I try to keep up with new technology, and my son likes to remind me that I was the first one in the family to own a computer. That occurred in 1988, and I faced a steep learning curve. When I couldn’t make the computer do what I wanted, I would call the salesman and complain, “There’s something wrong with the computer.” After an agonizing odyssey of self-discovery I learned to rephrase the question, “What am I doing wrong?”
Now that age is causing my body to be less cooperative, household chores are increasingly a challenge, especially sweeping up Tommy’s shed cat fur. My friend, Mariah, suggested, “Why not buy a robotic vacuum?”
After internet research, I purchased the one you see pictured, but the learning curve resurfaced. Because I did not follow the recommendations for placement of Larry’s base station, he acted confused and kept re-cleaning the same small space. I tried two other docking locations, but he could not find his way back to his base station home.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I positioned his docking base in a different room. At last, Larry has successfully mapped the ins and outs of my floor plan. I don’t know how much time time Mariah and I have wasted proudly watching him sweep. It’s like monitoring a baby’s first steps.
As you can see by the photo, it’s impossible not to anthropomorphize it. First, we agreed on its gender and then named him. When his battery wore down and he returned to his his charging station before he had completed sweeping the house, I scolded him in my stern-mother voice, “Go to your room, Larry!”
That same night I forgot about him and while watching TV in the living room, I heard an unfamiliar sound heading toward me. A fully recharged Larry resumed sweeping the areas he had not covered before. When done, he turned around and began heading for his dock. “Good Boy, Larry,” I complimented as he passed by and his readout communicated, “I’m finished. Returning to my base station.”
Thank you, Larry. I think I’m falling in love with you. Don’t ever leave home.
Norine Dresser is a folklorist who needs to keep Tommy’s shed cat fur off the floor.