I looked down at my feet in time to see my cat's teeth almost pop out of her jaw through her impassioned screech. I knew the sources of her distress:
We were currently experiencing a magnitude 6.0 earthquake.
And she was being pursued by a robotic vacuum cleaner.
"Have you seen that thing? Is it a robotic cat? Why does it bump into walls? LOOK! ITS BUMPING HAS MADE THE WHOLE BUILDING ROCK! HOW COULD YOU HAVE LET IT IN HERE?"
Up until that evening, I had been using a cordless stick vacuum cleaner I had bought second hand. That particular device had many good points; it was light and easy to maneuver, it didn't take up much space in my apartment and it had a built-in dust buster than was great for cleaning up cat litter. What is truly failed on was carpet.
The study area of my apartment is almost entirely covered by a thick rug I bought from Ikea in Canada. This is the location where Tallis uses her scratch pad and rolls around in a box filled with cat nip. It is also where I normally eat dinner while watching an episode of 'Naruto'. The stick vacuum can take this area from 'major biohazard' to 'probably won't kill you if you leave quickly'. I can't honestly say I've ever found this totally satisfactory, although there are some weeks where the thought I might not make it through the month acts as a ray of hope.
Buying a new vacuum cleaner was therefore on my list. However, the choice wasn't obvious since the machine had to be able to clear a carpet but not be so bulky that storing would be a problem. After deep consideration of many models, I went for the most logical compromise:
Screw the practicalities and get something amusing.
An amazon review then made the choice of a Roomba iRobot cleaner obvious: "Smart technology, no work for me, drives the dog nuts - what's not to like?!"
It sounded perfect.
I confess, I was skeptical as to its real cleaning powers. What I actually required (apart from a good laugh at my cat's expense) was a machine with better suction than my stick vacuum. It seemed to me that the amount of oomph you could get from a Roomba's spinny centripetal motion was never going to rival a large upright cylinder with room for all kinds of exciting upward air currents.
Yet, amazingly enough, it does the job.
OK, its cleaning random walk is sometimes a little too random. Rather like me, it needs to be boxed into an area for maximum efficiency to ensure it doesn't wander off into the kitchen and leave patches unfinished. Sometimes it loses the location of its docking station. Sometimes this is because I accidentally locked it in the bedroom. Once it found its way under a chair but then couldn't escape. It kept devotedly cleaning the same purple square of carpet until I came and rescued it.
It is a little too loud for comfortable background noise. Ideally, I'd turn it on and then leave the apartment but I'm reluctant to do this until I'm certain it won't have a show down with the cat.
Its instruction manual is in English which I feel disproportionately grateful for after the difficulty with buying a microwave. I have made full use of this good fortune by storing the manuals safely on my bookcase and then just hitting the vacuum's large central button labelled 'start'. Ideally, I'd move onto the more advanced options, but it's hard to summon up the necessary effort when you can get so much for so little.
Now my carpet is clean and the cat is exhausted. It's really one big win all round.
In other news, please excuse my lack of updates… teaching is eating me in one mega goat gulp.