The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

On the way up the elevator this morning, I shared a ride with a couple of 50-ish ditzy-girl types who work in another part of the building. As they piled into the car, one managed to trample on the other's toes, causing them to cackle with one another during the entire ride.

"You're just like my neighbor! You know those Hooverounds?" one said to the other.

"Oh, your neighbor has one of those?" the other replied.

"Yeah, and she rolled right over my foot with it last week!" Ha ha ha ha.

"Oh you know," the other said, "I wanted to get one of those for a gift for my cousin, they look so neat the way they run across the whole carpet and everything."

"Does she need one?"

"Well, I don't know, but it would be nice for the house, and I think it's just neat to watch."

Elevator rings, their floor is up, they step off still chatting about this. As the doors closed and their chatter faded off, it registered with me that they were talking about two different things.

The "Hooveround" that ran over the one's foot was actually a Hoveround, a battery-powered wheelchair whose brand familiarity is due to the rather cheesy TV commercials that used to run incessantly in Tampa Bay (and maybe other areas). As you might guess from the spelling, she was pronouncing it wrong: It's HUH-ver-ound, not HOO-ver-ound (have I mentioned before my snobbish disdain for people who mispronounce rather obvious words?).

Perhaps thrown by the "Hoover" part of "Hooveround", which brings to mind the Hoover brand of vacuum cleaners, her companion was talking about the Roomba. Being a Roomba owner myself, I can attest to the "neatness" of watching it do its thing back and forth across a room. I also know that there's little chance of a Roomba running across anyone's foot, since it's programmed to bump it's way around any such obstacle; but to the uninitiated, it's an understandable assumption.

As I pondered this miscommunicative exchange, I absently wondered how long it took them to realize the confusion between themselves. You'd think it would be fairly quickly, but I wouldn't give them too much credit.