Have you ever tried to mail a vacuum? Believe me, it ain't easy. I know; I tried.
It all started about a year or so ago, when I bought my wife a new Bissell vacuum cleaner. It worked beautifully, even out here in the desert, where I have so much trouble with dust and sand.
Then one day, the little thing that picks up the dirt broke. It had frozen up and sorta melted.
I called Bissell and begn to describe the problem. The girl I spoke to seem confused. "What twirly thing" she asked.
"You know, that round thing onthe bottom with little brooms that whirls around and picks up the dirt," I said.
"Oh," she replied. "That's called a brush."
"Whatever," I said. "Anyway, it don't twirl no more."
After this brief discussion, she said they would send me a new one. That was nice, but then I began having problems with the little rubber belt breaking or slipping off.
Again I called Bissell. They sent me a new twirly thing, but I continued to have problems with the belt breaking or slipping off.
I called Bissell once again and discussed the problem and suggested that if they sent me the parts, I could make the repairs.
They informed me that because of the parts' location, I would have to take it to an authorized repair facility.
I advised them that the nearest facility was 120 miles away in Las Vegas, and that it would be inconvenient for me to take it in.
So after much discussion, it was decided they would send me a new machine, and I would return the old one to them. And best of all, they would pay for the shipping. They even sent me a prepaid shipping label.
For two weeks, I watched the road for a delivery truck to bring me a new machine. Finally, I called to inquire about the problem. I'm glad I did.
It was then that I learned they expected me to send my old machine to them first. That was OK with me, except that I didn't have a box to ship it in.
I had planned to ship the old machine in the box the new one came in. Now I was faced with the problem of finding a suitable shipping container. I had discarded the original box about 10 minutes after I had gotten it home. Who keeps empty boxes?
I could buy a box, but they were all the wrong size. I called UPS, and they would make one for me, but it would cost about $24. I felt that was a little steep.
If I was rich, I would just buy a new machine and throw the old one away. But if I could figure out a way to ship my old one back, I would then get a new one for FREE!
Then I realized I had a whole bunch of scrap plywood in the backyard, and I could make a box.
I wasn't worried about weight. After all, Bissell was paying for the shipping.
So digging out the battery-operated saw and drill I got for Christmas last year, I began to measure and cut.
I am not a carpenter. I quickly ran into a problem that even thought I knew where I was going, I did not know which path to take.
I experienced a problem my dad used to joke about: "I've cut the darned thing twice, and it's still too short!"
I was grateful I still had plenty of wood.
It turned out pretty well, even if I do say so mself. I thought of my wood shop teacher back in high school. I know he would have been proud.
Even if the box wasn't exactly square, the vacuum cleaner would fit, and with a little adjustment, I could screw the lid down tight.
Of course, the box weighed almost as much as the vacuum cleaner, but I didn't mind.
As I carefully packed the machine into the box and surrounded it with newspaper, I felt I had been very clever and resourceful.
Then I had chills run down my spine when my wife commented, "What if they use that box to send the new one back in?"