December 16, 2012

Trapped! By my past.

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:56 am by dgcombs

It isn't often that something from your youth circles around with the force of a cyclone and hits you square in the face. It was like the real-life version of the Charles Harness Novel, Ring of Ritornel. In the far future time, two religions compete with each other. Alea (the name comes either from Latin meaning "dice" or from Hebrew meaning "exalted one") teaches that the universe is simply a matter of chance. A roll of the dice. Or a whim of the the exalted one. In either case, your own personal actions mean nothing. It's all chance. Ritornel (the name comes from an instrumental interlude that recurs after each vocal stanza) teaches that the universe will not end, but simply recycle. In this case, your own personal actions mean nothing. It's just a cycle. Was this chance or cycle?

In October, Linda and I went to Illinois along with my brothers to move my parents into their new house. After a 30 year long stint in Arkansas, they were ready to be home. Although home is really more like Kansas/Oklahoma. But nobody lives there and my brother lives in Urbana. So we were unpacking and putting stuff away when my mom discovered an "old, left over vacuum cleaner."

"Ooff!" said, my mom. "That's heavy! Anyone need a vacuum cleaner?"
"Ours is wearing out." said my wife.
"It's yours!" replied my mom.

And before you know it, I was looking for enough space in the car to store not just a vacuum cleaner but a Kirby Vacuum cleaner and a box with all its attachments.


Of course, if you've never had the pleasure of some polite, young fellow knocking at your door one the evening to tell you how marvelous the Kirby vacuum cleaner (with its die-cast aluminium body) is then you probably don't know just how fabulous they are!

During my High School days, my dad gently prodded me to find a job. Any job. Just get a job! So after days and days of pounding the pavement and visiting every shop on the Main Street, I finally found a sign that said, "Help Wanted." I was elated. I stopped in and discovered the Kirby Vacuum cleaner. All I basically had to do was deliver them. Oh, and give a little half-hour speech. After just a few days of training, I was an official door-to-door Kirby salesman.

Here was the deal. They had someone call ahead. They scheduled an appointment for you. They promised the salesman would deliver a free set of steak knives "just for listening." Then you got the name and address and off you would go. Deliver the steak knives. Deliver the speech. Deliver the Kirby. Make tons of money. Only it didn't really work like that. There are a lot of ways to snag the steak knives without actually buying a Kirby vacuum cleaner. My favorite was the guy who answered the door. He saw who I was and slammed the door in my face. I yelled, "Hey, don't you want the steak knives?" The door opened a crack and a disembodied hand snatched away the little box of knives.

The best visit I had was the family that collected trilobites. After a few minutes of talking vacuum cleaning, the father said, "that's boring, have you ever seen a fossilized trilobite?" Off we went into a discussion on trilobites that I could never get back on track. Nice family. They got their steak knives.

At the end of my career as a vacuum cleaner salesman, I had sold one Kirby. I had given out quite a few packs of steak knives. And for my efforts, I got nearly one hundred dollars. Just enough to pay for the gas I had used. Apparently, the salesmen were charged for each set of steak knives they gave away. If I had known that, I would have kept a set.

The Kirby in question is relatively old. It was purchased in 1998. It cost over one thousand dollars. And it appears to have been used very little. It does a really good job.

But, ooff! Is it heavy!

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