Everybody has a story to tell. But Tom’s oldest sister, Phyllis, has a million stories. A million.
Last night, we were at a family wedding reception, and Phil told her vacuum cleaner story. I had heard it once before, but a couple of her sisters hadn’t. Besides, I don’t mind hearing her stories twice because every time Phil re-tells a story, a few details get added. Embellishment, I think you call it. Every re-telling gets a little more interesting.
So here’s Phil’s cautionary tale about vacuum cleaners—whom to trust and whom not to trust.
About three or four years ago, Phil (who is in her early 80s) was talking to a friend of hers about her vacuum cleaner. It’s important to understand that Phil loved her vacuum cleaner. It was a reliable Sears Kenmore that she had been using for years. It was old, but why get a new vacuum cleaner when you already own the world’s best vacuum cleaner?
Her friend, however, had just taken her own vacuum cleaner in to be refurbished with a new carpet-roller brush. “Those brushes get worn out over time,” she had cautioned Phil. So she gave Phil the name of the local vacuum cleaner shop where she had brought her own machine to be refurbished.
Phil, being a conscientious home appliance owner, promptly called the shop and arranged to bring her beloved vacuum cleaner in to be serviced. When she brought it in to the shop, she talked to a young man at the counter who tagged the vacuum cleaner with her name and the date, and told her it should be ready in a couple of days.
So a couple of days later, Phil called the vacuum cleaner shop to check on her machine. The owner of the shop answered the phone. Phil told him who she was and asked if her vacuum cleaner was ready to be picked up.
“Um, just a minute . . . “ he said and put her on hold. What seemed like an awfully long time later, he returned to the phone and said, “Um, ma’am? I can’t seem to find your vacuum cleaner.”
“You can’t find my vacuum cleaner??” Phil asked, her voice rising an octave or two. Remember now, Phil loved her vacuum cleaner. “What do you mean, you can’t find my vacuum cleaner?”
“Actually, it doesn’t seem to be here,” he said, a little defensively.
“And where exactly does a vacuum cleaner disappear to when you can’t find it?” she asked, trying to keep her voice even.
“W-e-ll,” he hesitated, “I’m guessing somebody sold it.”
“Sold my vacuum cleaner??” Phil shouted into the phone. “I love my vacuum cleaner!”
“Things like this happen,” he said. “We sell used vacuum cleaners here, too, you know. And if people don’t come back to claim their vacuum cleaners within a reasonable period of time, we assume they can’t afford to pay for the repairs or don’t want them and just sell them.”
“But I only left it there two days ago!” Phil said, shouting into the receiver.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said matter-of-factly. “Things like that just happen.”
“So you need to buy me a new vacuum cleaner,” Phil said firmly.
“Umm . . . uh, I suppose we could give you store credit and you could pick out a different used vacuum cleaner here,” he said reluctantly.
“But you don’t sell Sears Kenmores,” she wailed. “I loved my Sears Kenmore vacuum cleaner.”
Finally, the man grudgingly agreed to reimburse her the monetary value of her old vacuum cleaner, and she went to Sears and bought a new one. Unfortunately, in addition to costing more than the reimbursement, the new model wasn’t anything like the old trusty vacuum cleaner that she had loved.
“It’s too heavy,” she sighed, shaking her head. “It’s hard to push. It doesn’t pick up the dirt like my old one. I loved my old vacuum cleaner.”
Moral of the story: Don’t get too attached to your vacuum cleaner because it really sucks when something happens to it (old joke, couldn’t help it—sorry).
Note: No one ever found out for sure what happened to Phil’s vacuum. I have visions of it in a vacuum cleaner chop shop somewhere, being dismantled for black market parts.
However, I did mention to Phil that she should find out where the vacuum cleaner shop owner brings his car for an oil change. I suggested that she slip the oil change guy 20 bucks to lose (temporarily, of course) the vacuum cleaner guy’s car after the oil change. Well, you can probably figure out the rest. But here is the important part: Phil needs to convince the garage guy to shrug his shoulders and say, “Things like that just happen.”
I like to start trouble.