JUST before Christmas I bought a new vacuum cleaner.
I had, I realise now, inappropriately inflated ambitions about housecleaning.
I took it home and where it flatly refused to work.
The vacuum cleaner stood on the charger for three days, sullen and silent.
No matter what button I pushed it would not work.
Nothing. Nix. Nada. Zero. Zip.
So I took it back to the shop, explained how it wasn't working and could I have a refund please.
The salesman picked it up, pressed the button and it instantly burst into life.
It works, he said.
I am happy it works for you here in the store, I said irritably, but if it doesn't work for me at home, then it is of no use.
Ah well, he said, if it's working we can't really give you a refund.
He looked at me and I looked at him and two more salesmen came and stood behind the counter, pressing the buttons and the vacuum cleaner was more than willing to whir and buzz for them.
I said why you don't just keep it, because I don't want a machine that doesn't work.
They exchanged quick glance.
The look that says "uh oh, older woman, tread carefully”.
Admittedly I was feeling a little testy, not the least about the machine and its willingness to dance for the nice men in the shop.
I mustered what dignity I had left and said, look, I will take it home and try it (because I love carrying vacuum cleaners through town on hot days).
If it doesn't work I will bring it back.
The men exchanged the look which says older woman on the premises, tread carefully.
Oh, said the man behind the counter, if that's the case, we can give you a store credit.
"I don't want store credit, just a machine that works,” I said loftily and made my way, as elegantly as one can when carrying a vacuum cleaner, out of the store.
Just to add to the richness of my life, all the while a woman, dressed as if she came from Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings, wearing a long muddy brown outfit topped by a long muddy green cloak with a hood, hovered nearby occasionally darting quick glances at the machine.
The moral of the story?
1. Machines win every time - which is absolutely infuriating.
2. Cleaning is for fools.
As English writer Quentin Crisp said: "there is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse”.
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