Kirby Vacuums

You’ve all had that knock on the door, haven’t you?  You open it up, and there’s a well dressed young man.  His shirt is blue, so he’s not a missionary.  His tie isn’t red, so it’s not Amway.

He’s the Kirby Vacuum Man.

And because your spotty dotty carpets are driving you crazy and your Bissell ProHeat, despite it’s awesomeness, is temporarily out of commission, you waffle during his sales pitch.  You hesitate a split second too long, and Kirby senses an opening.  “We have a quota,” he says.  “My guys can’t go home until they’ve done at least three demonstrations and we’ve only done two.”

There’s no way you’ll get our traffic path from the front door to the refrigerator clean, you say.  I’ve got 8 kids and half the neighborhood over here everyday.

Kirby assures that his fancy pants vacuum will indeed clean the carpet, paint the garages, change lightbulbs, and entertain the kids.

And since nothing, not even high pressure sales tactics for expensive household appliance, is simple at my house, here’s how it went.

All of the kids lined up on the couch and watched Kirby line up an impressive array of shiny accessories.  They also chatted non-stop, regaling our guest with stories of the guinea pig and an impromptu art display.

Kirby is amiable and engages them.  Big mistake.  Several of the children will now not stop talking for hours. When one gets fatigued, another gamely jumps in with a list of Bionicles he possesses until the toddler can rally with a long description of the plot of Little Einsteins.

Kirby continues his pitch.  He swaps out his coffee filter like pads, showing us just exactly how much dust has accumulated on the ceiling.  Since I’ve never, ever dusted or cleaned the ceiling, I’m not surprised.

Kirby asks me how I dust, and husband dear actually laughs out loud.  Oh dear.

Should I laugh too, or act insulted?  I don’t dust often.  The piles of clutter cut down on the need to dust the furniture, after all, and since the side table is constantly piled with a never ending rotation of coupons to be cut and mail to be opened, the wood never actually gets dirty.

More fancy attachments and I’m presented with the grot that has accumulated between my carpet and the baseboard.  What is the appropriate response when confronted with one’s own filthiness?  I resort to a slight smile and a nod.

The television is vacuumed, and so is the flat screen monitor.  More dirt, another nod and smile.  There’s quite an impressive stack of dirty little circles stacking up.  I draw a confession out of Kirby.  He has to use up 130 before he can call his manager and get the shampoo to clean our carpets.  Management hoards the soap until they are satisfied that every surface has been sucked and every accessory has been thoroughly demonstrated and explained.

The kids finish dinner and get restless. Kirby has a couple of kids, and knows what they’ll like.  He attaches the upholstery cleaner that can also paint a fence with water based stain and makes a mountain of foam out of the tiny bit of shampoo he’s smuggled in.

I wonder how annoying it would be to be dragging your vacuum cleaner all over the lawn trying to get even coverage and if the neighbors would laugh as you paint the fence with a vacuum cleaner.  The children go wild dancing, singing, and jumping in the foam.  Kirby, being unused to the average decibel level in our home, is temporarily deaf.

However, he recovers his hearing just in time to hear the scream.

The older boys were soon bored with foam, and  had gone outside to ride their bikes.  Mr P convinced the neighbor kids to set up their skateboard ramps, got all Evil Kneivel, and now he can’t move his wrist.

Kirby is pro, and won’t let a little thing like a medical emergency, crying newborn, and singing preschoolers throw him off his game. He keeps up the chatter and husband dear indulges him, because Kirby also used to be a mechanic and our van is still being repaired.  They’re talking shop over dirty coffee filters.

I’m trying to decide if we need to go to the emergency room or not.  Mr P’s wrist isn’t swollen, but he’s having trouble moving it and won’t go outside to play with his friends.  Therefore, I determine, this must be a major injury.

Kirby begins demonstrating how much crud is under the carpet on the stair landing while I call my sister to see if she can give me a ride.

The baby is still crying, but husband dear can’t help with that.  He’d been repairing the lawn mower when Kirby showed up, and smells like grass, gas, and oil.  He’s not had a chance to change out of his work clothes and neither of us wants the baby to get a faceful of gas residue.

Kirby offers to vacuum our mattress to show us how many dead skin cells we’re sleeping in every single night.  I decline.  Silly man, he wouldn’t even be able to find the bed underneath the 5 loads of laundry waiting to be folded.

Meanwhile, BlueCross reports that the nearest Urgent Care is several miles away.  I debate which ER to stop in at.  My sister arrives in record time and helpfully calls a couple, to find the least busiest one.  The ER nurse tells us to call the pediatrician.

I had no idea pediatricians had after hours on call doctors.  Learn something new everyday!  I have to hide in the garage in order to hear the voice on the other end of the phone.  I wonder if I could make hiding in the garage a regular event.  Maybe I could find a nice armchair on Freecycle?

Mr P’s doctor thinks he’ll be fine overnight, since there’s no obvious deformity, and tells me to make him an appointment in the morning to have things checked out.

Kirby has moved on to the area rug.  It’s past bedtime, and the children are antsy.  The baby is crying.  Mr X is going crazy with singing, but since he doesn’t talk much, it’s mostly slightly tuneful gibberish.  Mr P is whining because I won’t let him watch TV, Kirby’s manager shows up with the shampoo, and the baby is still crying.  I’m in the kitchen talking to my sister and there are 13 people fussing, singing, chatting, and vacuuming in my house.

And, when all was said and done, Kirby couldn’t get the stains out of the carpet.  Our ProHeat handles traffic patterns with aplomb, or at least as much plomb as a carpet cleaner can muster.  The Kirby?  Not so much.

Can’t wait to see what happens if the Jehovah’s Witnesses ever hit our neighborhood.

I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Charlotte (Matilda) July 22, 2009, 12:51 pm

    “At least I didn’t ask him a medical question (believe me, I was about to).”

    I was already laughing when I read this from your sister and lost it completely! Hilarious!!!

  • Rick in Denver February 1, 2010, 11:23 pm

    Wow, awesome and accurate, we’re catching up you know!!!!

  • Nicki Woo January 8, 2011, 11:09 am

    I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

    Yikes! What is up with the Kirby people? I tell you what, after I let them into my house that one time, I don’t think I’ll do it again.

    But say if I did. . . .

    I’d be sure to give them a time limit. Who am I to fight with someone who wants to clean my house?


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Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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