CINCINNATI–The blank, oppressive void facing the American consumer populace remains unfilled today, despite the recent launch of the revolutionary Swiffer dust-elimination system, sources reported Monday.
The lightweight, easy-to-use Swiffer is the 275,894,973rd amazing new product to fail to fill the void–a vast, soul-crushing spiritual vacuum Americans of all ages helplessly face on a daily basis, with nowhere to turn and no way to escape.
"The remarkable new Swiffer sweeps, dusts, wipes, and cleans with a patented electrostatic action that simply cannot be beat," said spokeswoman Judith McReynolds, media-relations liaison for Procter & Gamble, maker of the dustbroom device. "Whether it's vinyl floors, tile, hardwood, ceilings, or stairs, the incredible Swiffer quickly cleans any dry surface by attracting and trapping even the tiniest dirt and dust particles."
"The incredible Swiffer's extendable telescoping action has just what it takes to cut clean-up time in half," McReynolds continued. "Say goodbye to tedious dusting chores forever... the Swiffer way!"
Upon completing the statement, McReynolds was struck, as she is most days, with a sudden, unbearable realization that she has wasted her life.
Despite high hopes, the Swiffer has failed to imbue a sense of meaning and purpose in the lives of its users.
"The new Swiffer, as seen on TV, requires no spray or chemical cleaners, so I'm sure you can understand how excited I was to finally find something that could give my sad, short existence a sense of worth," said Manitowoc, WI, homemaker Gwen Hull. "When you finish the clean-up job, simply tear off the patented Swiffer Cloth and throw it away–as easy as one, two, three. But when I did this, tossing the soiled, disposable Swiffer Cloth into the garbage can like so many hollow, rejected yesterdays, I thought to myself, 'Is that it? Aren't I supposed to feel more fulfilled than this?' It all felt so futile. I felt like that Swiffer Cloth in the trash represented me, my hopes and dreams made manifest. I felt like it was my goals and aspirations for a better life that were lying there in the garbage, never to be heard from again."
"I felt so alone," added Hull, loosening her grip on the Swiffer's convenient extendable handle–which can reach even the tightest corners–causing the product to fall to the floor. "So very, very alone."
Hull's reaction was echoed by fellow Swiffer owner Glenn Pulsipher. A 45-year-old telemarketing coordinator for a Van Nuys satellite TV company, he said his recent Swiffer purchase has proven to be an ineffective void-filling measure.
"Ever since my divorce nine years ago, I'd been meaning to keep this place a little more clean and presentable for visitors," said Pulsipher, who last had a houseguest in April 1997. "But with all the different sprays and sponges you have to use, who has the time? But when I saw the Swiffer ad on TV, I thought to myself: Wow, all that cleaning power in one simple, easy-to-use tool! And such a bargain! I guess I thought that maybe if I bought one, my life would be easier, more fun, more special. Well, I thought wrong."
"Not that it doesn't work," Pulsipher added. "It does: It works exactly like they said on TV. But after using it once or twice, the sad fact was I no longer cared."
"Why would I?" he continued, sinking into his living-room La-Z-Boy to watch ESPN alone for the 478th time this year. "I mean, it's a dustbroom. What more is there to say?"
"Dust in the wind," said Pulsipher, his voice taking on a muted tone of resignation as the TV blared. "That's all our various pitiful and deluded human endeavors ever amount to in the end. My job, my marriage–dust. All dust. And all the Swiffers in the world can't sweep it all up."
Many Swiffer owners have attempted to bolster the fleeting satisfaction the product offers with other Swiffer-related activities, but to no avail. In the past four weeks, more than 40,000 achingly empty consumers have logged on to www.swiffer.com to download pages of "Swiffer FAQs" and "Useful Tips" on optimal Swiffer use. Also widely downloaded was the tour schedule for the "Swiffer Mobile," a Swiffer-themed truck–complete with promotional displays, demonstrations of anti-dust technological innovations, and a stated mission to "examine the mundane task of housecleaning under the keen eye of science"–which will travel to 20 markets across the U.S. this summer. None of these efforts, however, have met with anything but crushing, soul-depleting disappointment and failure.
The hope that the right product will one day come along and bring happiness to consumers' lives is a longstanding American tradition. However, the Swiffer's failure to fill the void has led some to doubt that any product, no matter how revolutionary and convenient, will ever do so.
"It's time we woke up and realized that the wait is never going to end," said Dr. James Ingersoll of the D.C.-based Institute For American Values. "The void is never, I repeat, never going to be filled by something we see on TV and can order with our credit cards."
For others, however, there remains hope.
"Just because the Swiffer and the other 35 new products I've bought over the past three months haven't filled the void, that doesn't mean the next product won't be the one," said Minneapolis homemaker Ellen Bender. "I just ordered the new HyperVac Advanced CyberCarpet CleanWare System, and I just can't wait until it arrives and completely transforms my flat, unsatisfying life."
Procter & Gamble offered its apologies to those who had pinned their hopes on the new dustbroom.
"We are deeply sorry for the Swiffer's failure to ease the crushing ennui faced by U.S. consumers, and we promise to redouble our efforts to one day develop a product that will succeed in soothing your tortured souls," a statement released by Procter & Gamble read in part.