The Phifer vacuum

A couple of weekends ago my husband Daniel and I removed the last of his parents’ worldly belongings out of the small storage unit where they had been kept for three and half years. It took all of one hour, involved multiple trips to the dumpster across the parking lot, and all fit in our minivan. Forget antiques and memorabilia and photo albums. The storage unit consisted almost exclusively of large plastic bins filled with CDs, old tools, and random pieces of electronic equipment.

It was representative of Gary, Daniel’s Dad, if not of Jo, his mother. And it reminded me of a story….dscn0335

Daniel’s childhood home included an unfinished basement, with the stairs to it branching off the ground floor’s main hallway. The vacuum cleaner lived in this basement along with the usual accomplices: washer, dryer, drill press, shelves and cabinets and worktables of assorted tools, power tools, and spare parts to untold numbers of appliances.

Jo was weary of hauling said vacuum cleaner (which she complained didn’t work that great anyway) up and down the basement stairs, and finally Gary had had enough of the moaning about it.

Now, Gary was an outstanding engineer of just about any type. But the man had no eye or thought for aesthetics. So here was his solution:

Go to Sears. Buy an industrial wet-dry “shop” vac. Clear three square feet out of the hall coat closet and ensconce said shop vac in it. Run the cord under the hall rug, under the door to the basement, plug it into an orange extension cord, and wrap the extension cord around the stair banister, all the way down to an outlet in the basement. Last, but not least, distribute industrial quality headphones to each member of the family.

To handle the industrial-sized roar of the shop vac.

“Gary!! This thing is TOO LOUD!!”

“Well, you said you wanted a vacuum that works.”

“But it’s too LOUD!!! And it takes up the WHOLE CLOSET!!”

“Well, you said you were tired of carrying it up and down the stairs. Now you don’t have to.”

Well what could anybody say to this?

Never mind that now there’s a lump in the hall rug. Or that the basement door won’t fully shut. Or that in reaching for the stair banister you wrap your hands around a power cord. Or that you had to wear headphones when the vacuum cleaner was running – no matter who was pushing it. Or that Hunter the cat, who fearlessly stalked possums and raccoons, ran fleeing in feline terror when the Beast was fetched from the coat closet. Or that the vacuum is so powerful all loose textiles within a six-foot radius must be secured before flipping the “on” button.

The important thing was, the thing worked, and nobody had to haul it up or down any stairs.

Y’all. This was life in Gary Phifer’s household.

You ask for a solution, and you’re likely to get it. But you’ll get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.

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Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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