Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vacuum Cleaner Battle

When we moved in to our house 2 years ago, I didn't splurge on new towels, a lovely new couch, 600 thread count sheets. No, I spent our hard-earned cash on...a vacuum cleaner. A top of the line Kenmore. A vacuum that seemed to hold the promise of a house with less pet hair and Goldfish crumbs. Up until about 3 weeks ago, my Holy Grail of a vacuum worked great and seemed to justify the absurd amount of money I spent. Then one day it completely stopped working. No suction at all.

Expecting it to need some minor repair, I carted it back to Sears to be sent to the repair center. (I imagined a serious Lego induced clog in the hose.) When I got a call from the repair "consultant" asking me to approve $175 to fix the motor, it is fair to say that I lost the edge. Trying my best not to yell at the man tasked with delivering this bad news, I asked if it was typical for a vacuum that was only two years old to break. Of course, he couldn't say. He just makes phone calls. "So do you want to fix it?" he asked, clearly eager to get off the phone. "I guess," I replied full of venom.

Since the baby was napping, and I was still in the trance of my white hot rage,  I began a customer service odyssey that took about 40 minutes and, you'll be shocked to hear, did not result in a full refund. I will spare the details, but after speaking sternly to no less than three customer service reps, I got one to agree to refund the price of the new motor which took $65 off the final bill. While it was nice to have a slightly smaller total to pay out, I remained enraged.

Soon, though, my rage was replaced by existential angst. What does it say about my life that I have 40 minutes to devote to haranguing customer service reps? The whole time I was on the phone,  I was feeling sort of superior. These people have messed with the wrong customer - I am a stay at home mom with a baby who naps and a lot of education. I will get my money back! But when all was said and done, I was left with a $65 credit and the sneaking suspicion that I have too much time on my hands. Am I really becoming one of those women who are so starved of intellectual stimulation and adult contact, that they will take any outlet for their pent up energy, or in this case ire?

There is no doubt that I often feel that I am not fully utilizing my academic, professional or social skills during  this current chapter of my life. Of course, I know that the job I currently hold, taking care of two kids and the household while also working on professional projects part-time, is in many ways more challenging than being a full time teacher. And it is certainly more valuable to my family, if not to my self esteem. Perhaps the key to happiness for me, in lieu of full time employment, is a steady diet of incompetent customer service reps on whom I can vent.

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