Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I, Roomba

The patter of little feet I am considering adding to my home do not belong to a mammal. I have been thinking about bringing a Roomba into my selfish little life.

I need your advice on this, not because I am worried what Chiffarobe will think (we have been together some time now, and he seems secure in his position as head of the household) but because Roomba is an Insane Robot, with Haunted Child rising -- this one can fight Cancer, for crying out loud!!

I have heard that people become emotionally attached to their Roomba, and some genius entrepreneur has marketed little Mr Potato Head like stickers so one can personalize.

Here's all I want -- to vaccum under the furniture. And not carry the upright up the stairs anymore. Smurph describes my home as a lighthouse. When I am carrying things from level to level, I am more inclined to say "ladder."

It is a standard bachelor-girl townhome, meaning each room is just as small as rooms I lived in on Beacon Hill, but if you stack them on top of each other, it feels like space. And it does feel like space, too -- miles of it when I am "Hoovering."

The British say Hoovering, which makes the Dyson guy seem even funnier when you think about that.
Sorry James, I don't think "Dysoning" is going to catch on.

Now, according to Robot Law, the Roomba is not permitted to attack me in my sleep (or otherwise).

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Through inaction. Think about that. If I choke on my own dust, or trip over it in its station (dogbed), is Roomba to blame?

A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. In the world of product design, I call this a "good requirement." When I say it, I mean it more as a comment on the product designer than the rule itself. I just say "Good for you for finding the loophole before Roomba did."

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. This one brings it all home by finding the human loophole too. It also means that if things come to blows between Roomba and me, it will never end. We'll just tustle around the house like Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner until the place falls down around ears. Then, after a beat, a rustling in the rubble. Roomba emerges, and removes the dust away from my face. I take a deep breath, and we regard each other as the camera irises out.

By the way, "I, Roomba," is such an obvious title, I considered not using it. But then I remembered this isn't college. This is also the reason I don't have a conclusion to this essay.

Your Roomba advice is greatly appreciated.


  1. I heart my Roomba. I am in love. I know one of the purposes of a roomba is to either "set it and forget it" with the scheduler version as I have - or to multitask. However...I become enthralled and entoxicated by watching the robot clean my carpets and floors. "Oh he missed that spot - will he come back to it? Oh good Robot!" He almost fell down my stairs last week due to his "spot clean" feature but I saved him. Liam...not so lucky.

    I kid! Email me if you have any questions!

  2. I love the idea of a Roomba but it costs so durn much I had to check out what my good friend consumer reports says about it. I decided not to get one as a result:

    I have become very pragmatic in my old age...

  3. hilarious! now I can't decide either. I would love a nice friendly robot vacuum in my life...but what if it gets jealous of my cat or baby? what if I hear it crying at night (roomba not baby). Also if I have to pick up all of my crap off the floor first, well then roomba is certainly not a timesaver in my world.


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