I spent my morning vacuuming up water that was spreading across the laundry room floor and then, just for fun, out of the bottom of the basement toilet. It was not, unfortunately, the first time I or the fiancé have had to perform such a task. In fact, our house has had a very, very wet year. If the faucets weren’t leaking then the dishwasher was. If water wasn’t pouring out of the pot lights in the basement, creating a deluge across our newly installed wood floor, then it was spilling in through the windows during a storm that featured — here’s a new twist — horizontal rain.

So, as we walk around with rolled-up pants and say hello again to our plumber pals, it’s time to recognize a little something that has been our savior over the past 11 months. One of those unheralded heroes. Undemanding. Dependable. Easy.

Everyone, here’s to the Shop Vac.

My relationship with Shoppy started when I was about 22. My dad was deeply involved in his bachelorhood and eager to style his home exactly how he’d always wanted. As such, he installed an über-powerful fireplace that, in a pinch, heated the house in the dead of winter in, oh, five minutes. He built a workshop/garage that featured floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides so he could watch the river.

And he somehow rigged his Shop Vac — using duct tape, of course — with an ultra-long hose so he wouldn’t have to mess with conventional vacuum cleaners.

“It works great!” my dad screamed as he plowed around on his floors.

I had to admit: It did.

My relationship with the cleaner flourished a few years ago when I decided it was time to spiff the garage. Rather than deal with the antiquated broom, I pulled out the Shop Vac and started sucking up leaves and everything else that was in my path. Who knew how satisfying an experience it would be? My favorite part was vacuuming around the window, whose screen had gotten tangled with dozens of spider webs that had captured dozens of bugs.

Thp! Thp! Thp! went Shoppy with each fly, each grasshopper, each cricket, leaving every surface neat and clean.

I pulled out Shoppy again last January as I dealt with the cleanup of an extraordinarily long-needled Christmas tree. We’d had the tree so long and it was so brittle that nearly every one of its needles had gotten on the floor or laced its way into the carpet.

The central vac started whining and quit nearly immediately after I pulled her out of the pantry. Not only did she refuse to work, she somehow formed a ball of needles — akin to a hair ball —in the middle of her hose.

I can only assume it was her passive-aggressive way of delivering her objection.

So Shoppy stepped in and got to work. No complaints. No moaning. Just easy cleaning.

Imagine my surprise when I found out he was able to suck up water too. I learned this a few months ago when the air conditioning froze and then consequently started melting off its condensation (did I mention it’s been a tough year?). The fiancé was in the basement with his headphones on, calmly using the vacuum to lap up the water. I stood there amazed. After all, how it is even possible that, in so sucking, the water doesn’t destroy the motor? The science is beyond me.

But while he sucks up water and debris alike, the interesting thing is that while Shoppy is always used in a pinch, he’s cast aside, forgotten about when he’s not needed. Forgotten about so wholly there have been times he’s patiently held water in his belly for months at a time without ever leaking. Without even letting on that the stagnant water inside him smells like death. And, while things break down around us, Shoppy always works. You flip that switch and he always comes screamingly on. If he vacuums up bugs, he picks them all up. If he vacuums up water, he sucks everything dry.

He’s like the Wall-E of this century.

So, as I stand here with my feet wet but the laundry room saved, I ask you all now to raise your glasses in a toast. Here’s to the Little Engine that Could, the Red Rider, the picker-uppers of all picker-uppers.

He’s one heck of a suck.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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