One day when my mother told me to clean my room, as she often did when I was little, I retorted, “Why should I clean my room? It’s just going to get dirty again.” I thought I was so clever, heading off her demands for cleaning once and for all. Alas, my three or four-year-old smarts, it turned out, would be no match for her. “OK, fine,” she said, unfazed, standing in my bedroom doorway. “Don’t come to dinner, then, because you’ll just get hungry again.” Score: Mom, one. Carah, zero. Sigh.
Decades later, the battle of the brooms and buckets rages on without her. This morning, I just cleaned and polished my grimy laptop lid for the first time ever, although it’s been needing it for, oh, years probably. Now the faux Mac-style metallic lid on my Asus laptop is shining like the top of the Chrysler building once more. It feels so good, it looks so nice. It always does.
Cleaning always feels good after you do it. But the joy of my newly-restored patina was short-lived.
My spirits quickly began to sink with the awareness that in just days or weeks my lid will once again begin to accumulate the grime of microscopic human protoplasm off my very fingers. It’s just a temporary fix.
And so to me, cleaning seems like a mostly pointless exercise in little more than futility. And so what do I have? A car that needs to be washed. Rugs that need to be vacuumed, a bathroom sink that needs a good scrubbing. But when it comes to carpet, for instance, I just can’t seem to justify it. Yeah, it’s a little dirty, but the numbers just don’t add up. I am all too aware of how soon the carpet will dirty again in my feline-inhabited home. That calculus surely mitigates against pulling out that heavy, old-style Royal vacuum and moving equally heavy things around— which then only have to be moved back again. Waiting at the end, of course, is the grand finale: emptying a dusty, clotted dark-grey mass of unrecognizable concentrated filth from a squirrelly bag. Inevitably, half of that stuff ends up on my clothes. I recently got rid of that vacuum, in the hopes that a lighter, newer model would make vacuuming fun and appealing.
In the meantime, don’t hold your breath. There’s precious little chance I’ll be emptying one of those newfangled, clear plastic removable vacuum compartments anytime soon. What I want to know is, who invented dirt? And can I talk to God about it? Would he/she/it consider any other options?
Frankly, it’s just poor design, and it’s high time someone spoke truth to power about it. Getting rid of dirt is an endless, unwinnable battle that consumes an obscene amount of human time, energy and effort, not to mention natural resources. Just think of how much water goes to waste globally on a daily basis in the name of cleaning. Maybe if people stopped spending so much time with their laundry, dish soap, brooms, mops, sponges and vacuums, collectively, we might free up enough energy to actually solve real world problems. Once we get the air and the water clean, then we can deal with the kitchen floor. Wonder what my mother would say to that, huh. Well, gotta go. Time for dinner.