Last Friday, my daughter had a nasty little fit, and by ‘nasty little fit’ I mean ‘tantrum that would make Mt. Vesuvius look like a nice warm bath in comparison’. Sometimes you deal with that when you have an over-tired, hungry kid with ADHD who has completely melted down over some major catastrophe in life, like a video game crashing. I came home after a frantic call from my son to find covers ripped off my bed and an overturned trash can. She was promptly banned from my room, which has the best computers. I also made her eat some food with protein, and about 15 minutes later The World Was A Much Better Place.
Anyway, part of her penance included cleaning up the mess she made. I told her to bring the vacuum upstairs so that she could clean up the trash that had spilled on the carpet. Naturally, she carried up our canister vacuum by the hose. I think it is a constitutional requirement that all 10 year olds carry things by the hoses or cords, rather than the designated handles. If you guessed that about 3/4 of the way up the stairs, the hose gave way, you would be 100% correct. The rest of the vacuum went tumbling down the stairs, crash-landing on the first floor.
She was devastated.
I cheered. I hated that vacuum from the day I bought it, but I had bought it used and couldn’t return it. After I told her that she’d done me a huge favor by allowing me to buy a vacuum that I actually liked, she felt a little better. I did also explain that carrying things by hoses or cords is generally a Bad Idea.
Now, being A Geeky Mom, I had to go find a new vacuum cleaner. This, of course, required a trip not to a vacuum store, but to Best Buy, where they also had Call of Duty: Black Ops and assorted other gaming goodies. One must have one’s priorities.
Once home, I put CoD:Black Ops, the 360 controller charger cord (I figure the controller will get a lot more use), and headphones over by the Xbox, and then unpacked the vacuum cleaner–a Bissell Lift-off Multi-Cyclonic vacuum. Given my love affair with tornadoes, anything with ‘cyclone’ in its description automatically won points with me. It also had a pet hair cleaning feature. Since we have pets that shed about 2000 bushels of fur every 8.3 seconds, this was deemed to be A Necessary Feature by the kids and me. I carefully read the manual and put the vacuum together. I was proud of Bissell for being ‘gender-inclusive’ and showing a woman putting the vacuum together instead of a man. They did not show a picture of her actually wielding the necessary screwdriver, but this clearly is progress. Either that or it’s commentary on how men still will not touch a vacuum, even if it does somehow involve using power tools.
After successfully assembling the handle to the rest of the vacuum and putting hoses where hoses should go, I was looking at the photos in the instruction manual to determine where to put all the accessory tools. I also read the cautions, notices, and quid pro quos.
This was when I decided that some lawyer for Bissell had decided all of us vacuum-wielders are brain-cell challenged.
Included with my nifty new vacuum was something called the “Pet TurboEraser Tool”. This is incidentally how I describe my kids and their pooper-scooper job. Anyway, the instruction manual explained how to properly use the tool, and then made this note: “The Pet TurboEraser Tool is designed to remove pet hair from upholstered or carpeted surfaces. It should not be used on pets.” I suddenly had an image of a chihuahua sucked into the tool, or Don Corleone rasping, “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” and then holding up the Pet TurboEraser, complete with a tuft of Yorkie hair with a little red bow hanging out of the bottom.
Some of my favorite ‘Important Safety Instructions’ included these gems:
“Do not put any object into openings.” Isn’t the goal of a vacuum to, well, VACUUM UP DUST AND OTHER TINY OBJECTS?
“Do not pick up flammable materials (Lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, etc.)” Yes, because I always turn to my vacuum for cleaning up gas spills.
“Do not pick up anything that is burning or smoking, such as cigarettes, matches, or hot ashes.” Apparently the lawyers are worried that we’ve somehow confused the vacuum with a fire extinguisher.
My favorite–“Do not use vacuum cleaner in an enclosed space filled with vapors given off by oil base paint, paint thinner, some moth proofing substances, flammable dust, or other explosive or toxic vapors.” Yes, because the FIRST thing I’m going to think about doing when entering a room filled with toxic vapors is vacuuming the carpet.
I’m relieved that the lawyers writing this consider it vitally important to protect us from blowing ourselves up by using our vacuums inside rooms full of explosive vapors. Where would we be without them thinking about these things?