My first official household job when I became a newly minted teenager was the vacuuming.
Mom would drag out her antiquated upright vacuum, wheel it over to where I was sitting watching Saturday morning cartoons, and say, cheerfully, “Diane! You've just won a trip!”
There, she would pause significantly, smiling widely at me.
I knew what was coming.
Which made it distinctly un-funny.
Finally, she would add, “Around the house with the vacuum!”
I hated vacuuming.
And her vacuum, whatever it's glowing attributes in its younger days, was distinctly past its prime.
In fact, it hardly had any suction at all.
Vacuuming with a machine that hardly sucks really sucks.
So to speak.
Dutifully, and after a significant number of follow-up 'encouragements', I would drag myself out of my comfy chair, grasp the handle of my nemesis, and start in.
Look at that! It won't even pick up that piece of lint.
Have I mentioned that I hate vacuuming?
And so it went.
Every Saturday, there was a half hour or so of my life that I'd never get back.
I learned a few things:
1. Running an upright vacuum with a spinning brush over an area rug usually resulted in the disastrous ingestion of said rug.
2. Kind of funny to watch, but not so good for either the rug or the vacuum.
3. If you stood with a foot at either edge of said rug you could hold it down.
5. SPINNING BRUSHES ARE NOT TO BE TAMPERED WITH.
Hmm. I think on that last point, I will elucidate:
One day, the wretched vacuum quit sucking altogether.
For several minutes, I ran it back and forth over the same piece of lint.
Without shutting it off, I tipped it up to see if the problem was something obvious.
It was! Right . . . there.
Now, just because a vacuum had quit sucking, doesn't necessarily mean that it has stopped working.
I poked one finger towards the problem.
Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!
I dropped the vacuum and did the dance of pain, clutching my injured right pointer finger in my left hand.
Finally, I spread my hand, palm up and gazed at it.
Looked okay from here.
I turned it over.
My fingernail was black.
I kid you not.
The spinning vacuum brush had ripped it free of my finger in one quick, easy movement. Leaving it attached only by the outer edges.
And it had filled instantly with blood.
And it hurt.
Sometime later, an incessant noise intruded upon my pain and I realized, belatedly, that the vacuum was still running.
Not that it was doing any good.
I switched it off and ran to find my mom.
My black fingernail was with me for a long time.
A long time.
A reminder that vacuuming was not to be taken lightly.
Or at least that vacuums were to be treated with respect.
After that, whenever I needed to see the inner workings, not only was the beast switched off.
But it was also unplugged.
A lesson harshly taught.
But a lesson nonetheless.
P.S. I still hate vacuuming.
P.S. I still hate vacuuming.