The Day The Carpet Cleaner Almost Won

I was preparing for my husband’s return from deployment. You know that “clean house feeling” when you return home after vacation? I wanted that and more for his return after months away (even though I knew that was low on his priorities).

So I swept the floors and wiped the surfaces, I dusted and organized, and then I geared up to shampoo the carpet, which we had discussed numerous times. We purchased a carpet cleaner in our last home and it sat in a closet since we moved (over 5 years ago!). So I decided it was long past due and how nice it would be for him to come home to freshly cleaned carpets! 

I drag most of the things out of the living room to provide a nice big space for cleaning. I move everything out of the closet to get to the carpet cleaner stored in the very back and watch a refresher video to remember how to operate it. The excitement is building as I load up the water reservoir and fill up the soap dispenser. I remember the satisfaction of the emptying container after container of dirty water and feeling the freshness the following day! It was going to be good!

I set and lock the reservoir back into place… and I hear before I see the water sloshing out the bottom. I remove the reservoir and look everywhere trying to see what possibly went wrong. More videos were watched, more attempts made, and more puddles created all over the kitchen floor. These were not small puddles, but quart sized amounts of slippery, soapy mixture. I verified that everything was placed correctly. I checked every rubber seal for defect. The reservoir was not leaking when removed from the cleaner, so there was not a crack in the plastic. Every trouble shooting technique proved a failure. It’s possible it was damaged in the move. It’s possible the years of idleness just wore down some of the connecting points. It’s possible it’s just a horribly made, which even the company admitted for older models.

My hip was jostled when I slipped on the water. I used up an entire roll and a half of paper towels, because in the moment I didn’t consider grabbing actual towels. And my carpet remained grubby and dirty.

I was angry. I was frustrated. I was embarrassed, even though no one else was around. I sprayed febreeze all over the carpet since everything was off anyways and at least the stinky feet smell wouldn’t be as hostile. But I wanted to grab the cleaner and throw it against the wall. The satisfaction I craved would be found in the smash, I imagined.

Instead, I wiped up the mess and reminded myself that I had not yet mopped the kitchen floor. I moved the cleaner with each attempt so each puddle would at least cover new territory. I told myself that we still got our money’s worth out of the cleaner at our previous house so it wasn’t a complete waste. Then I smiled a little imagining my boys’ wonder when they discovered their belongings scattered around the downstairs instead of the living room where they left them.

Ten minutes later and my heart rate was returning to normal. This was not a crisis, this was merely a little hiccup in my plans for the evening. This was not devastating, this was only a pivot from one type of floor cleaning to another. This was not worth my anxiety and anguish, this was an opportunity to pause and remember that my husband isn’t anticipating returning home to our house, but to our family.

That was the day that the carpet cleaner almost won. That was the day that that I almost allowed a minor inconvenience to disrupt my excitement and joy. That was the day I told myself that it wasn’t worth it to rehearse this experience and fume over the results. It was not worth my time or my attention.

Sometimes things don’t go how we had hoped. Sometimes our plans don’t work out. But road blocks are merely detours. The dirty carpet can wait. 

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