I say that with utmost respect for what they do, assuming they are utilized in the proper fashion, but there have been numerous occasions where they simply did not do what they were supposed to. And did you know that while they may suck up dirt, they can also blow it around? I found that out the hard way.
My first discovery of the dysfunction of the vacuum was on the occasion where 20 pounds of rice toppled onto the floor. Initially I tried the broom but found there was so much of it that I just wasn’t getting anywhere. So, I decided to try the vacuum. Needless to say, all it did was push the rice around in circles and eventually just clogged the machine up. So much for that. Back to Square 1 with the broom and dust pan.
One would have thought that I learned my lesson regarding small grains the first time around, but when I dumped an entire bag of quinoa on the floor, I decided to try the vacuum again. I have only one thing to say about that. Quinoa in its raw form is a lot like Styrofoam. It flies everywhere, sticks to everything and is so small you can’t see it half the time. In this particular case, the dust pan wasn’t helping me much either, so I had to resort to the mop. Once the little grains were wet, they stuck to the floor and then I could wipe them up with a damp cloth. This is a very major inconvenience when one is attempting to get dinner on the table by a specific time. I was only 15 minutes late that evening. I guess it could have been worse.
With that in mind, you would have suspected I would have learned the lesson from the second time around, but no, third time is the charm. The culprit? Sugar. I curse sugar. I was baking scones one morning for breakfast and somehow knocked the bag over. Before I noticed the waterfall of sugar granules slowly filling into a pool on the floor, about half the bag had dumped out. This time expletives were uttered, and I quickly ran for — you guessed it — the vacuum. Jeff, who is the usual duster and vacuum-er in the house, happened to be out for the morning, so I decided to tackle it myself. I poised the vacuum over the pool of sugar and turned it on.
What happened next was like something out of a horror movie made for chefs. The sugar blew everywhere. When I say everywhere, I don’t just mean all over the floor. It was on every counter top, in the burners on the stove, in every cabinet, EVERYWHERE. The more I tried to suck up the sugar, the more it blew around until finally there was sugar in the butler’s pantry, the basement, the entryway and making its way into the dining room. I literally stopped and plopped myself down on the floor practically in tears. I didn’t know how to stop the spreading and settle the dust.
Right about that time Jeff walked in the door and started laughing at me uncontrollably. He found my sugar debacle quite amusing. I didn’t think it was particularly funny, so I told him to clean it up. We ended up mopping again and wiping the wet sugar up and off every surface of the kitchen. I think the floor was sticky for about a week, even with repeated mopping.
So, like I say, vacuums suck. Use them wisely. For if they are used incorrectly, you may find yourself with a bigger mess on your hands than the one you were trying to clean up.
Monika Sudakov is the chef and innkeeper at the Chestnut Street Inn in Sheffield. She can be reached at email@example.com.