We were recently with our daughter’s family. They have two kids, two dogs–one of which is a Labrador retriever–and astonishingly immaculate hardwood floors. We have no little kids at home, one Labrador retriever, and hardwood floors that make people wonder if we’re running an unlicensed barber shop. Labs shed. Forget that myth about twice a year. If I could sell the dog hair I sweep up daily, I could save the world with the proceeds. It turned out that our daughter and son-in-law, who, yes, used to have floors that looked like ours, bought a robot vacuum cleaner (brand shall be unnamed by me to avoid a lawsuit) that they program to run while they’re at work. It thoroughly cleans their floors on its own, returns to its docking station in a pleasant and polite manner, recharges itself, and does its thing again the next day. (They do have to empty it, a quick little process they can do at their convenience.) It even talks to them nicely if it encounters a problem. They are all in love with this new family member, which they named Rosie.
So, of course, a nanosecond after leaving their house, we bought one, and in a burst of writerly originality, I named it Rosie “too”. We plugged her in, charged her up, and told her to clean the house while we took Scout the Lab (he who is the reason we need the house cleaned every day) on a nice long hike in the woods. Expecting to be dazzled by floors as clean as our daughter’s, we came back. I inspected. Hmmm. The failure was especially egregious since the late afternoon sun slanted through the window and all the dog hair was highlighted as it sparkled in brilliant array on the walnut flooring.
“ROSIE!” I yelled. “What the hell?” She wasn’t on the docking station and the house was silent. “Why aren’t you working!”
I started looking for the slacker.
Thirty minutes later, I still hadn’t found her.
“Rosie ran away from home already,” I told my husband, hands on my hips and making it clear that I was quite outraged.
“Well, that was a great use of money,” he said, while pouring himself a well-fermented beverage, his helpful response to domestic crises.
I finally found her. She was jammed under a bed in one of the guest rooms, tangled in a 1997 high school graduation tassel. And I’d heard she was smart. Turns out you have to read the directions, which is plain annoying, and set up virtual walls to keep her out of trouble. Lord, I might as well get a teenager.
So I sighed deeply and sort of read them, and put Rosie to work again the next day. It ended in another yelling match.
She didn’t run away (she couldn’t; I stayed home and stalked her), but she flat refused to go where I told her. Instead she kept redoing the exact same area even though I kept shouting that it was already fine, and, “Dammit, go over there where there’s whole pillows of dog hair you totally missed!”
I finally got out the broom and did it myself. It’s a work in progress. I don’t know which one of us will be trained first.