Operator error


Sometimes, admitting a glaring mistake can be difficult.

Generally speaking I am not the typical alpha male. I have no trouble asking for directions if we are in a strange place, I always consult the instructions on flat pack furniture and will happily look up the Internet if I am stuck with something.

That said, last week we took delivery of a new ‘replacement’ vacuum cleaner.

Our history with these items has been one of extremely mixed fortune. In our 18 years of marriage we have had many. We bought an expensive Dyson when they were just new on the market and were astounded with the prowess of this remarkable machine in our tidy new house. It seemed to find dust and fluff where there appeared to be none, assuring us that our home was beyond immaculate underfoot.

Bringing this machine into our renovation project proved to be it’s undoing. Around the time we moved here a friend gave us her old machine as a spare, it was great for capturing the first round of century old dust before using our own newer model. It didn’t take too long before both of these dust collectors succumbed to the over exertion we put them through.

As the house gradually took on a more homely appearance we purchased a new cleaner. This one managed to survive around 5 years before it’s eventual demise.

The downside of a property with a lot of floorspace and high ceilings is that a lot of dust seems to move around all the time. Add to this two exuberant children charging up and down and you have a perpetual soup of cellular glee.

It was decided that an expensive cleaner was not in the budget last December so we plumped for a cheap bagless fellow with a reasonable sized motor. These have a collection of cleanable filters and rely on airflow to ensure fluff collecting ability.

I dutifully accepted my place as filter cleaner and would remove blockages from all filters and tubes as required.

About a month ago we noticed that while the clear collection cylinder still filled with dust in a satisfying manner, the bits of fluff on the carpet just appeared to move around from one place to another. They would hitch a ride for a moments before leaving at another point further along. It was like pensioners on public transport, “two stops please driver.”

In frustration I contacted the manufacturer, after supplying all the details, proof of purchase, photos of the cleaner and detailed explanation of our fluff bus service they agreed to replace the machine free of charge.

Today I decided to strip the old one down to its constituent parts to see if anything could be salvaged, perhaps it may do for cleaning the car. Every screw was removed and all corners cleaned before reassembly.

It was as I stripped the removable dust collector that I noticed something previously unseen. Two little arrows betrayed the presence of the ‘main’ filter hidden within the central cone. To say that it was tightly packed with dust does not fully describe what came out of there. Perhaps something akin to a tub of talcum powder.

It was as I put the final part back on to the cleaner we noticed a label instructing us of the location and necessity of cleaning this filter regularly.

So now we have 2 perfectly functioning vacuum cleaners and the knowledge gained to keep them in working order.

I don’t feel guilty. It used to be that you received comprehensive instructions in many languages for new products, now you get a vague sticker. I enjoyed trying to read the instructions in Spanish, and if owning two identical products is my recompense for being denied the privilege of knowing the Spanish for “change filter regularly” then I will just need to live with that.

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