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People and their Roombas

By Christine Simmonds | Jan 13, 2020
Photo by: Reuben Mahar

The Roomba robot vacuum cleaner is designed to make lives easier. Sometimes it does, but many people agree owning a Roomba can be like having “an annoying pet.”

Many people give their Roomba a name. Some names are similar to the brand name, like Roomie or Roombie. Michelle Winchenbach of Waldoboro named her's Rosie after the robot maid in "The Jetsons."

Dawn Burns of Waldoboro named hers, “the maid.” Shawn Buterbaugh of Rockland named his Lisa for the Lisa Computer.

Other names are more whimsical or silly. One woman from Friendship calls her's Janice. Sarah Berry of Portland named her's Maude.

Bethany Blastow of Waldoboro named her's Stella, so she, “had a real reason to yell STELLA!”

Reuben Mahar of Waldoboro named his two Roombas, “Jarvis (a reference to the "Iron Man" franchise) and GladOS (a reference to the Valve game "Portal").”

Talking to the Roomba is common. Yelling and cursing at the vacuum appears to be the most frequent occurrence. Jennifer Kyle of Pembroke, Mass. reported she would ask hers, “What are you doing?!” and yell, “No, no, no, don’t go there!”

Berry said she talks to hers, “only when she gets stuck somewhere. Or after she's gotten stuck and we're trying to find her.”

Mahar said, “I often question the wisdom of my Roombas. I mostly ask Jarvis how the hallway runner constitutes an impassable object.”

Buterbaugh shared that while he doesn’t talk to his vacuum, he will talk about it by name, such as, “Lisa is coming today, let me move some chairs around,” or, “Lisa is finished cleaning.”

Actual pets seem to sometimes hold a grudge against the robot vacuum. Bobbie McGraw of Newcastle said that her dogs, “sometimes give it dirty looks.” Burns had a 16-year-old dachshund who would chase her Roomba.

Buterbaugh has a dog who, “freaks out when she hears the initial beeping,” and then, “just follows [Lisa] around and freaks out.” Berry has a friend whose dog, “hates it,” but her own animals have no problems with the vacuum.

Of course, the Roomba does not always work as it is supposed to. McGraw had to clean dog feces out of hers, “a couple of times,” but said, “I was fortunate that it didn’t drag it all over the house first.”

Winchenbach found hers, “stuck under a buffet in [the] kitchen when I went home on lunch.”

Elizabeth F. of Nashua, N.H. said that her Roomba, “can sometimes get lost.” One time when this happened, it came on in the middle of the night and started talking. “It woke me up out of a dead sleep and I searched the house because I couldn’t understand who was trying to talk to me.”

Blastow said that her son Daniel tries to ride their Roomba, and, “has to say goodnight to Stella… every day and night before nap and bedtime.”

Everyone has a different routine around using their Roomba. Some people set it to vacuum while they are at work or out running errands due to the noise level, or so that the cleaning happens while they are not home.

Others make sure to be home while it is running. Sarah Simmonds of Falmouth reported that she, “would just rather be home while the vacuum is working to make sure things are going smoothly.”

Many people said they rearrange the house so the Roomba can easily get around, and block off spaces where they know it will get stuck.

Just as many people will clean before a cleaning service arrives, people admitted they pick up the house for their Roomba. Winchenbach said she has to, “make sure all the dog toys are picked up first,” before running the vacuum, and that she has to, “sweep the chunks around the wood stove to avoid clogging.”

McGraw said she also cleans up the dog toys before running her Roomba. Mahar said he and his wife pick up objects on the floor like, “left socks, strings [and] cat toys,” or else the Roomba, “will eat them and then text you at work, crying for help.”

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Sam Charlton | Jan 13, 2020 13:22

And this is news?

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