Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Really Sucks

My vacuum costs $700. I bought it off Ebay. Even though the whole point of buying something from a faceless entity on an auction site is to get a good deal, I don't think the final price was all that much less than buying it brand spanking new. If I were one to offer unsolicited advice, I would definitely recommend against buying a heavy, unwieldy (but European!) appliance sight-unseen, especially when the postage to send it back would equal more than to buy a new not-European machine at the store.

But boy, does my Miele suck. The attachment at the end of the long metal doohickey doesn't do anything other than mush the Cheerios into the floor. It has an aversion to carpets. And it blows air out of all its steel orifices. The replacement bags and filters are horrifically expensive and need to be special ordered. Our $45 Dirt Devil is far superior in these departments, and a perky lavender color to boot. Although I am not a vain person, I find it quite humiliating to utter the name "Dirt Devil" in public. It's just such a dumb name. Luckily, the DD does not require any vacuum bags and whenever it stops working or seems clogged, it is just as easy to chuck the whole vacuum than have to converse with a vacuum repairperson about the DD. I think we have also owned Eureka and Oreck vacuums, and those are just as embarrassing to talk about it public.

Did I mention that my Miele sucks? I mean it really sucks. Even without the attachment, it sucks up everything in its wake. My Miele is undoubtedly now worth significantly more than $700 because of all the coins and precious jewelry it has inhaled from our floors. It eats up pencils whole. It gets such a hold on curtains or stray socks that I imagine I am in the movie Jaws and attempting to extract a limb from the shark. This woman-against-machine drama plays into my competitive nature. I keep the power amped up to the highest setting--1100, but I have no idea what the 1100 is measured in. Volts? Watts? Amps? Since my Miele is German, maybe 1100 Wegstundes? Klafters? Meiles? Hmmm, my money is on the last one. Anyway, I am pulled along at 1100 Euro-somethings by five feet (150 cm) of steel pipe that juts and dives with such craft that I feel I am Luke Skywalker wielding a light sabre intent on cleaning the entire galaxy. After all that force that is with me, I have forgiven my Miele for its shortcomings.

I haven't always been so smitten with cleaning appliances. In fact, for many years I swore by the cleaning strategy of "baby wipes and a Dustbuster." I had a rather philosophical, fatalistic approach to housecleaning: If it couldn't be removed from the rug, floor, counters, or furniture by ether of those items, maybe it wasn't meant to be removed at all. I went through many, many Dustbusters before I realized that you occasionally have to stick your finger in to unstick anything bigger than a grain of rice, and the handheld is off and purring again. I did think it was a little suspicious how so many people claimed to have their Dustbusters for years, and I frequently only got one use out of it. But I have a liberal arts education, so I couldn't have been expected to know this.

Last year, prior to the purchase of my Miele, we were at a princess dress-up area at a County Fair. For reasons I cannot fathom, the princess area included a play vacuum. I was not sure whether to find this to be empowering to young girls--princesses don't just sit around and eat bon bons!--or merely an historical oversight, since Cinderella clearly pre-dates the invention of he vacuum. Much to my shock and dismay, my daughter, dressed in a regal costume of heavy velvet in 102-degree heat, started pushing the vacuum around. I considered redirecting her energies, but the other available options also involved forms of menial labor, like serving and washing things. Quelle horreur!

While I was bemoaning how, despite my best efforts to avoid it, centuries of gender stereotyping influenced my daughter's choice of a vacuum over a magic wand, I had another thought. Maybe her selection of a vacuum was actually a bold one, appealing to her sense of novelty. After all, I recalled when my son was about the same age, on the rare occasion we had a cleaning service in the house, he approached one of the cleaners who was busily vacuuming, pointed at the appliance, and very loudly asked, "What is THAT?"


  1. If you decide to sick your finger in your Miele to remove clogged particles, please remember to unplug it first. Or don't, but then you need to videotape it and put the resulting battle on Youtube. Heck, I'd even put that on my blog :)

  2. Hi, Doug--The Miele is so Euro-sleek, even I can't figure out a way to injure myself using it. And it is so cute and cheerful looking that it makes you want to hug it rather than impale it. But I'll have the FlipVideo ready next time I attempt to "service" it myself! :) Take care! Karen