As students transition into adulthood, the seemingly never-ending list of responsibilities can be exhausting. Those moving into their own apartments are tasked with finding furniture, cleaning supplies, spices, frozen popsicle trays and more. But one item stood out to me; I realized I was missing a vacuum cleaner. After moving into a new place with carpet, which I’ve never had before, I decided to hunt the town for the best-priced vacuum I could find—and what better day to do so than Black Friday?
Holiday shoppers, some with their family members still stuffed and sleepy from the tryptophan—an amino acid in turkey that causes drowsiness—in their Thanksgiving meal, lined up for doorbuster prices at shops around town, including the Mall at University Town Center (UTC), Kohl’s and Target. Before I made it there, I got the big thing that had been on my mind for weeks out of the way. While I was doing the obligatory lying-on-my-mothers-couch-with-my-cat after our cranberry-sauce infused Thanksgiving meal, I wondered to myself how I was going to handle this new step in my life.
“Vacuum cleaners are like wedding rings to adult life,” I whispered to myself. My cat pressed her paw into my stomach and half looked at me, as cats do best. “No going back now.”
I thought to myself, who could brave this task with me? Who has the drive, stamina and emotional intelligence to keep me on track during this pivotal day in my life? I ran through a list of friends, but knew all along it would be my mother. I proposed the idea to her in the morning, half-hoping to unload the burden of taxes and health insurance back on to her, and she gracefully accepted my offer.
At Lowe’s Home Improvement store, a place I frequent once every five years to accompany my mom in her own home improvement adventures, I skimmed the aisles until my eyes finally met the magic words: vacuum cleaners. The words stared at me and I stared back at the words. I nudged my mom: “There it is,” I said. I held up a weak hand pointing to the dimly lit aisle, as if I was pointing to the Mirkwood Forest from “The Hobbit.”
She said, “What? I can’t hear you,” but seemed to have intuitively understood what was going on as she rushed ahead of me. I took a deep breath and put one foot forward into my early 20s.
Cordless vacuums, upright vacuums, canister vacuums, robotic speak-to-you-and-cook-you-dinner vacuums. Dyson, Shark, Bissell, Black and Decker; I was in the mecca of floor cleaners. Prices ranged from $400 for the iRobot Roomba 960 Robotic Vacuum—on sale from $700—to the Dyson V7 Trigger Pro 21.6-Volt Cordless Handheld Vacuum for $150, down from $250, that looks more like a handheld blender than a dirt-sucker. Like any shopping experience, I looked but did not invest my heart as I walked past the shiney and elaborate appliances towards the functional and better-priced equipment.
Skimming the prices for the cheapest, intending to work my way up from there, I found a testament to the people I love so dearly in this world. I was not the first one with this idea. Many had come before me, enticed by the nicely-lit displays of pricey vacuums, in favor of the two cheapest models Lowe’s had in stock.
It was a toss-up between the Bissell PowerSwift Compact Bagless Upright Vacuum for $74.98 and the Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum for $59.99. Luckily, the universe made the decision for me, as there was only one left from the two models, the Powerswift. As the thought passed through my mind to perhaps buy the latter online, which quickly sent me into a 21st-century frenzy of price-checking on all of the online platforms, my mom basically decided for me: we would buy the Powerswift. As I proudly picked up the heavy rectangular box and plopped it into our shopping cart, I knew I was one step closer to marriage, diapers and reaping the benefits of my Roth IRA account.
With adult life comes responsibility, as well as the freedom to choose who you are and what vacuum comes home with you at the end of the day. Life isn’t all wisdom teeth extractions and car payments; it’s also sailing in Thailand and wandering the markets of Salamanca, and sometimes, but not often, life is personified in buying your first vacuum. Time to clean up the dirt.