My wife insisted we needed a new vacuum. I insisted it was fine and just needed a little TLC from me.

Needless to say, we’re getting a new vacuum.

We’ve had this vacuum for years, and it is a champ of a machine. For starters, it’s one of those bagless ones. Instead of those dusty old bags, it has a clear canister that, when you are vacuuming, creates this awesome little tornado of dust and dog hair that is actually quite mesmerizing. That said, a quick warning: If you do find yourself staring into the vortex of your vacuum, try and do it when you are alone. Should you ever have to utter the phrase, “The vacuum tornado – it’s so beautiful” to a loved one, you may find yourself in forced confinement.

My wife is a big-time fan of vacuuming. Loves it. Feeds her soul. She will vacuum and then two days later complain that we need to vacuum again. “I can FEEL the dirt!” she says. I cannot feel the dirt. I cannot see the dirt. When I get down on the floor and inspect closely, I can still neither feel nor see the dirt. When we do vacuum after a few days, there may be a light dusting of routine usage from the carpet that shows up in the canister. But to hear my wife tell it, it’s as if we had a dump truck load of dirt removed from our bedroom. Apparently, my wife’s superpower is the ability to feel minuscule amounts of dirt with the bottom of her feet. That should help fight evil geniuses.

So when she told me that the vacuum had stopped working well, I knew this was not going to be one of those issues that she would let fade away. She was going to stay after me and the vacuum until something got done. This wasn’t some issue I could just ignore and hope would take care of itself, such as chronic pain or the kids’ breakfast. This was going to require action on my part.

My first action in vacuum recovery mode was to do what any sensible repairman would do – I plugged it in and started vacuuming, hoping that the Patron Saint of Vacuums had reached down and healed it with a magical touch.

I turned on the vacuum, saw the tornado start up and started vacuuming my son’s room. Clearly, this vacuum was working, and my wife was simply being too needy with her vacuum requirements.

As I looked down on the floor and saw a piece of string, I eased the vacuum over it and pulled it back. And the string was still there. I immediately thought of Rich Hall’s sniglets, and this gem:

Carperpetuation (kar’ pur pet u a shun) – n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

Clearly, this was the reason, not a faulty vacuum. I lifted the string, placed it back down and went over it again. And again. And again. And then I noticed something. The brushes that normally spin at an incredibly high rate of speed, whipping things northward into the tornado? Just sitting there. I flipped the vacuum over and turned it on, just to verify that I was not seeing some optical illusion and that they were not, in fact, spinning. The only thing currently getting things into the vacuum canister was the sheer force of suction from the tornado.

I took off the plate from the vacuum and saw that a belt had come loose. I reattached it and fired up the vacuum. And it spun for a good five seconds before the belt flew off again.

Repeat this about five times. That’s the time we had this text exchange. I tried to slip in my concession that the vacuum was dead.

ME: Hey, what temp for the casserole? Vacuum is a piece of junk. Also, need your grocery list.

HER: I told you.ME: No video, no proof. Grocery list?

HER: Cheese, bread, vacuum cleaner.

I am sure we could get this vacuum cleaner fixed, but it is old and has been fixed before. There comes a time when you just start fresh. Get something new and shiny and ready to take on the next generation of dirty carpets. Something the Patron Saint of Vacuums would endorse, if there were such a thing.

For what it’s worth, I will not be the one picking out the new vacuum. My method of shopping for appliances is to walk into a store, grab the first one I see and head home. My wife does this thing she calls “research,” something I just have no time for. While she is researching, I will put my efforts to more important endeavors, such as explaining to my kids what sniglets are.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he can be reached at