Friday, May 19, 2006

The Vacuum Saga

Last year to celebrate our tax refund, I bought a new vacuum. Actually, I took our old, non-working vaccum into a shop to have it fixed and was accosted by Sid the Vacuum Salesman, who also owns the shop. Sid's Method of Operation is to look at one's old vacuum while tsking and then to tell one regretfully what a piece of worthless junk it is and why one should buy a Riccar vacuum. I have seen him in action with several customers, pushing 30 pound vacuums on little old ladies who came in to get a lightweight floor sweeper to accomodate their arthritis. Sid likes to interrupt; he doesn't like eye contact; and he tries to speak very fast, which is difficult because he stutters. Now, I don't begrudge Sid his stutter at all. What I DO object to is interruption and condescension, both of which Sid does in abundance. (Sometime I shall tell The Tale of the Sewing Machine Repair, too. But I digress and will begin to snarl.) After hearing Sid's snide comments about our old vacuum and his sung praises of the Riccar vacuum he was so determined to sell me, I shook him off and went home to do a little Web research. Lo and behold, the Riccar had excellent, excellent consumer reviews. Somewhat grudgingly, I went back and purchased one.

This year I took the still perfectly performing Riccar in for its free yearly maintenance, as prescribed by the service policy in the owner's manual. Sid wasn't in, but the young lady in the shop said she'd have it ready for me in 30 minutes. I was relieved. Marshfield is an hour's worth of driving (round trip) from our house, and with gas prices, I really wasn't wanting to have to leave it and come back another day. I poked around in the scrapbooking shop next door for 30 minutes, went back to Sid's, picked up the vacuum and returned home. The next time I attempted to use it, I discovered the beater bar no longer worked at all, and the floor/carpeting switch was not only jammed but had a huge gouge. I was not a happy camper.

I returned to the shop asking to talk to Sid and was told he wasn't in. I went home muttering under my breath. I waited a couple of days and called. I was told when he would be in. I returned. He was absent. I returned home again, breathing out fiery and intricate plots for using the beater bar in ways that would most certainly void the warranty. When the inner conflagration died down enough that my nostrils were merely wisping bits of smoke, I called once more and was assured that Sid was always in on Saturdays. I laid my plans accordingly.

You must understand that I am not a person who likes conflict. I don't like being angry with people. I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to damage relationships. I wanted to strangle Sid and his shopgirl with the powercord, yes, but I wanted to do it in a NICE way, mind you, a way that would assure their thinking well of me while they rubbed the scars on their throats, and above all, a way that would insure my being able to continue thinking well of myself. (I am not always a very nice person. Yes, I know this. What I do not understand is why that can be so satisfying.) Knowing I was torn between wanting to be kind and wanting to flay Sid alive with onboard attachments, I prayed on the half hour trip to the shop, prayed that the confrontation would be calm, that I would not lose my temper (because I am unable to speak at ALL when I become extremely angry--I cry, which considerably diminishes one's ability to be intimidating), and that I would come home with a fixed vacuum cleaner and not have to make another trip.

That evening when I returned home, I was able to write the following in my journal.

Today the vacuum saga came to a most satisfactory close. I took the Riccar in and found the shop crowded, Sid "helping" another woman, telling her what was wrong with her vacuum and doing his darnedest to sell her a Riccar. She looked up at me and my vacuum (which had "Riccar" emblazoned across its front), smiled and asked, "Is that a Riccar that you have?"

"Yes it is," I replied quietly.

She walked over to me to look at both my vacuum and the other Riccars on display, over which Sid was still making enthusiastic and encouraging salesman noises.

"And do you like it?"

"I do," I answered, and seeing the heavens open and the perfect opportunity descending from the skies, I took it. "I love this vacuum very much," I said earnestly. "It does a very good job, an excellent job." I let woe cloud my face, dropped my eyes and shook my head regretfully, "The problem I've had is with the service."

There was a beat of dead silence, during which the lady's eyes widened first with concern and then with a glint of amusement as she turned to Sid, her eyebrows raised. "Oh, really?" she asked, still smiling.

Sid was at my side in a moment and had my Riccar upside down against the counter with a screwdriver opening it up before I could finish answering his very courteous questions about what the problem had been. He had it fixed and ready to go in 3 minutes.

I feel a little guilty about the satisfaction and amusement I took (and am continuing to take) from Sid's tight spot there in the shop. Not nearly guilty enough, most likely, though, as it isn't enough to keep me from enjoying it in remembrance. Upon my arrival home and the hearing of the tale, Great Scott said, his grin reminiscent of Alice's Chesire Cat, "You are a wickie, wickie woman!" The fact that this was uttered with obvious admiration did nothing to shame me, I have to admit.

4 comments:

Randy said...

"I do," I answered, and seeing the heavens open and the perfect opportunity descending from the skies, I took it. "I love this vacuum very much," I said earnestly. "It does a very good job, an excellent job." I let woe cloud my face, dropped my eyes and shook my head regretfully, "The problem I've had is with the service."

I laughed out loud reading this. With "woe" no less. ::: still laughing with mucho pride :::: That's awesome! :)

Julie Carter said...

Wickie, wickie, but funny and clever. Brava.

Megan said...

I want to know whether or not "Sid" is an alias. If so, has the man called "Sid" ever sold Rainbow vaccuum cleaners in Monroe, Georgia?

SarahJ said...

very funny story. good for you.