Ray's Vacuum Cleaner Repair

Sep 14, 2002

RAY: A few weeks ago, my vacuum broke. This is a conventional vacuum cleaner -- the kind that's on wheels, with the hose that plugs in on one end. The vacuum looks like a torpedo.

Before I threw it out, however, I decided I'd take it apart to see if I could fix it. I surprised myself and found the problem. It was a broken wire.

While I'm fixing it, I notice a huge chunk of iron attached to the base of the vacuum. It looks like it weighs about two pounds.

I remembered two years ago when I took a stereo component apart. I noticed that it also had a huge chunk of iron in there -- so that you wouldn't think it was a big empty box with 65 cents' worth of components

I thought, do I want my wife dragging around this vacuum cleaner that's two pounds heavier? Of course not. I'll just throw this thing out. So I pry off the piece of iron and I put the vacuum back together.

A while later, I'm sitting at the kitchen table, smugly chewing on an apple.

TOM: And it doesn't work?

RAY: Oh, it works all right. But something very funny happens.


RAY: Anyway, my wife comes into the house and I proudly proclaim that I've fixed the vacuum cleaner and made it lighter --

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: -- and I invite her to press the button. And she does. And the question is, what happened? Well, I'm sure most of you would expect that the thing burst into flames or vibrated itself to death. But I gave a hint and the hint was: I was chewing on an apple and the apple should remind you of whom?

TOM: William Tell. Adam and Eve.

RAY: Well, one, yeah, three guesses. This is --

TOM: A doctor.

RAY: You get three guesses for a quarter.

TOM: I got three. I got the three most obvious things.

RAY: You got, what if an apple hit you in the head? Who would that remind you of?

TOM: Isaac!

RAY: Isaac Newton, there you go.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And I was reminded of Newton's third, second or first law of motion. I think it's the third, which says, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

TOM: Oh, that's why you were eating the apple.

RAY: That's why I was eating the apple. It was a hint.

TOM: Oh, a hint.

RAY: And when she hit the switch, the fact that I had removed this hunk of iron made the vacuum cleaner behave in a peculiar manner.

TOM: Sure.

RAY: The motor started turning in one direction and the whole vacuum cleaner --

TOM: Turned in the other direction.

RAY: Turned in the other direction.

TOM: Started doing flips on the kitchen floor, right?

RAY: Ripping the cord out of the wall, creating all kinds of sparks at which point --

TOM: And a fire.

RAY: At which point my wife said, good work, Hon. So they had put the weight in for a reason.

TOM: Yeah, I guess so.

RAY: I guess so.

TOM: It wasn't the sleazeball marketing types; it was the sleazeball engineering department.

RAY: Anyway, so who's our winner?

TOM: Well, the winner is John Harding from Washington, DC.

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