I do have attachments to some of my personal belongings. I know, weird. I’m not what I’d call materialistic but some stuff is kind of sentimental to me, but none of those things have the bond I have with this guy.
Everyone, meet my longtime friend Kirby:
Yes, my strange attachment is to my vacuum cleaner – a 1995 model year Kirby G4. My great-grandmother bought him new back in the day. I remember like yesterday the in-home demonstration the gentleman did using our old vacuum cleaner and then this beast showing how much off-the-shelf vacuum cleaners leave behind. It was very impressive. I remember being absolutely fascinated with it as a kid, even to the point I did the vacuuming around the house because I was just so enamored with Kirby. Even my parents found it weird how fascinated I was with a goddamned vacuum cleaner – but of course now we know why I had such an interest.
When my great-grandmother passed away, the vacuum kind of became mine. Mom and dad got other vacuums along the way (mostly bagless because they didn’t want to deal with changing bags), but when I vacuumed I always insisted on using Kirby. The others just weren’t the same, nor do they have anywhere close to as much suction. A Kirby will out-suck just about anything else out there.
When I moved out for college and grad school, I took Kirby with me as he wasn’t getting used by my parents at all by that point. I needed a vacuum cleaner for my place anyway, and if they let me have Kirby that was just icing on the cake. It cost me nothing to take and I wouldn’t have any other vacuum if given my choice.
He came back with me and into storage after grad school when I was living with mom and dad again. I took him with me to Dallas, where he got used in my apartment there, but then went back into storage again after returning to Abilene once again, where he would remain for a year and three quarters, until Laina and I went by the locker this past Sunday on our Abilene visit and recovered him to bring back with me to San Antonio.
Last night I fitted a new bag and fired him up for the first time since February of 2018. Like long-lost friends, we picked right back up where we left off. It was like yesterday. He sprung back to life the second I plugged him in and he’s running as great as ever, save for needing a new self-propelled transmission.
So here we are in November 2019, 24 years and change after it became part of my life. It’s been with me through ups and downs, and we grieved the passing of my beloved great-grandmother together, but he’s still never missed a beat and is reliable as ever.
Sure, I’ve replaced many drive belts along the way, along with a few brush rolls and even a fan impeller, always opting to do the work myself instead of paying for labor (the same will be true when I am in a spot to replace the transmission). Me being how I am (autistic) I’ve always loved to tinker with stuff (even before I knew why), and Kirby was no exception. To me it just feels more personal when I do it myself. Now there will come a point I can’t and I have to send it back to the manufacturer for a full rebuild, but that’s years and probably even decades in the future as these things are built to last.
Anyway, funny story about the fan impeller – I was vacuuming out my car and sucked a huge rock into the vacuum, and almost immediately heard a loud “crunch” and a bunch of pinging. I immediately shut the vacuum off and took the hose off to reveal that the impeller had shattered into about 4 pieces. Of course I wasn’t going to pay someone to replace it, so I just went to the parts store to get a new impeller and put in the sweat equity myself.
Little did I know the G4 was the last model that featured a metal fan impeller – the G5 on up have kevlar impellers which I imagine were developed for that reason. Needless to say Kirby is now retrofitted with the kevlar impeller and we have not had a repeat and I’ve sucked a lot of sizable shit up into him since.
Alas, that’s the story of my strange attachment, 24 years in the making. I almost feel like Rob McGroarty talking about my beloved Kirby vacuum (and kudos to whoever gets the reference), but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Kirby and I do share a special bond that just gets sweeter as time goes on, and you’re free to judge or ridicule if you wish because I know it’s real to me.