kind or another. I'm pretty sure you could probably make a whole Sex and the City season just from episodes based around storylines of involving technological, ahem, advancement, as it were. Imbued with motors, not machismo, these electronic replacements carry out a function with precision and consistency, and never need feedback. After today, I may know what these women are talking about. Today, I made a major purchase that gratified me in ways I never thought possible. I bought a vacuum cleaner.

My former significant other had been kind enough to loan me his vacuum cleaner from time to time when enough crumbs had accumulated on the carpet that small German children would wander to my apartment asking if this was the way home (they always ran when they saw the oven, before I could explain I just needed to sweep up a bit). When that relation-ship sailed, the plug was pulled on the vacuum too. (Please note that I am refraining from making about - conservative estimate - six filthy low brow jokes here in deference to the mixed company that may visit the crockpot from time to time and may not enjoy it quite as much when the crockpot works blue, but for those of you who also see the slow-pitch softballs rolling across the carpet, please know that is in fact paining me to not hit them).

I had not considered purchasing a vacuum cleaner in coming months as the last time I'd looked at vacuum prices I was shocked to learn that one could nearly buy a used car for what some of the vacuums went for. Even craigslist put resale vacuums in the $75-$100 range. When I found a few for around $40, I almost sent the posters emails, but then I reconsidered buying a vacuum cleaner from craigslist at all. God only knows what messes they'd handled before. And hopefully, none of those messes would be alive, but hope did not seem like enough to go on when contemplating a possible unintentional home infestation at the hands of a Hoover. Finding really crappy, tiny vacuums for around $65 at Target, I gave up my first time around.

But today, somehow I woke up with a mandate to try again, many months later, to find an affordable vacuum. Maybe it was the Rice Krispies I'd spilled last week, or maybe it was the few moths that I've seen floating around (moths = death, long story, another time), but today seemed like THE day to start with yogurt and internet sweeps for sweepers. Big Lots had nothing for under $99, and those seemed chintzy. Target had a vacuum cleaner for around $76.99. Ok. Reviews were good. It was in stock at the store nearby. I could be a loud and proud vacuum owner in an hour's time. And 80 bucks seemed like a reasonable amount for a major purchase. I tried to think of this vacuum as the vacuum I'd be pushing to get extra dirt off of the astroturf near my eventual grave. It would last. I would suck it up and do it. Then it would suck it up and do it. Time and time again. Clean carpet.

Then I remembered that my first browsing involved the Wal-mart website.
I headed over to see what was being rolled back and if it meant I'd be rolling forward the new wheels of my vacuum cleaner.

At Wal-mart, everything was cheaper. Juuuuuust like the ads said. Yep! Employee abuses be damned - they had a vacuum for $42.99! A Bissell that did not seem to be missing any major functions of primarily designed for use on non-dirty surfaces. Could that be real? Could it be a value? The reviews were pretty good. 4ish stars. Then there was the 4-total star Bissell PowerForce Bagless Upright Vacuum. This one was bagless. And had power. And force. And fairly enthusiastic reviews. But still, the too cheap to be good to be true shopper's doubt in me reared its head, and I browsed on. Then I found the Bissell PowerForce Bagless Upright Turbo Vacuum 6596, formerly $72 bucks, on SALE for $65ish bucks! And with 4 and 1/2 stars! AND it was available in store RIGHT THEN.
I could have a vacuum cleaner within an hour and a half, assuming I found Wal-mart and the lines at this Wal-mart were like the lines at every other Wal-mart I'd ever visited - insane.

I looked back and forth between the specs and reviews of the PowerForce and the PowerForce Turbo. They seemed really similar, and the difference in reviews seemed negligible. Finally, it came down to the Turbo being in stock, and the regular bagless upright needing to either be shipped to me, or shipped to Wal-mart for later pick up. My mandate was too great. For 15 bucks, I was going to have the slightly better model, and I was going to have clean rugs before sundown. I wrote down the directions to the Baldwin Hills mall.

I hate shopping. I am not good at it, I don't particularly like spending money on things that I can't eat or drink, and I hate being in crowds of shoppers. So going to Wal-mart on a Sunday seemed like a recipe for disaster. But somehow I was committed to this mission, and the disaster that awaited me had to be endured.

Wal-mart was a hustlin' and a bustlin' with families of all shapes and sizes looking for values of gigantic proportions, many of which, according to the signage, there were. As I tried to maneuver my cart through aisles of throngs of children, their church shoes clicking on the linoleum as they squealed and raced after siblings who had found "The COOLEST toy!!!" ever that they needed to see and touch and try for themselves, I realized that Wal-mart was serving as a microcosm of L.A. Too many people seemed to be in one place at the same time trying to meet their exact needs and desires without much consideration for the conflicting desires, or personal space, of those around them. The hustle and the bustle. But at least in Wal-mart, unlike the freeways, everyone seemed pretty happy. A lot of children were hearing "Ok, put it in the cart," as answers to their pleas for the treasures they were finding. In a down economy, this was an upbeat scene of material consumption and toy joy. It was good. And I was about to stimulate the economy myself, if I could just find the vacuums.

"Third floor."
This place has a third floor? I thought, as I walked to where I hoped an escalator would be, and was. Then a quick navigation through the kitchen dish rack section, and I was face to face with a wall of vacuum cleaners. There, as promised, stood the Turbo. It did seem like a force to be reckoned with. Shiny. Sturdy. Maroon.
And there too, by surprise, the unassuming PowerForce bagless upright. My assumed pre-determined decision became stuck around the roller of my brain like a loose piece of carpet fringe. My mind made a very loud, not good whirring noise. I'm stuck! What now! Better look closer before things smoked.

They had two floor models out of the boxes for inspection. These vacuums looked nearly exactly the same. A point-by-point review of the specs on their signage indicated the only major difference was about $15 bucks in price, and the HEPA filter for pollen and dust mites on the Turbo. While an allergy victim myself, I was pretty much resolved that no amount of vacuuming would be able to eliminate pollen from the world. One was under 50 dollars. One was closer to 100. "Screw it, I'm going cheap," I decided.

I hoisted the PowerForce bagless into my cart and thought, "wow, those reviewers were right, this is light!"

By the time I got out of Wal-mart and back to my pollen-covered, dust mite-laden apartment, I somehow was exhausted and fell asleep (the aforementioned Sunday sloth). Finally, as the sun's descent began and the weight of Sunday moved in upon me, I got the vacuum out of my car's trunk and opened up the box to see what kind of construction project awaited.

Two screws! That was all that it took. And sure, they were Phillip's head, but really. Two screws later, I was ready for action (ok, that sounds dirty, half-hearted apologies).

It was lovely. A blue the color of the roofs in Greece, the kind that calendars feature so often to make you want to go there. I was able to follow directions. Things were going great. Now, to plug this in and see what happened.

What happened was PowerForce! We took off around my apartment with a vigor and efficiency that made my internal obsessive-compulsive-o-meter quiver. Corners were cornered. Under the coffee table with ease. Around the chair leg with grace. Crunchy things unseen being swept up with noise and force. This thing was so strong it even tried to eat my slippers! Ah! Now I knew why the reviews had so many exclamation points in them. This product WAS too good to be true for less than 50 dollars. And it WAS easy to remove the dirt and dust from the bagless compartment for easy disposal. I thought about writing one of my own! Run, don't walk to buy one of these upright wonder machines!!!

As I wound the cord around the cord knobs for the first time, considering whether to go with a figure eight configuration or a straight loop, I actually hugged the vacuum cleaner. "I love you vacuum!"
I couldn't help it. It just slipped out. I know it's not the right thing to say for a first time but, at that moment, I did love the vacuum cleaner.

Now it needs a name, and a permanent place for storage in my apartment. We'll find a spot.

I know it may seem perverse to sublimate emotional and physical need from a human being to a vacuum, and all the more appalling as this seems to have some sort of domesticity perversion involved, which suggests a need to live up to some old school gender role stereotyping that I abhor, but really, I swear it's just the ultimate fulfillment of my Sunday obsessive-compulsive quest for order and cleanliness with which to be prepared to begin the week. I doubt I'll form any REAL and lasting emotional attachment. At least definitely not before I start using the attachments.

It comes with an extender for mini-blinds!!!

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