The instructions were pretty straight forward: insert hose “A” into slot “B”, then place collection unit as shown and click into place.

It only took 20 minutes, and I didn’t have any parts left over.

“Done!” I said, plugging the cord into the outlet. “Let’s give it a try.”

“Do you want to go first?” Carla said.

“Nope, go ahead,” I said, pointing out the on-off switch.

Carla pressed the switch and made a couple of quick swipes across the rug. The inside of the collection unit swirled with an amalgam of dust and cat hair that formed itself into a clump the size of a golf ball.

A few more swipes and it was the size of a baseball.

Carla pressed the power switch and the living room again grew quiet. The baseball stopped swirling and settled to the bottom of the clear acrylic tube.

“Oh, wow!” I said. “That is AWESOME!”

Shelter-in-place long enough and you pretty much get excited about anything.

“What was that sound?” Steven asked, padding into the living room in bare feet.

“We got a new vacuum cleaner,” Carla said.

“Does it work pretty good?”

It was the set-up I was hoping for: “It sucks!” I said.

Carla and Steven ignored me.

“Look at this!” I said, holding up the collection unit. “And that’s just from the rug!”

“When was the last time we vacuumed?” Steven asked.

“Well, I kinda remember vacuuming on a Saturday morning in ’07, or was it ’08?”

Carla and Steven ignored me. Tough crowd.

Carla moved to a second area rug; by the time she was done, the vacuum held a gray-brown blob the size of our cat. I was tempted to take a picture of the mess and put it on Facebook. I’ve seen worse stuff on Facebook, and no doubt there are others out there who are just as bored as I am.

I emptied the container into a garbage bag and clicked it back into place.

“You can really feel it pulling against the rug,” Carla said. “A lot harder than the old vacuum. I think I’ll go vacuum the bedroom.”

“When you’re done can I use it to vacuum my room?” Steven asked.

“Then I think I’ll do the basement,” I added.

“Have we ever vacuumed the basement?” Steven asked.

“No,” I said. “But we’ve only been here since ’99.”

Ignored. Imagine that.

I never thought I’d see a day when we were standing in line to get time with the vacuum cleaner, but it filled one day of shelter-in-place and we got clean floors in the process.

Now if we could just get that enthused about a new dust rag.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.