Death By Vacuum Cleaner

I was nearly killed by my vacuum cleaner today. In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess that this wasn’t my first potentially lethal encounter with a household appliance. Upon occasion, I have been known to stick a fork in the toaster, and my gas logs and I are barely on speaking terms. I also had a close call with a professional carpet-cleaning machine a few years back (which inspired a chapter called “The Big Red Cleaning Machine” in my book Southern Women Aging Gracefully). It had me trapped against my car for about half an hour. Dicey.

What do such run-ins say about me? Nothing good. How exciting could my life possibly be if I have near-death experiences–not by bungee jumping in Belize or soaring over the Grand Canyon–but by vacuuming?

Here’s the story: I was vacuuming the stairs to my second floor, backing my way down, manhandling the vacuum awkwardly down one stair at a time. I had the cord wrapped around my neck so that I wouldn’t accidently suck it up in the vacuum. I’ve done it this way a thousand times before WITHOUT INCIDENT, I’d like to point out right here, so . . . don’t start with me.

You can guess what happened next. I accidentally knocked the vacuum cleaner over. It immediately tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. I rocked back and forth for a few seconds on the stair tread; there was just enough time for me to feel smug for not falling in the wake of the vacuum, when I was suddenly jerked off my feet as the vacuum cord necklace I was wearing tightened into a noose worthy of the Wild West. I reacted as any panicked vacuumer would react—I grabbed the cord and started yanking, trying to prevent a suburban garroting. It was immediately obvious that my only chance for survival was to follow the vacuum free fall. I needed some slack, and I needed it bad.

As I allowed myself to be tugged like a misbehaving dog on a leash to the first floor, I had time to reflect upon how truly distasteful my obituary would be: “A local writer and mother of three was strangled in her home today by her vacuum cleaner.” Every single person at my funeral would be fighting a serious case of the giggles. Who could blame them? My teenagers would likely be too embarrassed to attend the service.In general, I am not a prideful person. I’m known for my self-deprecating humor, in fact. I have to admit, however:  death by vacuum cleaner—that’s not the way I want to go. Even I can do better than that.


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67 responses to “Death By Vacuum Cleaner

  1. First, I would not have giggled at your funeral! Second, I can’t believe you wrapped the cord around your neck; what were you thinking?!! Third, I’m extremely happy that I’m not picking flowers out of my yard to bring to your funeral, because you know I would. They are all wilted and heat oppressed so your timing would not have been good!!!
    And finally, this really is too funny . . . my mind’s eye was replaying the events as I read your description. I am truly glad you lived to share the humor of it!!!! Note to Melinda: try vacuuming up the stairs next time and let the cord fall effortlessly behind you. Just a thought . . .

  2. This was hilarious but we are happy your are ok to write about it!!

  3. Fellow author popping in to say hi from SITS….I’d love to feature you on my blog with an interview!

  4. Embarrassingly enough, you are not alone, been there done that. I really don’t care to vacuum the stairs!

    Happy SITS Day!

  5. This was very entertaining!! You are a great writer 🙂 Visiting from SITS, I’m going to go check out some more of your posts!!

  6. I knew That Man loved me when he bought me a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Now I’m wondering if there was a possible ulterior motive after reading this…ha! Happy SITS day ~ you’re one of my dream cross country road trip companions, along with Celia Rivenbark and Paula Deen…can you imagine the antics? Pretty sure I’d laugh so hard I’d cry down my leg!

  7. I hate to say that I can relate to this story. But there are many things in my home that are waiting to strangle me, trip me, break one of my bones, etc. 😦 The coffee table is my worst enemy.

    Thanks for the early morning laugh, Melinda. 🙂

  8. This is precisely why I don’t clean. . . if it doesn’t kill you, it certainly can maim! Stopping by from SITS.

  9. This was too funny. There is no winning with the cord, even if you don’t wrap it around your neck then you are stepping all over it as you go down the stairs. I came over to visit you from SITS.

  10. I’m glad it didn’t kill you. Those vacuum cleaners can be vicious.

    Congratulations on your SITS day. I hope it’s a fun day for you.

  11. Ha, this made me giggle. I’m so glad you survived!

    Happy SITS Day to you!!

  12. You are a funny lady indeed, you just earned a reader for life! Happy SITS day!
    Tara Denny

  13. HAPPY SITS DAY! It’s always great to find great authors/bloggers! Looking forward to reading more!

  14. Happy SITS day! I have a vivid image of you clawing your way up as you are dragged inexorably down down down the stairs, your eyes wild as you struggle against the cord. Hmmm. Interesting midday Monday experience, that’s for sure!!

  15. I shall now be approaching my vacuum cleaner with fear and trepidation!! Congrats on your SITS day!!!

  16. HAHAhahaha… popping over from SITS. Happy day! I’m glad you did not, in fact, die by vacuum cleaner. I’d be very sad not to have more of your funnies to read;).

  17. Congrats on being featured blogger today!

  18. Visiting from SITS! I love your sense of humor and writing style! 🙂

  19. Ha! This is totally something that would happen to me too!

    Happy SITS Day!

  20. Great post! I’m wondering what kind of trouble you could get into that robot vacuum, Roomba!

    PS Happy SITS Day!

  21. Ohmigawsh. I could soooo see this happening to me!!

    Ofcourse, my worst thought of my personal death was “death by pitch problems” after a director friend told me I HAD pitch problems (after years of being a human pitch pipe for other singers I was sort of… miffed.) Anyway – be careful the next time you do chores or perhaps… you could use this near miss as an excuse to NOT do chores for a bit! :~)

  22. Congrats on your SITS day!

  23. I knew I hated vacuums for a reason. Now to convince my significant other that I can’t vacuum because it might kill me. LOL!

    Happy SITS Day!

  24. John Wettermark

    Balancing on a stair, holding a vacuum cleaner, with the cord around your neck? Not really safe, I mean, you could seriously hurt yourself doing that;)

  25. Happy SITS day! This story here, the potential obit tale of death by vacuum cord, sounds exactly like the sort of clipping Carl Hiaasen would keep for one of his crazy Florida novels. Which in turn, since I adore his hilarious fictions, makes me want to investigate your books for the hilarity therein because the hilarity in this situation originates with you, after all. Yeah, I’m wordy.

  26. HA! I am so glad that I have finally found someone else that has the same dilemma that I do with household appliances. My vacuum cleaner attempted to kill me too. Is it possible we own the same vacuum? Dyson by chance? Thanks for giving me a good laugh today! I needed to laugh at myself and find a buddy in mishaps.

  27. That sounds horrible! I hope your ok, that could’ve been a mess. I will rethink before doing this again haha. Your blog is great, very great feature.

  28. Glad to know I’m not the only one to wrestle with household appliances. Cheeky things they are! Just another reason to delegate!

  29. I just discovered you from SITS and can’t wait to read more. Very very funny. I agree with kimbellies – delegate those hazardess tasks!

  30. Happy SITS Day!! Melinda I enjoyed your story!! It was amusing, laughter is good medicine!! I’m glad you’re okay!

  31. OMG, that is terrible lol. I’m just glad you’re o.k.

    Happy SITS Day by the way!

  32. Scary-funny! I get into these kinds of dangerous mishaps (that later turn into slapstick stories) too. Love this site/your style and will be returning. And I must read the books! (I’m pretty sure I’ve heard/read your name somewhere before….)

  33. I love the thinking ahead about what would happen at the funeral. That’s probably what saved your life. Thanks for the humor.

  34. Happy SITS day to you Melinda! I’m so glad I’ve found your blog. I’m a little late on this since yesterday was a holiday in Canada, but I’m really enjoying the post-holiday weekend reading. I often have these sorts of misadventures and I ALWAYS think about how embarrassing my obit would be. Love your writing!

  35. Sarah

    Haha! Glad you survived to write about it. 🙂

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