A week after our wedding, I called Alex at the office to let him know that there was a strange package at our front door. It was a big box from iRobot. I thought he had ordered another gadget.
Alex loves gadgets. Since our wedding less than three weeks ago, my house has filled with gadgets. There’s a Roku to wirelessly stream content from our computers to the TV. I now have a food processor and a Dyson vacuum. We still have the gadgets he/I acquired for me while we were dating: HDTVs, an ipad, an iPhone, a DVD player, and a MacBook. He has moved my house from the 90s to the 2010s in less than two years. I mean, this guy controls the temperature and humidity of the Yarns of Italy warehouse from anywhere in the world with a Nest, which learns his behaviors and adjusts the climate to suit his tastes and current weather conditions.
So when a box arrived from iRobot, I was pretty sure Alex was behind it. But Alex knew nothing about it. He came home. We opened it. It was a wedding gift from our friends Davide and Tatiana. It was a robot vacuum. Specifically, it was a Roomba 770. We left it in the box for a few days as we considered how the thing inside the box was going to effect our lives.
Last night, I opened the box. I pulled out the Roomba. I set up the base and turned on the robot. The little guy ran to his base and docked while Emily (the boxer) barked and Mr. Fu (the cat) sprinted down the hall to hide under the bed for an hour. While Alex ran the Dyson (kinda like cleaning the house so the housekeeper can come), the neighbor rang the doorbell, and the dog freaked out again. By 8 PM, Roomba was charged and ready to clean.
This model was made with people like me in mind: pet owners with allergies. It has HEPA filters, a larger bin, and better handling of pet hair than previous models. The problem is getting the pets to accept its presence and lack of interest in interacting with them. Emily’s a little farther along than Fu in this regard. When she failed to find a rear to sniff, she gave up her attempts to stage a dominance confrontation with the little robot. But then, I have to wonder a bit as it tends to bump into Emily quite often. For the first hour, she was pretty sure it was trying to take her toy, and we had to keep telling her to let it be. Right before it went to dock for the night, it did take her toy and move it across the room. I’ve never seen a dog look aghast before.
Mr. Fu decided to come back in the house as Roomba was making a second round (we cleaned the bin three times last night after having run the Dyson over the whole house!), and proceeded to walk backwards out the door. I was chatting with my mom on the phone as it happened, and all she could hear was me gasping and laughing at the cat’s reaction.
I am amazed at how much cleaning the little Roomba has already done. The pet jury is still out, but there’s a lot less dog and cat hair in my carpet, so they’re going to have to learn to deal. Roomba is especially obsessed with the cat’s box, and has spent a lot of time frantically rolling over and over the linoleum around it. I can’t wait until it fires up and goes to clean the bathroom while the cat’s in the box.
We decided the little Robot needs a name, so we call him “Mastro Lindo,” which is Mr. Clean in Italian. Ironically, it’s hard not to think of this robot that cleans up after pets as another pet. It’s kinda like having one of those fish that cleans the fish tank. You know it’s there to clean, but it still gets a name.
So thank you, Davide and Tatiana. You’ve given us not just the means to a cleaner, less allergenic house, but also hours and hours of entertainment.