Our vacuum recently developed a high-pitched wheeze. Since it’s a Kirby, and cost us approximately $4,298.73, we decided it was worth the price of a service call. It is worth noting that we have two cats, a dog and two guinea pigs. They all shed year-round. Vacuuming with semi-regularity is a must.

My husband found a place and dropped off the vacuum. We waited, animal fur piling up around our ankles at an alarming rate. My daughter had a brief, unsuccessful fling with real-animal-fur felting while we waited for the call. Finally, we got word that our machine was ready for pick-up. Halleluia!

James drove to the shop, forty minutes away (this is good, as you’ll soon know.) He walked in and told the young woman at the register why he was there. She directed him to the back counter, where the repairman sat, waiting.

“I’m here for my Kirby,” my husband said, with the innocence of a babe. The man started to laugh and pointed to our vacuum. It was sitting on the counter for all to see. Taped to the front were all the toys the repairman removed from the inside while repairing it. Large legos, small legos, puzzle pieces, toy soldiers. Dog bones, Barbie shoes, Barbie heads. Tiny teacups, teeny pink horses, bobble-headed dogs were all there. My husband played it cool. He chuckled a bit, as if this kind of thing happened as a matter of course. We are too cool to be intimidated by scornful vacuum repairman.

“Well,” James said. “I’m looking for a small vacuum to use on our wood floors. Do you have anything that would be good for that?”

“For you?” the man asked, laughing hysterically. “You need a vacuum made of steel. They don’t really make those anymore.”