Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Revenge of the Roomba

Only in Nerd Country could I find myself crawling on my hands and knees into a garbage can filled with the pungent aroma of dog doo-doo in search of a piece to a robotic vacuum cleaner. And yet, there I crawled.

If you haven't seen one, a Roomba is a really cool round, flat robot that vacuums your floor without you having to do anything but push the "Clean" button, George Jetson style. I was dubious that the thing would actually work but Cousin Jill has one and convinced us to treat ourselves at Christmas.

The problem is that the little sucker has a relatively small dust bin, and we have multiple very large, very hairy, very inside dogs that shed fur faster than a PETA protester at a mink convention. As a result I have to clean the Roomba out every other time we use it. If it were just a matter of emptying a bin, it wouldn't be a big deal. But the dog hair gets EVERYWHERE. I have a little pick/comb combination device that came with it and I have to dig out hair wrapped around the little wheels, hair packed into the receptacle where the drive shaft goes in, hair wound around the brushes, hair entwined in the filter ... you get the picture.

The other day I had the bright idea to carry out this routine maintenance out in the garage, over our (jumbo-country-sized) outside garbage can. What could possibly go wrong when one is disassembling a robot full of very small gears over a garbage can, right? A garbage can that until that very morning had been about half full of smelly, disgusting, half-dried half-slimy dog feces after cleaning up the back yard?

You know where this is going. Within seconds one of the tiny little rotor wheels dropped out from the Roomba and landed in the bottom of the trash can. Blinking, I marveled at my stupidity. Setting the Roomba down, I leaned into the putrid abyss and fished around in the sludge for my tiny little gear. Holding my breath desperately against the noxious fumes, torso completely inside the can, I finally grasped it and flipped back out, gasping for air. I carefully -- but not carefully enough -- unwrapped the cog from whatever foul piece of paper I'd brought up with it and ... promptly dropped it again.

Unbelievable. To quote an old Scottish proverb, "Drop it once, shame on me. Drop it twice, shame on anyone who's ever known me."

This time, of course, the gear dropped into a deeper part of the trash can and I couldn't reach it by just bending down into it. Oh no, no such mercy for me! I had to tip it over and CRAWL INTO THE DISGUSTING FUNK-FILLED TRASH CAN ON MY HANDS AND KNEES to find it!

Grumbling and woozy from the fumes, I finally retrieved the gear and slammed it back into place in the Roomba. I am pretty sure the robot dropped the thing on purpose, finally seeing a way to strike back at its organic overlords. I'm trying to cool off for a few days before deciding once and for all if I'm going to keep using it as a vacuum cleaner or put it in the skeet machine for target practice. I'll keep you posted on what I decide.


Jill Phenix Avila said...

Yo Jeffrey! I clean it after every roomba session. I also run it every day, otherwise the dirt and hair builds up more then even a large vacuum should have to handle.. As for the little pieces, you shouldn't have to take it apart if you clean it after every run.

The other day I noticed my roomba running a little slow.. Corona the cat was sitting on it. I will keep a camera with me in case of just such anomalies!!

Denise said...

Jeff, I can just picture this whole scenario. The part that sticks out, though, is when you drop it the second time. I can see you standing there, over the funk, not moving for a full minute! Jeffrey, you need to write a book, bro! God, you're funny. And stinky...

Jill Phenix Avila said...

today I turned the roomba on.. I set the room divider so it wouldn't go into the guest bedroom... While doing my paperwork I forgot about roomba being on … as I was walking to my bedroom I almost jumped through the roof when I heard him bumping into the door of the guest bedroom. whew... He escaped and made a B-line to the guest bedroom. It's a much cleaner room than the rest.. I think my roomba is getting lazy!!