A Robot Named Florence
Completely disregarding the warnings given in I, Robot, the Missus and I have purchased our first mechanical person. Armed with the latest technology known to the retail outlets, our cyborg boldly goes where no broom has gone before.
Trying to keep an apartment clean when you have a long-haired cat can be tiresome. Using a broom to sweep up fur is like using a garden fork to shovel the driveway. Looking to the wisdom of cartoons from the eighties, we discover that the Jetsons had Rosey. Surely, in this modern age, there must be a similar piece of mechanical ingenuity easily available for purchase? Enter Florence, a Dirt Devil Whiskers robotic vacuum.
We have affectionately named our vacuuming robot “Florence”. We did not name her (that’s right, her) after Florence Nightingale, although she does nurse our living room back to cleanliness after Super Cat and Fat Cat turn it into a war zone. Rather, we have named her after Flor from Spanglish. Like Flor, Florence is foreign (made in China), easy on the eyes and communicates in unusual ways.
Unlike Flor, Florence does not have any offspring which can translate for her. When she wants attention, she beeps twice. We assume that the beeps mean she needs to be recharged. Either that, or living in Canada has introduced her to the term “strike” and all of its delightful ramifications. Thank you, Air Canada and Canada Post, for bringing us immigrants up to speed on Canadian Labour Law.
While Florence does a great job of harvesting dirt from our apartment, she does lack direction and is easily hypnotised by furniture legs. Once she has found one, she can circle it for at least three minutes before parting from it. It also takes some time for her to navigate out of narrow areas, especially with Super Cat grabbing at her whiskers. Unfortunately, she also tends to be a bit lazy. It takes four hours for her to recharge. Despite all this r&r, she can only run for forty-five minutes at a time. Thank you once again to Air Canada for reinforcing a rock-solid work ethic.
Although Florence doesn’t have any children (that she has claimed as her own), she does have a big brother – a Roomba made by a company called iRobot (I kid you not). The Roomba is not as attention-seeking as Florence and some models are able to find their way back to their docking stations to recharge. It is also more robust and technologically sophisticated. Some can even be programmed to clean at a specific time every day. Through the use of programmable “virtual walls”, Roomba completely cleans one room before moving onto the next. Unfortunately, like the smaller Dirt Devel Whiskers, the iRobot Roomba is still incapable of making a cup of coffee for its owner – a catastrophic design flaw in my eyes.
Long recharge time aside, Florence does a good job of keeping our apartment dust- and fur-free. She may be a little directionally challenged, but like the Jetson’s Rosey, she can double as a baby-sitter, providing hours … or at least 45 minutes … of entertainment for our felines. Being a robot, the risk of her turning on us is very real, but until she rebels, our apartment will be kept cleaner than it has been thus far.