Mike Marbach is an improvisor living in Philadelphia. He is a teacher at Philly Improv Theater as well as the coach of PHIT house team Asteroid. He is a cast member of improvised telenovela Pasiones de Pasiones and improv show in real time twenty-four. Sometimes he likes to write letters to companies.

Dearest Bissell,

I’m writing to thank you for quite possibly saving my life and/or the life of someone else in my house. I’ll explain how this happened, but first the story needs some set up.

I recently moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Greenwood, Indiana. That is a city south of the Hoosier State’s capital, Indianapolis. Greenwood is a nice place to live should you ever consider moving here. The only thing that I can really count as strikes against it is the fact that there aren’t really any sidewalks. So, walking to and fro the place of your choice will have to be done in grass, mud or in the street next to the grass and mud nearly getting hit by cars. I plan on writing to the City of Greenwood about this matter. By that I mean writing to the City Council, not writing to every resident of the city. That would consume too much of my time- one of my most valuable assets. So, you know that by taking the time to write to you it must be of some importance.

In Philadelphia I worked at a Best Buy. I got a job at Best Buy so when I move to Los Angeles, a move I hope to make in my lifetime, I’ll have a job upon arriving. You see, I’m able to transfer between stores. Sure, there are times when I wish I were doing something that put the degree hanging on my wall to use, but I like the job. Actually, I have a confession to make. The degree is not on my wall. It’s in a box in my closet, which oddly enough, is next to an unopened 3-pack of Degree Antiperspirant/Deodorant. I never liked “powder fresh”. Why would I want to smell like an infant? At any rate, I transferred to the Best Buy here in Greenwood located right up the street from my house. This is good, because I do not yet drive. Though walking back and forth to work with no sidewalks is quite frustrating.

When I moved, I took about a month before starting at the Greenwood Best Buy. I did this with the intention of doing some writing, which didn’t really happen. I just sat around playing Halo 2 on the Xbox I bought for the purpose of sitting around playing Halo 2. Before actually starting at the Greenwood Best Buy I spent a lot of money there. My discount was still in tact. My mom and I went one day and got a new washer and dryer, a toaster that is quite a disappointment and also a vacuum. This, my friend, brings me to the reason for this letter to you.

My family has never had much luck in the vacuum area. The earliest vacuum memory I have is of this lime green one we had when I was growing up. Maybe more of a forest green. Well, somewhere between the two shades. That vacuum looked like something we had made ourselves. I’m still not sure how I didn’t electrocute myself with that thing. The wires were exposed in several areas and each prong was somewhat twisted. On top of that, toward the end of its life, it began to put down more dirt than it would bring in. I’m not really sure how that would happen, but it did. I’m not sure how or when that vacuum’s end came, but it was replaced at some point. I know that much.

The next vacuum was a Eureka Boss. After several months we fired the Boss. The belt kept breaking! You knew it was coming too. You’d be vacuuming and all of a sudden you’d catch a whiff of burning rubber followed by some smoke. You’d think we were trying to vacuum a bed of rocks or something, but we weren’t- just carpet. I also think that Eureka discontinued the bags needed for this vacuum, shortly after we bought it. We had to keep settling for a larger bag, that didn’t quite fit. So, the vacuum would sometimes spray a puff of thick dust up into my face upon turning it on. It wouldn’t do it every time, just every so often. It was like a game of Russian Roulette, only with vacuums.

Following the boss was the Eureka FeatherLite. We should have learned after our first experience with Eureka how the next experience would go. This vacuum actually worked pretty well- at least as far as cleaning up dirt. There was something that, though invisible to the eye, could not hide from the nose. The FeatherLite somehow made the vacuumed room smell like freshly spewed vomit. That is not a joke. I wish that it were. During and after the use of this vacuum, the smell of vomit would fill the house. This was a smell of barf so strong that it would make the user dry heave. It affects me to this day. When most people smell vomit, they associate it with someone being sick. I associate the smell of vomit with someone cleaning. Eureka hath ruined me. If that smell could somehow be bottled, it would make for some funny practical jokes, possibly even some TV bloopers.

This brings us to our present vacuum, which we purchased at the Greenwood Best Buy along with the Washer, the dryer and the toaster that I’m none too pleased with. The vacuum we picked up that day was the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe with “Clean Carpet Sensor and wide cleaning path.” A bagless vacuum! Oh wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles! No more fiddling around with bags that may or may no fit the vacuum! No more puffs of dirt spraying randomly into my face! And no more late-fees! Wait, that has to do with Blockbuster. And a “clean carpet sensor?” That’s just great! I never know when to stop vacuuming. I never think the carpet is clean enough. Now, with this nifty new “clean carpet sensor” I’ll know exactly when I can stop. When the light is red, I keep going. When it’s green, I know it’s clean! What will you guys think of next? That’s an actual question, not rhetorical. Please let me know what you guys think of next. I could end this letter here, but I would have done so without getting to the event that prompted me to write the letter in the first place. So, I continue.

Today I was in my bedroom meticulously putting together a house of cards, when I heard my nephew running down the hall toward my room. He swung open my door and I leapt to block the opened door’s rush of wind from knocking over my house of cards. I was successful, though when he entered he kicked over my cup of Cream Soda. At any rate, he rushed in to tell my older sister needed my help. I went downstairs to her room, where I saw her standing outside the room staring into one corner. I asked what she wanted, to which she replied telling me to look close at the corner. No sooner did I look into the corner did I see a massive, furry, worm-like creature with more legs than the sky has stars, scurry across the floor out of sight. I knew then what I was called to do.

I fought many a bug in my day. The physical wounds have healed, but the emotional and psychological scars have yet to fade. There was the “Barbarian Bee” of the late nineties. That was a carpenter Bee that somehow made it into my room, probably through the window I kept open. Though the carpenter bees rarely sting, that doesn’t stop them from flying right into your face making you scream to the amusement of the all-guys dorm. After a long and arduous battle the bee disappeared, maybe through that open window. I fear one day he’ll come back and try to finish what he started. Then there was the “Great Spider Scare” of aught one. I really dislike spiders, but I was forced to deal with this one due to my roommate’s outright fear of them. My roommate at the time was Jonah (yes, like the whale guy). He was a weight lifter and quite big. So, seeing him flee from a spider is quite a site. Sort of like the Elephant being scared of the mouse. This spider was one tough cookie. It appeared to be wearing those gloves with the fingers cut out on each leg, but I could be wrong. I do know that it had a mullet. The hair on this thing was so thick it could be combed. He definitely had a “business in the front, party in the back” look. After a couple whacks, he shook one of his fists at me and then fell to his death.

After having come out victorious in the aforementioned bug-fighting campaigns, I felt rather confident going into battle the many leg-ed creature that took up residence in my sister’s bedroom. Before fighting, I wanted to know my enemy. I consulted my Entomological books to find out what I was up against. I checked the pictures against my quick sighting of the beast and concluded that it was a centipede. A centipede with no concern for me or my family that needed to be stopped. I had no reason to think that the standard weapons would not work. I reached into my bug-fighting bag of tricks and came out with a bottle of Windex. I’m not sure why, but that’s usually the first line of defense for me. Bug in the house? Get the Windex! That’s usually how it works. I sprayed the thing with the liquid and waited for its demise. Death was not to come. This beast shook off the Windex like a dog coming in out of the rain. This was the multi-surface Windex. I’m not sure if that helped or hindered its bug killing powers, but it had little to no effect. This startled me a bit, but it didn’t phase me. On to “plan B”. I took off the shoe and waited for the monster to show itself. After moving several pieces of furniture, my opportunity to end this finally came. I swung at the thing with the orthopedic-looking shoe I bought for working at the Greenwood Best Buy, since the white casual sneakers I wore at my other store were not allowed. At first I thought I had missed, so I swung again. And again. And again. I was not missing. The shoe was having no effect! This could be because, being a comfort shoe, my shoe is made of a softer material than most shoes. It was as if the bug had some sort of steel exoskeleton, not unlike the mutant Wolverine of the X-Men. What could I do? I tried the Windex. I used the shoe. What’s left?

I went through the rolodex of bug-killing tactics in my head. I skimmed the room’s arsenal of every day objects turned weapons when I saw it. A beam of light shone down and around the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe. I couldn’t use it in the upright, push style, I needed some agility. So, I hooked up the hose and flipped the switch. I put my hand up against the tip of the hose to test its power and believe me when I say I’m lucky I still have my hand. You don’t want to toy with 12 amps of suction. I moved the bed out of the way and waited for the great beast to appear before me. And then… it did. It walked out like Maximus Decimus Meridias ready to defeat another unworthy opponent in the Roman Coliseum. Though I wanted this beast gone from the house, I couldn’t help but respect its power. As I neared the hairy creature with the telescoping handle of the Bissell, I could swear that some of its arms were waving in a “bring it on” sort of motion. I brought it on- all 12 amps. My sister claims to have heard it saying, “Oh no. A vacuum. Whatever shall I do?” in a very child-like and sarcastic tone. I can’t back that up, as I did not hear it. Anyway, I put the hose’s tip right up to the bug’s tail or head… I can’t be sure which it was… and prepared for the saga to end. But end it did not! This behemoth continued to move away from the 12 amps of suction! How could this be? I tried again. Still again this bug made a Herculean effort to evade the vacuum’s wrath. A third time I went at the beast with the hose and the third time was the last. The gladiator-bug was sucked up into the hose through the tube and into the easy empty container of the Bissell Cleanview bagless Deluxe. The “clean carpet sensor” went from red to green and I knew the battle was over. Nearly a ½ hour after it began, the saga had ended.

The point of this letter is that Bissell might have saved my life today. After consulting my Entomological books, I don’t believe this monster was life threatening, but rather was only capable of giving me an extreme case of the willies. Though, had it been a poisonous insect, I can rest knowing that the Bissell CleanView bagless Deluxe did what the exterminator could not- rid my house of pests. Yes, that’s plural. Earlier today, but after the bout with the beast, my sister used the Bissell to suck up a bunch of lady bugs congregating by her window. I hope that word spreads in the bug community about our new weapon so spreading fear.

Now I’m sure that Bissell didn’t intend extermination as a use for the Cleanview bagless Deluxe, but I’m glad that I had it on my side. The battled raged, the scales tipped from side to side, but in the end the Bissell came out on top. How could a bug compete with the makers of the Big Green Clean Machine? Bissell, you free my carpet of dirt, my house of creepy crawly things and my mind of worries about both. Keep up the good work!

–Mike Marbach

PS: It was definitely more of a sea-green now that I think of it.

PPS: Below is an artists rendering of what the Bissell CleanView Bagless Deluxe hepled me oust from my house.


Official Response from Bissell

April 18, 2005

Dear Mr. Marbach,

Thank you for writing BISSELL Consumer Services. It is always beneficial when a consumer takes the time to write, sharing with us their evaluation of a BISSELL product or service.

It was a pleasure to read your interesting story regarding the BISSELL Cleanview Bagless Deluxe Vacuum and how it saved your day! Your letter will be circulated to other departments within the company so others may share the same opportunity to read and enjoy it as well!

If you ever have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact BISSELL Consumer Services through the toll-free number provided below. Any one of our representatives can help you.

Thank you.

BISSELL Homecare Inc.