Jan 26, 2005

It has come to my attention

that most of my recent posts have been dedicated to cats, and cat lovemaking. This was for a reason: because I have several cats copulating outside my windows 24/7.

But, let's forego that for a few moments. I have been posting a lot about cats. The more observant of you, and perhaps the people who have just found this blog have noticed that I did not post about cats recently, and in keeping with not posting about cats (except for the brief explanatory section above) this post will have nothing to do with cats.

It has everything to do, however, with vacuum cleaners.

My boss is not the sharpest tack in the box. He's one of the better ones, but he's not there yet. He has been complaining about me not keeping the carpet in my department vacuumed regularly, and I tell him (I think this morning was about the three thousandth time to tell him) that I no longer work hours before the store opens, a design intended to help me sell more. I don't vacuum during the middle of the day or for that matter ANY time the store is open because I find it difficult to sell to customers when I have a vacuum cleaner in my hand and cannot hear them ask me questions, cannot hear the intercom page me for phone calls, and in general am cut off from the entire world for about an hour.

So, flying in the face of common sense and what I have been telling him, he decides that the reason I don't vacuum anymore is that the machine I had was too old. I told him several hundred times that it was fine, but he didn't care.

So this morning he invites me into the office with a big shit-eating grin to show me the new vacuum he's purchased for the store. And not just any vacuum, a $99 special at Home Depot that has not one but FOUR machines for the price of one!

So. My initial impression was a pretty good one. Four machines, fair price, and they were all moulded in what could only be described as Candy Apple Red. Plus the vacuum looked like it had been designed by Pinafarina. It could have said "Ferrari" on the nose and not "Dirt Devil" and I would have believe it. It displayed all sorts of sculpted plastic, exposed matte black tubing, and a monstrously big clear acrylic barrel in the front that housed what looked like a warp nacelle, and the back wheels, usually little sickly swivels were these massive fixed monstertruck wheels, made for crashing through cars and mountains of mud. I was used to the old heavy model, the industrial brother, so it was a aurprise when I found that this new model weighed slightly less than many cigars I have smoked.

The stick broom vacuum thing was the same, only thin to the point of being Kate Moss, and more of a Churchill length to the vacuum's Double Corona. The little hand-portable vac looked like the big vacuum had laid it in a nest somewhere, and that if I sat on it long enough it would hatch into a baby Dirt Devil Platinum, all dark red and black plumbing. I never saw the foaming carpet washer thing because by that time I was reeling from the Dirt Devil's design bureau ideas.

Emboldened by the Dirt Devil Platinum's demonic good looks, I plugged it to the extension cord, got to my usual starting point, released the handle lock, and turned the power on.

I think I screamed, but I couldn't hear it over the unearthly howl of the DDP. I'm telling you, this thing was SO LOUD that it made the old loud one sound like a fart in a tornado. It was drawing enough power out of the grid that the metal halide lights overhead dimmed, and I swear I was ready for it to start pulling the concrete slab to pieces and sucking it up into the acrylic hurricane that was inside the front. I made a few experimental passes with it, to see if it was going to start tearing the carpeting up, and realised that it, in fact, WAS. Between the strength of the carpet beater bar and the cyclonic engine it was literally exfoliating industrial carpeting and sucking this thin grey shredded fuzz into the canister. I kid you not. When I was done I dumped what had to be a double-handful of grey nylon froth out of the canister.

As I started across the carpet a strange thing occurred to me--I realised that the vacuum motor was designed to vent out of the front of the vacuum, down low under the canister, and vent it was doing. With a vengeance. This thing was pushing out enough air that it was literally PUSHING dust and debris ahead of it. I found myself for the next hour chasing bits of styrofoam and pieces of paper and dirt across the carpet in little lunges and leaps. I found that if you were fast enough you could out-speed the exhaust winds and catch the little buggers in the intake, but most times it was more like trying to vacuum with a Husqvarna leaf-blower.

Even stranger was the apparent Coriolis Effect produced by this huge exhalation--there seemed to be a sort of secondary vacuum effect just to each side of the front, so that if I saw a piece of offending debris and wanted to vacuum it up I couldn't approach it frontally without blowing it out the front door, I had to sort of vacuum BESIDE it, and the Coriolis force would draw it up to the front and in.

What I want to know is what sort of freaking engineering genius at Dirt Devil decided to put this 150 mph exhaust at the FRONT of the vacuum, and how it got past R&D or, for that matter, Quality Control. Didn't anyone test it out and say to themselves "Hmm...seems to work pretty well off to the sides, and makes a great leaf blower for the yard, but it really stinks as a vacuum." Or were they all saying "Well, I guess someone further up the line wanted it this way, and I'm for sure not going to buck the system."

Makes me want to take up vacuum cleaner design.

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