Our vacuum died last August. Now, lest you think that I haven't vacuumed the house since that time let me relieve your fears: I have. In fact, I have been using a decent replacement called My Husband's Shop Vac. Using a Shop Vac on your carpeted home really isn't that bad: instead of a measly little bag to fill and empty repeatedly, you have a five-gallon drum that only needs attention about every six months. It also has a very long hose with several attachment nozzles so you can really get into corners and under couches. Sadly, that's about where it ends.
On the down side, hauling the Shop Vac up and down stairs its much heavier than a regular vacuum (read: five gallons of dirt); the cord is only six feet long so you constantly have to unplug and replug; you really have to scrape an area to pick up the offending floor muck; and you have to bend over the entire time you are using it, which is about five times longer than use of a standard upright vacuum.
On this note, my husband agreed that it was probably best to retire the Shop Vac to the garage and buy something decent for the home (especially since it was time to empty said Shop Vac and we couldn't find the replacement bags). And what is the best time to get a new vacuum? Your wife's birthday! That way you don't have to buy her a real gift!!
Therefore I found myself (sans children) on a 'date' with my husband for my birthday last Saturday. We went to a restaurant that didn't have any gluten-free desserts so instead I watched him eat an entire piece of giant ice cream pie all by himself (happy birthday to me...). We then went to Office Max where he looked for printer ink and a new shredder for work while I was accosted by store employees ("Are you looking for pens? Writing instruments are my specialty...") and picked out a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, whose birthday is in August (but it was a tape dispenser shaped like a red high-heeled shoe; it was perfect for her!). We then spent an hour at Stark Street Vacuum in Clackamas learning the differences between various models and finally settling on another Simplicity (we don't like change). The 'date' concluded with a visit to my brother-in-law's Feed Store in Molalla where we admired the new flooring and chatted with the employees and customers that we knew before we went to pick up the kids.
I was thinking about how familiar the day felt and for a very good reason: the day we spent on Saturday was almost identical to the dates we had for four years before we married. Be still my heart.
But I was ecstatic to get a new vacuum! The salesman who helped us, Jake, was very informative and friendly and went over the pros and cons of several different brands and models, demonstrating them (and letting me vacuum weird things off the carpets -- because I don't get to do enough of that at home). He even put the vacuum together for us, gave us a $350 discount, and dealt very calmly with an uncouth, boorish, foul-language flinging man who couldn't wait five minutes to buy vacuum bags. Husband (whose career is all about customer service) was so impressed with this salesman that he wanted to bring his entire office staff down to the store for a demonstration of what to do/what not to do when dealing with customers.
Good customer service people: you are noticed and appreciated!!
There is a great quote in Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ stating that if you see any good example, make yourself follow it. In this particular post, I would apply that towards the vacuum salesman more than the date.