Earlier this afternoon, as I observed the work that my cleaning lady did, I noticed how she left patterns in the vacuumed carpet. They looked so good, so symmetrical that I didn’t even want to walk on my own carpet. I’ve felt that feeling before. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Roomba.
How I first came across this moment? In April 2010, as I was readying for my return to the United States after 3 years of residency in Tokyo, I presented my co-best friend Latisha with a gift: my iRobot Roomba 530. I had used it to keep my place clean and I didn’t think I’d have much need for it in the shadow of the nation’s capital as all of the apartments I researched beforehand didn’t have carpet. Knowing that Latisha was somewhat envious of it, I gifted it to her before I left. Fast forward 2 months later, I’m in Waldorf, Maryland in a swanky apartment that has carpet everywhere except in the bathroom and in the kitchen. Just like that, I started feeling the loss of the Roomba 530. It got worse when the strands of pet dander from all the animals that lived on my floor latched onto my combat boots and camouflaged into the carpet…not to mention that my apartment collected dust at an alarming rate. After some research, I decided on the iRobot Roomba 610 Professional Series. I liked its sleek look and the fact that it came with that high capacity sweeper bin. Unlike the 530 I gave Latisha, this one came with 2 virtual lighthouses that allowed me to set boundaries more convenient to my apartment’s configuration. It had a better bumper guard. The biggest take away was that I could schedule it for cleaning. It did a great job on my carpets and even on my kitchen and bathroom floors when I needed to police those areas. It was very good around obstructions. The Roomba 530 was kind of “dumb” in that aspect as it often bumped up against obstructions…even left a few marks on some stuff. But the 610 would slow down within 2 inches and navigate its way around or along the obstruction. It handled corners really well too…thoroughly cleaning spots that even the extensions on regular vacuum cleaners couldn’t get. It was a quiet fellow, too. It vacuumed my bedroom while I slept and didn’t even disturb me a bit. I definitely got my money’s worth during my stay in the National Capital Region. When I relocated to Seoul in June 2012, I moved into a place that didn’t have any carpet whatsoever so there was no need to take the Roomba with me. It sat in storage back in Maryland until I returned back to the United States and moved into my current residence 1 ½ years ago. It still did a good job but I think that whole year of it just sitting in storage did something funky to it because the performance wasn’t top-level as it was previously. I decided to retire it in October of last year. It’s still in my closet. Maybe one day, I’ll take it apart and perform restorative surgery and sell it.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, the acquisition of the Roomba 610 was in line with the personality I wanted to set forth for my residence. I had the IKEA-type furniture, the stainless steel appliances, the all-electric oven range. I had the LCD HDTV, the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. Adding the then-newest Roomba on the market contributed to my niche for having the latest and greatest.
What it means to me now? Today, I kinda miss having it around. Sometimes, I’d sit back and think on how it used to do its thing and the consistency in how it went about cleaning. It was a great product and I’ll always appreciate what it did for me.