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Swift: Life is not so 'Rosy' with new Roomba

Tammy Swift, columnist

Back in my days as a high school yearbook editor, I remember designing the page for the athletic awards.

The one that always interested me was the "Hardest worker." This person wasn't the team's best player, or maybe even the team's 11th best player. He or she made up for that lack of natural talent through sheer will, grit and determination. This overachiever practiced that extra hour, never slacked while running laps and made it to every game — even if he sat on the bench.

This is exactly how I view my newest home appliance, the Roomba.

The Roomba is not smart. She is not accurate. She is not particularly thorough. Even so, she makes up for her limitations through sheer pluck and determination.

She is the Rudy of the home appliance world.

I have named her Rosie the Roomba, as an unoriginal tribute to "The Jetsons'" infinitely more sophisticated house-cleaning robot, Rosie.

Let me start off by saying that I like Rosie. I like her with the patronizing affection that a Dickensian benefactor might have given to a street urchin.

For one thing, she is equipped with Wi-Fi, which means you can start her remotely from anywhere. She also will politely tell you if she has a.) gotten stuck b.) is full and c.) has sucked up your child's hamster.

She also is quite punctual. Every morning at 9:02, she backs out of her charging dock (I like to think of it as her garage), then bustles to work with tiny lunchbox in hand. She will "vacuum" (a generous use of the term) the first floor of my condo three times, then return to her little house to binge-watch "Transformers" movies.

And her personality? It's very agreeable. Although I initially thought she would scare my dog, she has fit right in — humming along like a pleasant little beetle. She's even somewhat comforting. She buzzes about in her conscientious, Little Roomba That Could state, while I pack the dishwasher or cook dinner. In fact, I would even recommend her to someone who seeks a companion animal who doesn't bark, poop or shed.

But here's the deal. She's not very good at what she does. Although I would never say this to her face — or more accurately, her Cyclops eye — she sucks (and not in the way that a vacuum should).

Reportedly, Rosie and her tribe are outfitted with a robotic intelligence system and various infrared sensors that help them determine room size and even dirtier areas.

But I am concerned that Rosie skipped out of her robotic intelligence system class so she could smoke cigarettes with her hip new friends, Echo and Alexa.

She wanders around the living room in Mr. Magoo fashion, bumping into coffee tables, lurching like a drunk driver and repeatedly trying to climb the same chair. Every. Single. Day.

Now Rosie is very good at vacuuming under the couch, and even found a 2014 summons for an unpaid parking ticket under there. (This is particularly impressive when you consider that I moved to a whole new house in 2015. Perhaps she also has a "time travel" feature.)

She has picked up dog chews, money, Legos, jewelry, vitamins and a marble. One day, she drove into the bathroom, where the toilet paper was hanging too low to the ground. She proceeded to eat it, winding it around and around her rollers until I received a "Danger, Will Robinson!" alert.

Now I like Rosie, and I want her to succeed. So, good codependent that I am, I have found myself hovering over this Hoover. I micromanage, lifting chairs, pulling away rugs and picking up gum wrappers to throw them directly in her line of fire.

So much for effortless vacuuming. I have now resorted to a life as Rosie's Wingman.

I just wish this "smart appliance" had a few more smarts — especially after last week.

Rosie was diligently doing her thing and buzzing around the first floor for her scheduled rounds. Suddenly, she started to make a horrible muffled sound. We ran into the living room to find a gruesome scene.

Thanks to the subzero temperatures, Kita had refused to go outside all week. Nature finally took its course, resulting in an explosion of vomit — and worse — all over the living room.

Never one to shirk her duties, Rosie tried to clean it up, but only managed to smear the awful stuff all over the floor. She was plugged up with a hellacious cocktail of half-digested dog food, hair and other substances too disgusting to examine.

Since that day, Rosie has been in dry dock and is possibly facing early retirement.

Oh, and I've changed her name.

Meet Rosie, the Ruinba.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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