April 19, 2019

Ask not for whom the belt toils, just make sure it does

Housekeeping is a sometime thing at Cobb Manor, an occasional effort that has been known to allow the accumulated dirt to devour vacuums, instead of vice versa.

A brand spanking new Oreck lasted only a few years until that familiar smell filled the house. You know, that burning odor that signals that the belt drive is turning furiously while the belt is not? It is my personal theory that ties, shoelaces and coins left on the floor hate vacuums and conspire to destroy the machines by sliding into the brushes.

Perhaps I should have picked these items up before starting the vacuum.

Since my mechanical ability is roughly that of my ability to speak Albanian, I put the dead Oreck in The Land of Broken Toys, the barn.

Eventually, as the hygiene complaints mounted, I went off to Wal-Mart and bought the cheapest machine I could find. This particular model aggressively picked up all of the detritus off the rug, shot it straight into the air, then returned it to its previous locale. Interesting.

Months passed. You can only imagine the Cobb Manor rugs, which took on the appearance of a rather messy field.

Enter Ms. Blue Eyes who cleans up her house when there is no need to. If she doesn’t vacuum every day, it is every other day. Strange behavior. She usually enters Cobb Manor with a blindfold on.

She suggests that she can provide a vacuum discarded by her parents who clean even more often than she does. Runs in the family, apparently.

This model actually removed the dirt and dust from the floor and took it away. Amazing.

But within a very few short months, the ties, socks and coins have done their work again. The machine ran furiously, lifted the dirt off the rug and shot it straight into the air – just like the Wal-Mart model.

Naturally, that funny smell returned. I returned the offending vacuum with some offhand remark that the machine “doesn’t work worth a damn.”

Blue Eyes knows better, since she had used the machine for a decade or two, with surprisingly good results.

If I am not the laziest man on Earth, I am favored in the Olympic finals. While I sat in front of the television watching one bowl game after another this week, Blue Eyes disappeared into the kitchen.

I was praying that she was making her trademark apple pie, but no.

She had assembled those strange (to me) items called “tools” and had the vacuum upside down and in pieces on the kitchen floor. In this mysterious operation, she had removed the shattered belt, the obvious source of the smell.

In her autopsy report, she disclosed that the vacuum tube had been jammed by paper receipts then clogged by all the succeeding dust and dirt.

Maybe the receipts had been jammed in the machine before I borrowed it, I offered weakly. No good. My name was clearly etched on the offending scrap.

You know how much stress there is during the holidays. At one point during the weekend, I went over for a free breakfast, then complained that Blue Eyes was “getting on my nerves.” Big mistake. She placed her hands on her perfectly formed hips and said “I just shoveled my own driveway, I fixed your vacuum and am making you breakfast. And I am getting on your nerves?”


I thought I might escape further vacuuming since the machine was obviously disabled. No good. Blue Eyes picked up the phone and called the 800 number imprinted on the machine.

Two brand-new belts are in the mail and are expected to arrive at Cobb Manor sometime next week. How long do you think it will be before that belt is torn to pieces, like all of its ancestors, and that familiar smell comes back?

That’s why I got two.


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