When you live in a house with four cats and two dogs, who shed with the same prolificacy as Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree lost its needles, one must (let me rephrase that to “I must”) in order not to look like a complete slob, vacuum every.single.day. Every day.
But wait, there’s more.
Because precisely after vacuuming, the cats have seemingly synchronized their watches as that is when they track litter out of their box across the mudroom floor and down the hall, which requires sweeping up. Then, of course, if one (that would be “me,” again) doesn’t keep the litter box immaculate, the dogs will surely follow their noses and … well, you know, they’re disgusting, what they eat. Cat droppings in the litter box must appear to be some delectable canine version of Shake ’n’ Bake.
It was hearing rave reviews from friends, as well as my non-stop complaining and cussing, that led Paul to bringing home one of those spherical robot vacuum cleaners. A gadget lover, Paul had the thing up and running, emitting adorable little beeps as he commanded it forward and backward—honestly, like something out of The Jetsons—before putting it on “auto” and giving it free rein of our home.
Reader, I was in love. Deep, abiding, agape love. When I returned home from a speaking engagement later that night to find the floors of our cabin fur free … dirt free … litter free … well, what else could I do? Seeing the robot, having returned meekly and obediently to its power station beneath the china cabinet, I moved one of the cats off the sofa and placed the thing on my lap.
“What are you doing?” Paul frowned.
“I’m petting it,” I replied, gazing adoringly down at its glossy black finish. “Good, boy. Gooooood boy. You deserve a treat for all that work.”
“It’s a machine. It’s a robot. You know, one of the A-1 things you’ve sworn up and down you would never allow into the house because they’re going to take over the world and kill us all?”
My hand stopped in mid-air as I considered my words coming back to haunt me, which Paul had just articulated. Yes, truth be told, I am terrified of robots. Especially that big-dog one that can jump over picnic tables and attack humans (although they would rock the Iditarod). Not to mention how Artificial Intelligence is poised to take over (according to Brookings) 36 million American jobs in the very near future, with no one expecting the labor force to simply sort itself out and coast along, unscathed.
But this adorable little vacuum cleaner … it’s so helpful, it’s so convenient. … Surely it’s not giving off some sort of secret code to the New World Order, who will come buzzing over my home in a fleet of black helicopters (this is how I think), or to that dog robot who's going to come crashing through my window in the middle of the night and kill me in my sleep? Right? Right?
It’s going back tomorrow.