No Strings Attached

Every morning, Mrs. G. runs over the floors with a broom, leaving dusty islands of household debris all over the place with the fair warning to me not to step in them. The dog doesn't care, as he will often stroll right through the carefully gathered piles as if aiming for them.

I suppose that's one of the benefits of wood floors over carpet-the dust and schmutz of daily household traffic is visible, so the floors get cleaned more often. That doesn't mean we don't vacuum. The area rugs get a once over every so often, and the extension tube comes in handy to suck up the errant coffee grounds that have spilled out of the grinder onto the countertop.

Yesterday afternoon, my wife was doing some vacuuming and was gradually running out of cord. As the cord became a low-level tightrope, I could see what was about to happen. Mrs. G. was in the throes of cleaning and didn't notice this until the cord snapped out of the outlet, draining the life out of the machine. 'That's it then,' she said. The official end of vacuuming is often when she runs out of cord. Any debris beyond that point will have to wait another day.cleanview_deluxe_multisurface_vacuum_2412_long_power_cord

I was watching this from the kitchen table, and thought about that as she looped the thick lifeline back onto the pegs on the vacuum cleaner before rolling it into the utility closet.

Cords. Why do we still have them? Isn't this the twenty-first century?

A few months ago, Apple announced that their new phone, the iPhone Every Prime Number To Infinity, would not have a hole for a headphone jack. People lost their minds, although many people (including me) said it's about time. In about ten years, they'll subliminally date movie flashbacks with people using corded headphones, and we'll all look at that the same as we look at images of men wearing suits while leaning into an RCA radio to listen to a ballgame. 'Oh how quaint. Look at that. Headphone cords. It must be 2012!'

We gave up on corded telephones years ago, and many of my carpentry tools, while still corded, have a battery-powered counterpart. Computer keyboards are cordless and their companion mice have shed their tails as well, as have every other electronic doodad. Remote controls, by definition cordless, have made the buttons on TVs practically, and in most cases literally, obsolete. We are a mobile society that doesn't want a tether of any kind, in any form.

For the most part, ours is a cord-free household, and the last major holdovers from our corded realm were phased out this year. I have arthritis in my hands, which made grabbing and pulling starter cords difficult. My wife could never understand why these machines still had starter cords anyway, but as long as I had to pull them, she didn't mind. Her wake-up call came while trying to start our ornery push mower, and the recoil cord ferociously snapped back into the mower and nearly ripped her shoulder out of the socket. She came in the house frustrated and in pain. Within an hour, we were talking with a John Deere salesperson about a lawn tractor with a keyed ignition.img_2664_hdr

'This is amazing,' I said while perched up on the bright yellow seat. 'I have no idea why we didn't do this sooner.' The paperwork was completed as Mrs. G. took the machine for a test drive around the parking lot. Both of us left the tractor showroom smiling, she wearing her free John Deere baseball cap and me anxious to casually mow some lawn.

Our snowblower also has an electric start, which makes the drudgery of clearing the driveway a little brighter. Push a button and the big machine fires right up. Why on earth should anyone have to pull cords to bring an engine to life in the 2000s? Has anyone ordered a car with a crank start since 1913? 'Yeah, I'll take that new Corolla, but only if I can get it with manual steering and a crank start because I prefer things to be as difficult as possible.'

After the lawnmower transition, I started to look at the other yard tools hanging in the garage. Is there a person reading this who hasn't wanted to throw a string trimmer into the backside of a garbage truck at least once? I believe I hold the personal string trimmer javelin distance record of thirty-five feet after a hot afternoon spent trying to start the thing, giving up, and launching it through the sky into the very grass I was trying to trim. I likely would have tolerated that for a little while longer if not for my hand issue, but my wife flat out refused to even try to start it. We bought a heavy-duty (as in not a toy) string trimmer with a battery pack that starts the machine with the push of a button. It does a fine job trimming around everything we need to groom on an acre of land and does so on a single charge with juice to spare. Mrs. G. has found that she will use it because it's fun.

This fall, I bought a leaf blower with a battery, and in true ex-contractor form, it's heavy duty. I brought it home, unpacked it, put herothe battery in the charger and had a cup of coffee. Twenty minutes later, it was fully charged and ripped through fall's most colorful leaves without dripping fuel all over my pants. Mrs. G. goes out and uses it without hesitation. Our driveway has never been cleaner. The other day, we tag-teamed the leaves as she blew them out into the yard while I mulched them with the lawn tractor. No cords required, and all that's left are the confetti-sized bits of leaves.

Which brings me back to the vacuum cleaner. I secretly hope that it strangles itself on its own cord and dies so I can justify it being replaced with something cordless, but until that fateful day, the house will have to be vacuumed twenty-five feet at a time. That said, there is a part of me that thinks it would work out great to open all the windows and use the new leaf blower on the floors.

Batten down the knick-knacks, this is going to be epic.

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© 2016 Rick Garvia - 11/19/16


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