I have a long-haired black cat and pale green carpet. It didn’t take me long to discover that I have three options: I can vacuum every day, I can buy a darker coloured rug to cover the carpet so the cat fluff won’t be so obvious, or I can live with a carpet perpetually peppered with clumps of black fur.
I don’t love vacuuming enough to want to do it daily. I don’t love it at all. In fact, my optimal frequency of vacuuming is never.
My first choice would have been to buy a darker-coloured rug, but the number of rugs both I and my husband like is the same as the number of tortoises making a killing on Wall Street.
As for living with the fluff, I can handle a certain amount of fur on the carpet. But when I say “a certain amount”, I don’t mean an infinite amount, and only for so long.
Enter WALL-E, our Roomba.
In case you’ve never met a Roomba, they’re small and round and they come out automatically and ravenously eat all the dirt off your carpet before putting themselves back to bed. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
They’re also rather expensive, which is the only reason WALL-E is still alive, given what he’s done.
The arrival of WALL-E the Roomba
I was excited when WALL-E arrived. It wasn’t so much “Yay, I’ll never have to vacuum again”, as “Yay, I’ll hardly ever have to vacuum again”. Followed by storing the old vacuum in a dusty wardrobe and forgetting it existed.
At first WALL-E did a great job.
He has trouble with doorways, so we decided just to use him on the living room, where we and His Royal Fluffiness (whose name I’ve changed to protect his identity) spend most time. We set WALL-E to come on at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when we were at work, and placed the electronic gates that stop him straying across the two living room doors.
One thing you have to realise about WALL-E is that he takes his job very seriously. So if a tissue falls on the floor, he’ll do his utmost to vacuum it up. In practical terms, that means he’ll tear it to shreds and scatter it all over the room.
You’d think we’d learn after the first time. Apparently not.
WALL-E’s behaviour deteriorates
It’s not only tissues he likes to play with. Once my husband left his laptop (which is rather flat) under the couch. From the scratches that appeared all over the top of the laptop, my best guess is that the two of them had a party with too much tequila and half a dozen strippers.
Some days we get home and see WALL-E is off his stand and the living room is no cleaner than when we left. The first place I look is under the couch. Nine times out of ten, there WALL-E is, wedged under the low base and unable to go forwards or back. He beeps pathetically when I drag him out.
Under the couch isn’t the only place he gets stuck. One day he escaped into the dining room and I found him wedged between the legs of a chair.
Occasionally we forget to turn on the electronic fence that stops WALL-E escaping into the hallway. When we get home his stand is empty. He’s not under the couch. He’s not in the hallway. He’s not in the bathroom.
Inevitably he’s found his way into the library or spare room, where he’s eaten bits of paper, fluff, and knick-knacks off the floor until he’s so bloated he can’t move, at which he point he’s curled up in the sun to doze.
When we open him up we can piece together his journey through the house by the treasures (crumpled, chewed, and partly digested) we find in his stomach.
WALL-E’s greatest crime
I can forgive WALL-E most of his trespasses. I know he’s playful and adventurous, and it’s probably my fault that the fence has fallen over or run out of batteries and isn’t keeping him penned in. But one day he went too far.
When I finished the first draft of my current work in progress, all 140k words of it, I needed a way to see the whole story in a glance. I got fancy with the index cards, put a scene on each, and laid them out of the floor.
Then came the edits. I moved cards around. I laid more cards of different colours over the originals to show where I had to make changes. It was a masterpiece. (The cards, not the story, which needed a lot more work.)
I turned my back for half an hour and out came WALL-E. By the time he’d finished with it, it wasn’t nearly as beautiful.
I was not amused.
But it could have been worse. At least I’d recorded my edits before WALL-E ate them.
I forgave him in the end. I can forgive a lot if it gets me out of vacuuming.
If you liked this post, why not share it? WALL-E won’t mind.
You can grab a monthly summary of my new posts and occasional special free stuff here.