We went through a phase a couple of years ago where we were against buying new things. Aside from groceries, of course. And gasoline. And toothbrushes. OK, there were many exceptions. But for the most part, when used would do, used was what we bought. It was partly a green thing, partly a money (the “other green”) thing, and partly a genuine belief that old is (often) better.
Then our vacuum cleaner broke, and Mike said he would look for a second-hand replacement.
“Uh, OK,” I said, hesitantly.
“OK” was shorthand, of course, for “OK, if you can find a 2008 Miele, or the barely used Oreck of a documentary filmmaker moving to Toronto.” I said that last part telepathically.
Later that day he showed up with this:
“Goodness!” I sang, shrilly. “What’s thi-is?” I didn’t know what else to say. An Electrolux cannister vacuum? Circa 1910? (OK, maybe later, but come on, look at that plug!) What the — !
My husband looked at me quizzically. “What’s the problem?”
“Um, did you buy this in an antique store?”
“Craig’s List. I found an old man –”
“– who sells vacuum cleaners,” he continued, giving me the fisheye. “They’re refurbished. You said you wanted to reduce your footprint.”
Refurbished? Rescusciated, was more like it. If there was an old age home for appliances somewhere, this thing was its original tenant.
“But honey –”
My husband raised one eyebrow at me. “It works great.”
I knew I was beaten. Thoroughly. Even if I had been able to change his mind, old men on Craig’s List have a fairly unforgiving return policy.
In the end, it worked pretty well. Yes, there were issues. It vented air out of its back end — at gale force. A door on it popped open — randomly and often — causing the entire thing to shut off and me to use language more colorful than appropriate. The plug fell out of outlets at the gentlest tug, so that nearly any time you moved from one spot to anther you lost power.
I’ll be frank. I had a love/hate relationship with the thing. Still, it worked well enough for long enough that my husband was proven right. I even came to be somewhat fond of its quirks.
So it is with (little or) no joy that I say: it finally died. Today. Its little compartment door flapped open and shut — as if in gasps — and it quit.
It had a long life. I shouldn’t grieve. I’m not. It’s just, the irony of it is, we finally live in a house where that vacuum really fit in. A home dedicated entirely to appliances of its ilk. A Museum of Jurassic Appliances, as it were, where it could have lived long, happily, and totteringly in the estimable company of its century-old peers. Like:
Our Gaffers and Sattler dishwasher, and:
Our Caloric (complete with attempted-graffiti-paint-over on side) Range.
How beautiful they all would have looked, clustered together of an evening, their 50’s-era tones glinting in the fluorescent light, clumsy frames momentarily relaxed, laughing together as they compared energy inefficiency, outdated fonts and infuriatingly cryptic buttons.
Alas it is not to be. The two survivors will have to struggle on alone.
R.I.P Methusala. Oh, and if you need me? I’ll be at Best Buy.
I put in a new bag and it works fine.
vacuum cleaner saga – to be continued.
I was actually looking for a refurbished v.c. the other day. Go to any repair shop – they’re all run by old guys who look like they spend their days with their hands up a dusty machine’s ass.
Undoubtedly, he glared at Mike and croaked: “That is an Electrolux. Late 60’s. Worth refurbishing.”
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