Complete Vacuum Chaos

Last Friday, before leaving to go pick up Erin from the airport, I decided to make one last quick vacuum of my apartment. My place came with this tiny, apartment style vacuum that I have always thought was somewhat sub-par. It wasn’t nearly as powerful as my parent’s Animal Hair Picker Upper 2000, but I thought the smaller size and non-animal hair specific qualities could account for the lack of power. Well, last Friday it was pulling up absolutely nothing. After five months of vacuuming cat hair, I decided it was time to investigate changing the bag.

This was going well until I pulled the bag out (along with a giant cloud of dust) and realized that most likely, this bag wasn’t disposable. The plastic cover was an old plastic that was both discolored and brittle with age. The previous owner has seemingly taped the bag back together with brown masking tape. I haven’t seen extra bags, either in my apartment nor the grocery store, so my first instinct was that this was somehow reusable. Of course my next step was to call my parents. Though I want to be independent and a creative problem solver, issues of vacuum bags and faulty oven electricity should be left to the experts (and parents are experts in everything, duh). My dad asked if the bag was cloth or paper, I replied, “Cloth”. There was my answer: reusable.

But how, one must ask, do you empty a reusable vacuum bag. After careful investigation, I saw that the bottom of the bag was held together by a removable slide apparatus. Once that was removed, the contents could fall out of the bottom of the bag. I want to reuse resources and recycle and save our dear planet, but for sanitary purposes, I think that some things should simply being disposable. For example, kitchen clothes and vacuum bags.

I left my Skype on and went to the kitchen to dispose of the contents. The dust and cat hair and human hair and cigarette butts (clearly not mine), were so packed together that I had to pull them out of the bag. Gross. With every loosened clump, a cloud of dust shot straight into my face, and my mom was able to hear every squeamish yell.

I cleaned out as much as I could and attempted to put the bag back in the vacuum. Thanks to many early mornings spent cleaning at Banana Republic, I had a general idea of how to the bag back together. That is, of course, until I realized that the seal was completely broken. I tried as best I could to close the seal and showed my parents my proud work. I turned on the vacuum and within seconds a cloud of smoke was coming out of the back of the vacuum! I squealed, my parents started laughing and in unison said, “The bag isn’t sealed correctly.” No joke.

With a kaputt bag and a desperate need to vacuum, I gathered my Spanish dictionary, checked the words for “to work” and “vacuum” and went downstairs to ask Enrique, my doorman, if there was a vacuum I could borrow. He told me that unfortunately there wasn’t one. I assured him not to worry because Alvaro was going to bring the vacuum from his house.

And he did, which was very sweet, but now I am vacuum-less and have a cat that is still in the Northern Hemisphere when it comes to climate and she is shedding with each and every step. Until I can find another vacuum bag, it looks like I’ll be creating a DIY cleaning device to handle all this hair. Thanks, Peru.