I need to state first that I love my Roomba unconditionally. I love every object I own unconditionally. I have anthropomorphized them all and assigned to each of them a bit of sadness, making them irresistible to my affection. The Roomba is easiest to anthropomorphize because it moves around on its own, and because its app requested that I give it a name when I first received it. (Naming the Roomba made me uncomfortable, so I named it “Roomba.”) It’s hard not to feel sadness and gratitude watching it scoot around my apartment floor. And yet, I hate it. Oh, it makes me so mad. Ohhh, I hate that little Roomba so much. My fucking Roomba, you absolute asshole that I hate. My small love. I hate you.
There have been two recent occasions on which friends have mentioned plans to buy a Roomba of their own. “DON’T DO IT!” I told them. “MY ROOMBA MAKES ME SO MAD!” Following my protestations they asked if it did not adequately clean up animal hair, which is the reason why they each wanted to purchase one. It is also the reason why I purchased mine. And, in fact, it does adequately clean up animal hair. Its little diaper is always filled to the brim with my dog’s hair, which he sheds en masse at every moment of the day. And yet, I hate the Roomba.
Here is what the Roomba does. I put him in the kitchen to clean the kitchen. Then, immediately, he turns around and leaves the kitchen. I put him in the living room to clean the living room. Then, immediately, he drives to my electronics’ cords and rolls over them, forcing them to intertwine with his innards. Every time I put him in my bedroom he drives directly onto the base of my fan, and his robot woman voice calls out to me: “UNEVEN GROUND.” Yes, you drove directly onto the uneven ground. This is what you decided. Why did you do that? There is far more ground in my bedroom that is even, and yet here you are stuck again on the uneven ground. You make me very mad.
Often I will put the Roomba directly in front of detritus, like lining up a bowling ball in very close range of pins, and watch him travel everywhere except where the detritus is, like lining up a sentient bowling ball in very close range of pins and watching the bowling ball be an asshole.
Attempting to get the Roomba to clean the floor is similar to what I imagine it is like attempting to get a child to do anything. Actually — do you remember the scene in Wet Hot American Summer where Paul Rudd cleans up his dish? Here it is:
This is my Roomba. I have taken to sweeping the floor, blocking off the exits, and then dropping the Roomba right in front of the piles of dirt and hair, trapping him with my feet in order to get him to suck the mess into his diaper. Why do I even use the Roomba at that point? The answer is because the Roomba was $300. I’m going to use the Roomba. I hate the Roomba.
For so long, I wanted a Roomba. I imagined my pet hair-free life with my Roomba. I tweeted at iRobot and asked them if I could have a free Roomba, on account of my being a journalist; they did not ever even respond, let alone provide me with a free Roomba. Then I decided to buy a Roomba for myself as a Christmas gift. A terrible gift, even though it is actually fine. It does clean up the pet hair. The diaper is always full. And of course I love him and I always will. But I do hate him.
I hate the Roomba so much.