Lifestyle

Lost in Suburbia: I, Robot Vacuum

Tracy Beckerman More Content Now
Posted: Aug. 14, 2019 8:39 am

At 1 a.m. on a Sunday, I woke up to hear the robot vacuum vacuuming. The next night it started at 2 a.m., and then Tuesday it was back to 1 a.m.

“What the heck is going on with that thing?” asked my husband as we heard the vacuum banging on our bedroom door to get in.

“Obviously, it wants to clean in here,” I said half-asleep.

“Yes, I understand that,” he said. “But why does it want to clean in here at one in the morning?”

“I dunno. Maybe it prefers to clean by moonlight?”

I decided that either my vacuum was possessed or I fed it after midnight and it turned into a Gremlin, or some joker at the factory set up a middle-of-the-night vacuuming schedule just to tick some people off. I opened the bedroom door and the vacuum rushed in to deal with what it thought was a late night dog hair emergency. I hit the off button and it let out two beeps to let me know how disappointed it was not to be allowed to take care of our fictitious cleaning crisis.

The fact that it was even turning itself on at all was a surprise to me. I hadn’t realized that the vacuum could actually be set to run itself. But when I Googled this phenomenon the next day, I found out that if I had actually read the manual I would have learned that the robot vacuum could not only run itself when I’m not home, it could also let me know when it was done. It wouldn’t however, feed or walk the dog, make dinner or pick up my drycleaning, so honestly, I’m not really sure why I was bothering with it at all.

But anyway, the only way to set the vacuum up to do vacuum things was to download a vacuum app which would let me control all the vacuum settings. If I didn’t do this, it defaulted to its factory settings, which, for some reason, was to suck up the dog hair on our floors at 1 o’clock in the morning.

After I downloaded the app, I set the vacuum to clean at 10 a.m. each day, but not to notify me when it was done or when it encountered a foreign object that was in its way or when it couldn’t finish the job because it had fallen off a cliff (the vacuum’s words, not mine). There were a myriad of notifications I could opt to get if I so opted, but I didn’t because, really, I had better things to do than be at the beck and call of my robotic vacuum all day.

Confident that I was now fully robot vacuum-literate and would no longer be bothered by late night cleanings or egregious notifications, I went on with my life.

But then one day while I was at lunch my phone pinged and when I looked at it, I saw that I had an urgent notification, so I clicked on it.

It was my robot vacuum.

It wanted me to know that it was its birthday.

I was floored (no pun intended). I had not seen this particular notification in the settings, which meant that it was either factory programmed to let me know this information or it was just taking it upon itself to tell me.

Realizing this was something I only had to worry about once a year, I decided to let this one go, and focus on the more important issue: If I got the vacuum cleaner a birthday cake and it left crumbs on the floor, would it be too much to ask it clean up after itself?

For more Lost in Suburbia, follow Tracy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage and on Twitter at @TracyBeckerman.

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