Monthly Archives: January 2013

Venting About The Vacuum

A vacuum that does hardwoods and rugs AND will last longer than a Congressional term -- is that too much to ask?

A vacuum that will last longer than a Congressional term — is that too much to ask?

Dear Vacuum Cleaner makers,

I only want one thing from you: a vacuum that’s good at hardwoods AND carpet. Is that too much to ask?

Okay, I really want a second thing, too: make me a vacuum that won’t break in ways that leave the machine operable but irritating because of minor deficiencies. Make a vacuum with the cord rollup thingy that still works after more than two years. And one with that plastic door over the little accessories that (a) stays shut and (b) doesn’t break off and let the little accessories scatter to the four floors of my rowhouse. And if you can make one with a handle that stays up when it’s supposed to, well – you’ll have earned the undying gratitude of a lifetime customer.

As vacuums go, I’m a Kenmore man.

My mom always had a Kenmore, and my father bought me of my very own from Sears for my 25th birthday. I lived in Brooklyn, New York, and dutifully drove to New Jersey to pick it up. (Dad gave Mom a microwave oven for her birthday in 1980. She cried.)

Over the years, I’ve tried to branch out. Those Dysons look so zippy with that wind tunnel and the little roller ball that lets you get behind the sofa legs in one swift motion. But tell me it gets dog hair off the rug, and I’ll tell you there’s a bridge for sale in New York. And the Dyson costs about the same as the bridge. Or maybe I should change to an upright? How great would it be not to have to buy and change those stupid bags – which I only figure out are full after I vacuum the entire house and wonder why it still feels dirty. Not like I’m going to change the bag and then vacuum all over again.

I tried checking Consumer Reports, source of all impartial knowledge of consumer goods, but they gave Kenmores a so-so rating, so, ironically, I didn’t trust them.

A few years ago, I saw a friend’s new Kenmore that he swore up and down was good on rugs AND floors. Kinda like the feeling you get when some other guy’s new cell phone makes you want one, too, I got vacuum envy. Got a deal on the floor model at the Sears Scratch-n-Dent, and I was sold. I vacuumed my way to happiness until I ran out of bags and found that the stupid store doesn’t sell the type my machine takes – after I drove across town to get some. Plus, the bags they called for looked way too big to fit in the chamber, and the salesman couldn’t explain how that was in fact the right bag.  I resigned to ordering them online – but when my last bag is full and shipping takes a week, I resort to sticking my finger inside the full bag to fish out the unearthly mix of cat hair and dirt to make room for more.


My current vacuum cleaner’s accessory panel door was last seen in the living room sometime in 2010. The cord hasn’t rolled up since October, and if I crack the thing open in an effort to fix it, it will never work properly again. And my old vacuum’s handle – which is supposed to stand on its own when the little thingy clicks – hacked me off so much that I replaced it, even though it sucks like crazy. Never mind that the damn thing was sized for a woman – with a handle built for someone only five feet tall.

Dear Dad, please don’t buy me a new vacuum cleaner.

And Dear Vacuum Makers, please make a machine that’s strong enough for a man and not made for a woman.