by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Here’s a big old downside to having three kids under the age of five: dirt. Not just your average dirt but challenging messes, stinky smells, unsightly stains of unknown origin. Sometimes I will walk through my living room, across what used to be a lovely Persian rug and I will feel a horrible stab into the bottom of my foot. When I reach down I am sure to find paraphernalia from Elby’s Ice-cream Hamburger Play Dough Kit at best. At worst I may see that I’m bleeding from an errant thumb tack or plastic fork. The bottom line is that I clearly need to spend more time cleaning and less time bitching or blogging or whatever the hell else is taking up my days lately (No, Jon, I’m not ignoring the housekeeping because I’m busy playing Scramble on Facebook) But, in my defense, it’s really hard to keep the place tidy because as soon as I clean up one mess, another one crops up in its place. Have you ever tried to clean macaroni and cheese off the floor only to realize that from your new vantage point you can see tuna fish on the walls that you missed the last time?
Every evening my husband and I traipse around the house trying to at least clear a path to the couch so we can watch TV without bruising ourselves. Even if the floor is devoid of toys, we still can’t walk barefoot unless we want to have dirty feet from the crumbs and dirt the babies trekked in from the park. Something needs to change. We have someone who comes in to clean once every two weeks to protect our house from incubating the hauntavirus but an hour after she’s left you’d never know she’s been here. It’s not enough; we need live-in help.
And this is where I have a genius idea: We’re buying a Roomba. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? Maybe it’s because until today I only had a vague idea of what a Roomba is. I had a vague notion of a rogue robot vacuum cleaner that “senses” dirt and attacks but it sounded so futuristic that I hadn’t actually realized they’re already available to the general public. I thought perhaps they’re still in the stage where only astronauts can own them or scientists with a special license. But today I wandered through Bed, Bath & Beyond and I came upon a display of Roombas with an accompanying in-store commercial. Turns out these little guys are domesticated and ready to bring home for personal use. I watched the video and Roomba looked downright harmless just spinning around like a big Ms. Pac-Man gobbling up crayon bits and orange Nerds while avoiding coffee table legs like it’s its job. But obviously you don’t plunk down three hundred bucks (minus 20% because I have a coupon) on a robot without doing a little research. The first clerk who approached looked kind of worried when I said I had questions and he quickly sent over a woman who I guess is more versed with the robots.
“Martha” gave me the Rooba rundown explaining how it runs on a battery and when it’s running low on its charge, it zips itself back over to its home base to recharge. That seemed sort of cool. But then she continued on saying that Roomba will go from room to room cleaning unless you set up an infrared light beam to make Roomba stay within one area, but there can be instances where Roomba passes through the beam to places you don’t want it to go. When I heard this I got a little worried. Places I don’t want it to go? Like where? We’ve all heard about robots having a mind of their own. Is Roomba going to bust out of the playroom, make its way into my bedroom, scale the dresser and rifle through my underwear drawer? Because that, is not so cool. Martha assured me that hardly ever happens. Sure. And I’ll bet Roomba hardly ever gets hungry and eats the family Chihuahua either. With growing suspicion I asked Martha if anyone’s ever returned Roomba claiming negligent homicide. Judging from the look of concern she gave me, I may have to accept the fact that my household isn’t ready for robots. After all, Jon and I have three young children to protect, not to mention a stray cat named Clyde who lives in our backyard. I suppose I could try to step up my vacuuming from never to every day…or better yet, we’ll all just wear socks.