I shouldn’t have so much affection for a robot.
There, I said it.
I am far too fond of this vacuum, heck it even has a name. Internetz meet Gertie, my newest minion¹:
Do you remember the story, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury?
Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.
Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were a crawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their moustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house was clean.
Gertie IS my robot mouse. Now if we can just skip the nuclear apocalypse part, I am perfectly content to be living in the future.
Gertie is an iRobot 530 Roomba
Would you believe I haven’t swept since February 22? Do you know how much time I have back in my life? I loathe sweeping, it’s one of my least favorite chores, because as soon as I’m done, it’s time to do it again, at least in our house where kids and the dog traipse in and out all day long².
I’m more inspired to make sure -read that as make the kids do this- that all the Legos and potential Roomba hazards are off the floor at any given time. This in itself keeps the house looking cleaner.
It is the first appliance I’ve that has reduced the net amount of work in my life. For the record, I’m counting appliances invented in my lifetime, washing machines and dishwashers have been around a lot longer than me.
Our other minions will someday be coordinated enough to take over some chores, but they have been mess makers from day one.
We have a large basset hound who plays an important role in our family. He is the shedder and he does it well, probably too well, but the iRobot is keeping up with him. We’ll know for sure in the late spring when he goes into his annual allergy-driven shed mode, but so far so good.
I also have a new routine. Each night before I go to bed, I turn the barstools over on the counter -takes me back to my bartending days- and turn on the Roomba before I head to my room. Usually while I’m reading, I hear the congratulatory tones that mean “All done” and hear the Roomba send itself back to its charger. How awesome is that? A vacuum that tucks itself into bed? I admit it, I am totally anthropomorphizing a vacuum cleaner, but wouldn’t you?
Our home has solid flooring and an open floor plan on on the main level. I moved our Dyson upstairs to tackle the carpeting. In order to give a fair review, I did give the Roomba a try on the carpet, but overall I still prefer our Dyson Animal for pure sucking power, even though it’s almost 7 years old. The thing about hard flooring is that suction doesn’t matter much at all, on carpet the Dyson rules. Now if they ever automate. . .
There are some people for whom I would not suggest a Roomba:
Clutterbugs – if you have a lot of junk on the floor, getting ready to set the Roomba is going to be just as big a pain as getting ready to use a regular vacuum.
The OCD – the Roomba does not make nice, straight traditional vacuum lines
People with lots of nooks and cubby holes to vacuum or several small rooms not on the same level – for example, a sunken living room, in a split level house would make the chore aggravating.
Finally, people with lots of carpeting and several pets. There comes a point where the small dirt collection bin on the Roomba would become annoying to empty. I don’t mind doing it each morning, but if I had to stop it mid job, to empty the vacuum it would grow tiresome.
I should note that if you have exceptionally deep recesses under your kitchen cabinetry, you may still have to get down there and whisk out the crumbs once in a while.
Would I charge a Roomba on a credit card? No. Absolutely not.
Would I qualify this as anything other than a luxury purchase? No.
Would I skip eating out and other treats for a while to save up? Yes. Absolutely.
Send your questions to email@example.com.
¹I received an iRobot 530 Roomba from iRobot gratis. I was not asked to do a review.
²Rarely noted drawback of homeschooling, the dirt trackers don’t disappear for 6 hours a day.