What happened to vacuum cleaners?

best-shark-vacuum-modelI’m sure you’ve kept up with the times better than I have, but they now look like you could use them to fight dragons. With a charging unit and fleet of attachments, they require a room of their own.

Cliff and I have been through several over 40 years of marriage. An orange Kenmore in the disco 70s, followed by an emerald one in the late 80s when jewel tones were fashionable. Each one worked like a charm. Bags were easily replaceable. Attachments made sense.

But in St. Paul, vacuum change was in the air. We were forced to buy one that I never understood. It was a bagless, upright model that I struggled to push without acquiring a horse.

Attachments defied attaching. I finally taped the directions for emptying the basket to the side of it. The maneuver required a simultaneous twisting, pulling, and lifting that baffled my joints and memory.

I’d usually end up leaving the thing in the middle of the room, surrounded by dog hair.

Cliff took over until a backache convinced him to donate it to Goodwill. He replaced it with a neon yellow machine that I simply could not master, leaving tiny piles of dust across hardwood and carpet in my wake.

Point made, we began the search for something I could maneuver. I asked a friend who admitted she was terrified of new vacuums, too, and prayed for her old standby to last another 15 years.

Another friend said she left her husband in charge of buying one, but she is unable to work any of the attachments.

the_chefs_table_croppedSo I walked into Bed, Bath and Beyond and asked for help. A young clerk eagerly read labels aloud to me, exclaiming over statements about ease and intensity. “Oh!” she squealed. “This one is really pretty!”

I wasn’t looking for one that coordinated with my outfits. When my old-person’s practical questions puzzled her, she found the manager who whipped attachments through the air with the dexterity of a Benihana chef.

“This is our most popular. Would it work for you?” she asked, beaming.

“Only if it comes with an espresso attachment and you,” I replied.

Finally in the office of our insurance agent’s tidy space, I spoke up, Medicare supplements being beyond my understanding anyway. I presented my vacuum case, not because it was relevant, but because she was my age and seemed highly competent about the intricate New World.

I described my former Kenmores from Sears with all the nostalgia of summer picnics and lemonade. “I know what you mean,” she said and revealed her husband had just purchased a vacuum that excited him but mystified her.

“Go to the Sears store on Main Street in Norwalk. They’ll understand.”


Sears on Main Street. Who knew that remained possible. My first skates and bicycle came from a Sears on a Main Street.

eaa9ec0d8673353f5463eedfc4f17926The store manager identified with my dilemma about new vacuums that looked like weaponry. They carried those, too. Then he showed us something reliable and approachable–the updated version of my old Kenmore.

It won’t slay dragons.

No espresso attachment either.

But it works beautifully and easily.

And, by the way, it matches my new chair.

11 thoughts on “Vacuum 2.0

  1. I’m glad that we were able to find a new sweeper that you can understand. It really is a vacuum maze out there, but you did get through without too much consternation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The simples things in life…. My mother kept her Electrolux (it probably stayed with the home when they sold) for a bazillion years. I had one also. Good thing I moved into a home with a central vacuum because mine had died and I was perplexed over what to do…
    My house is up for sale and I am now worried about vacuuming my future home… Thanks, Karen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah ha ha ha ha!!! Yes! It’s so true!!!! I have a Kirby that I bought in the early 80’s that is a tank! It’s not great with fluffing up the carpet but the attachments are really good and, if I chose to do so, I could even paint with it! But it’s so heavy that, now in my golden years it’s impossible to use, so I went to a “bagless”. Don’t even start me on that…..I’m desperately seeking a decent bag vacuum cleaner…..so your observations hit a definite chord. If this is on your FB page, I definitely need to share it!


    1. I knew there had to be more of us out there. I truly appreciate your remarks. New things can be baffling, and after that day in BB&B, I knew I had to get equipment I could understand–without a live-in vacuum whisperer. (By the way, you can share it from this very site. At the end of the post, you should see a row of icons: Press This, Twitter, Facebook, Google. Just press Facebook.)


  4. This is so funny and so true. And you didn’t even touch on the robot vacuums I’m seeing now. Thanks for a chuckle from me and my (bright orange) Kenmore!


    1. Oh, for our old orange Kenmore; I envy you. I’m afraid cottony Siberian husky hair put ours out of commission. When I shared my BB&B experience with Maggie, sly girl that she is, she suggested I get an old-fashioned wire rug beater. Then in the spring I could throw the area rugs over the clothesline and whip them clean. So I’ve taken her advice and just bought one at the antique store. It now hangs on a 150-year-old nail that was pounded into our fireplace wall. We’ll have a good laugh.


  5. Vacuums that slay dragons. Hilarious! I needed that laugh. I had some house guests for about three months. their thank you to me was a new vacuum. My old hand held just wasn’t cutting it.

    I thought, “SCORE!” A vacuum that’s going to solve all my problems. It sucks up on one end and spews out the other. I feel your pain. I feel your pain.

    Now that Sears is going out of business, what to do now?


    1. What a disappointment. And I know you have dogs, too. I think Sears has been given a second chance, so we’re hanging on by a thread. By the way, that new Kenmore works like a charm. (If dragons appear, I’ll have no backup though.)

      Liked by 1 person

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