I have a Roomba. Yeah, I know, they’re silly, don’t do a very good job, and you have to pretty much childproof your entire house as if you had a two year old when you have one of these things because it will try to eat electrical cords, cell phone chargers, throw rugs, get stuck under furniture and generally try to destroy itself if you allow it to. It also is horrible at cleaning up cat barf. It is also brain dead because it can’t find it’s own charging dock and just sits there complaining when it’s battery runs low.
Still, I got the dopey thing, so I use it. When I remember I have it, anyway.
So, the other day I’d tracked grass in all over the kitchen, and I go ‘ooo, Rudolph can do this for me!’.
I call him Rudolph. The Roomba, I mean. Rudolph the Roomba. Hey, don’t look at me, his parents named him, not me.
So I fire up Rudy and send him on his merry way, and about 10 minutes later he stops dead and starts yelling about something. I come running in expecting to find him wedged under the refrigerator, or maybe he tried to suck up one of the cats and they beat him up or something.
But no, his little side brush thingie fell off. It’s that little arm like brush that sticks out the side to get along edges and into corners and stuff. Screw fell out and he tried eating his own brush, the idiot. Just what I need, a robot that is fond of self-canabalism, right?
Okay, so I pry the brush out of his gizzard, and then… Okay, where’s the screw? It’s a teeny, tiny, almost microscopic little screw, judging from the size of the hole, and it’s nowhere to be found. I looked around on the floor, even dumped out Rudy’s little dirt catcher thing. Not there. I figure he must have already digested it. Or one of the cats ate it.
No problem, I’ll get another one. Off to the trusty Internet to go look for Roomba parts. This isn’t an uncommon problem. Someone must sell these screws, right?
Uh, well, no. Seems not. You can get replacement brushes, which seems a bit silly because the brush part never wears out. Usually they get wrecked because it falls off and the Roomba eats it. I don’t need a brush. And most of the brushes for sale seem to be conspicuously missing the screw. Brushes you can get all over. They’re cheap. They don’t come with screws, as hoards of complaining product reviewers proclaim in their one star reviews because they didn’t need the damn brush, they just needed the damned screw. And even the brushes that are advertised as coming with the screw, don’t.
I scoured around and finally found out place that offered the brush and the screw. They specifically mentioned, twice, that they included it. So I ordered it. Whopping $6.95 or something like that. It arrives two days later. It comes in an unpadded envelope labeled “replacement battery”. Folded in half. Ripped, shoved into another envelope, also ripped, with a mailing label in Sri Lanka or somewhere. That, in turn, is shoved into a third envelope, which actually has my name on it.
And, of course, it doesn’t have the screw.
I dig some more and try to find the actual size of the screw to see if I can buy some locally. After almost half an hour of Google searches I finally find a forum somewhere, where someone actually found this precious secret known only to the Zen Roomba Masters of Lower Passaic New Jersey. This is one tiny, tiny screw. No one around here has it. I finally resort to the internet again. I find someone else who had the same problem got his hot little hands on a whole box of the damned screws, and out of the kindness of his heart, is sharing them with his fellow Roomba owners. For $5.
So, I know people. Really, I do. I don’t just sit here complaining about my cats all day long. I do have a life, people. Sort of.
So I start making some calls. I have a friend who works for a military contractor. Seriously. They make battleships or submarines or bomb proof attack trucks or giant robots or something. He’s always really vague about what they actually make there,
So I tell him I’m looking for this tiny, tiny screw, tell him the size. Hell, I can get you those, he tells me. I’ll get you a box of ‘em. I’m like, well, I’m not going to have the NSA or the CIA or the FBI or the ARRP or one of them alphabet agencies showing up on my door or something. He says don’t be an ass, we get ‘em from Home Depot. Six bucks for a box of ‘em.
A meeting is set up in a dark parking lot. Money exchanges hands… Well, okay, it was a Starbucks and he was on his lunch break, so maybe that part isn’t really accurate.
So, the damned screw fits! Wow! Rudy is back on the job again!
But now I’m sitting here looking at a box with 4,999 teeny, teeny screws…