Mary Fran Bontempo
I first wrote this column years ago, when I needed a new vacuum. I hated the bag-less then, and I hate it now, only now, they no longer make vacuums with bags, as I discovered when I had to buy a new one again last week. If only my current story’s end could have been as happy as the one at the end of this old column….
I should have known it wouldn’t last, and it serves me right.
After twenty some years, it happened. I fell for a younger, newer model, casting aside the loyal, tried and true like a pile of used junk. The old relationship just wasn’t working for me anymore and instead of more of the same, I wanted out.
I admit now that it was superficial; I was taken in by looks, deceived by empty promises, with no regard for past loyalties. The way I discarded our pairing was simply shameful, and against the advice of my mother, in whom I had smugly confided my intentions.
And just where did it get me? It brought me to my knees, puzzling over what was wrong. What happened to those first sparks, the jolt of power I felt when we first began? I couldn’t imagine why or how I had been deceived.
It’s time for the truth. My neon yellow, brand-spanking new bag-less vacuum was a complete waste of money.
In my defense, it was nearly impossible not to be enticed. My old vacuum looked exactly like the one my mother still had from my childhood. Some bland, non-descript color, that annoying inflatable bag and no tools on board—they were stuffed in that clumsy box shoved in the back of the coat closet. I mean, seriously, everything eventually becomes new and improved, right? How could I not be seduced by the blinding color, the amped-up motor, the cute little dust cup that would free me forever from trying to fit those stupid paper bags with the cardboard piece on the back over that impossible to fit plastic port? More important, how could I resist a headlight that worked?
In short, I couldn’t. So I trashed the old vacuum, literally, leaving it forlornly sitting at the curb to meet its demise. I gleefully unpacked my new model and put it together in minutes. (I’m the only one in the house with a complete tool kit, which I hide from my husband, but that’s another story.) I vacuumed every day for a week, initially repulsed by the stuff my new love sucked up, but eventually delighted that I finally had a partner which showed me with each emptying of the dust cup just what I thought I had been missing.
Before long though, I began to notice some unsettling developments. While the dust cup visibly displayed its contents, it failed to completely contain them, resulting in a vacuum which had to be wiped down after each use to remove external dirt. After only a few months, the brush all but stopped revolving, and most insulting, the headlight burned out.
I hauled my ailing appendage to the repair center, a place I had visited only once before in the twenty-five years I owned my old machine, and faced the music.
“I wouldn’t use one of those bag-less things if you gave it to me for free!” the scornful repair guru said. “You know that ridiculously priced brand that looks like an alien space ship?” he asked, while he proceeded to count the number in for repair. “One, two, three…six today and eight yesterday! Here’s what you really need.”
Humbled, I handed over my credit card and loaded my mother’s brand of bland, old-fashioned, bagged vacuum into my car under the reproachful gaze of the repairman, who included extra bags to get me started.
I’ll use the ugly thing and recognize the beauty in its utility, but when all is said and done, I have to borrow a line from my kids: I hate it when Mom’s right.