December 30, 2019

Normally we’re not technophiles. We have laptops but we have no cell phones, no microwave, no “smart” devices of any kind. But I bought Jenine a robot vacuum cleaner for Christmas. Despite the fact that it was a decidedly less than romantic gift, she loves it. She calls it Sparky. That ‘s the good news. The bad news is it’s creeping me out.

Sparky’s micro-chipped innards send it buzzing around the house on a hunt for dirt and dog hair from our two mutts, literally mapping the floorplan in its quest to boldly go where no vacuum (at least no self-propelled vacuum) has gone before. The dogs view him (note pronoun used – a case of technomorphizing) with suspicion and stay well out of his path, not an easy task as he scurries around the house, often seemingly at random, trying to cope with Jenine’s penchant for rearranging the furniture.

He seeks to enter every nook and cranny and to devour every dust bunny under the furniture. He is so insistently meticulous about baseboards that I expect to start finding the odd one missing, carried off to Sparky’s secret lair somewhere. Sometimes the little bugger sneaks up on me when I’m reading and nudges my foot. “Excuse me, I need to get by.” I have to sit and read while Sparky works, if only to stop myself from following him around and talking to him. “Don’t go in there, stupid, you’ll get stuck.”

It’s always a relief when he returns to his docking station and plugs himself in to recharge. At least I don’t have to feed and water him, though it would be nice if I could let him outside to empty himself discreetly in a far corner of the yard.

I hate to say it, but Sparky is one of the family now.