I have had this dustmop since 1966. Or maybe even before that. It has a sturdy red wooden handle and a shaped wire piece at the end. The knotted string part fits around the metal and closes with a little zipper. Once in a long while I will put this red thing that looks like a clown wig into the wash. Afterward I have to wipe out all that red fuzz. So it too is half a century old. But it still works.
I thought it might be time to think about a replacement. My broom closet has one of those flat modern ones where you buy wet or dry pieces of some kind of synthetic fabric to attach. Then you throw them away after use. Eponymously, my closet also has a broom. It is not the kind one might see in a charming painting, the old-fashioned broom made from tied straw. What witches drive. Deep within my jumble of cleaning tools is a duster shaped like a lozenge, specifically for squeezing between shutters. It flops around uselessly and I should really throw it away.
Broom is named for the straw that old-fashioned brooms were made from. There’s a place in Vancouver that makes them by hand for a very big price. They will look fetching leaning beside a country kitchen door. You wouldn’t want to sweep with them, I am guessing.
My broom has no broom in it. My broom is all synthetic as far as I can tell. The handle is plastic with a leopard print on it. The broom part is made from thin black plastic straw-like pieces with slightly fuzzy ends. It works OK I guess but I have to use an old-fashioned straw whisk to sweep the pile into the dustpan. The plastic broom doesn’t want to let go of its treasures.
Hardware stores and dollar stores, where one purchases these cleaning products, seem to favour the modern versions. Nobody carries dust mop heads that fit my old mop. I thought that they must now be merely vintage items for eBay. So the highlight of my internet surfing this week has been the discovery of a company called Grainger that actually carries guess what?
Immediately I dial the 1888 number and get a call centre out there somewhere. A disembodied yet friendly voice asks me for the item number and how many I want. She is probably thinking that I am a company with a team of cleaners.
“One,” I reply. “Oh, I might as well get two while I’m at it.” I don’t know why I said that since my original mop head still works, and really, how much mopping will I do? But two it is.
“They'll call when your order is ready for pickup. You need to bring your license or some other official identification.”
The following morning I find myself in an industrial plaza where this supplier is located. It’s a world of wonders that I couldn’t have imagined. There are tools worth thousands of dollars, magical things that can do magical tasks. There are batteries worth a fortune, plus small ordinary items. I present my licence and my name and an employee goes into a back room and retrieves my packages, but I can’t just walk away. I have to wait for it to be rung in. The man in front of me is spending way too long deliberating over which knife he should buy, but finally I get to pay for my selection.
“My mop is from 1966,” I tell the clerk proudly. He expresses the amazement that I expect, and the amazement that I feel in finding these mop heads for my ancient device.
I can’t wait to get home and mop.
My new one is a little thinner and has no zipper. Plus it’s yellow.
This is already a very exciting day, and now it gets even better when I get to dust away all the corners, the spider webs at the ceiling, the underparts of furniture, some blinds and window sashes. And – throw it in the wash, admiring all of the dirt that has adhered to my yellow mop head.
Thereby illustrating the adage that small things amuse small minds.