[lit-ideas] Re: Paper, Plastic, the Vacuum

  • From: david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 12:09:17 -0800

Now and then I catch a glimpse of where marketing wants to take us.
 Perhaps you'll recall the time you first realized that they were giving
away computer printers so that they could sell you small and very expensive
packages of ink?  Something similar seems to be afoot in the world of
vacuums.  Yes, those things with which we clean house.  In the bad old
days, of course, one hung a carpet on the washing line and beat it with a
beating thing.  Or one used what Eddie Izzard calls a hod-d-d-de, which was
like sending the Home Guard out on patrol--pretty useless but you had the
feeling you were doing something.  Vacuums, or as we once knew them,
"Hoovers," were sturdy beasts that needed very little maintenance.  Cost a
bit in the first place, weighed about the same as a wheelbarrow, but the
bright side was that no one ever needed a gym membership.
"How do you keep so fit, m'dear?"
"I carry the vacuum up and down stairs."
They still sell such sturdy beasts here, but even these have paper bags
inside them now, ones which have to be thrown away when full.  We get
plastic bags from the grocery store which are used once and thrown away and
yet they give us paper bags for the interior of the vacuum.  Surely genius
could invent a re-useable plastic bag for a vacuum?

What started this ramble?  Discovering that the cost per paper bag I've
been paying--five dollars--is not the top end of the scale.  Some vacuums
now require eight dollar bags.  And the bagless vacuums you can buy for a
hundred dollars?  According to our repair shop, these require sixty dollars
per year of maintenance.

Where to find succor in such a world?  At the library checkout, surely.
 Which is where I sometimes imagine an inspection service.  "Excuse me a
moment, sir, may I see your receipt?  Now what have we here?  'Missing
measures: modern poetry and the revolt against meter'... 'The End of the
Poem...'  'Sea of Poppies...' 'The Sword and the Scimitar...' 'Singapore
Encounter...'  Not a bestseller among your choices.  Would you step this
way for a moment.  Marketing wants a word."

Carry on.

David Ritchie,
Portland (not Beaverton)

Other related posts: