Monday, August 1, 2011

Putting a Lid on It

It is with much regret that I must announce the end of an error. I know some of you have been following this saga on facebook for some months now, but for the rest of you, here’s what preceded yesterday’s events:

We bought a new house last year, and even though everything about it was bigger (and in most regards, better) than the last, one downside was the lack of a place to hide the garbage cans. I prefer storing them in the backyard, somewhere out of sight of the general public and out of reach of the critters, but close enough to the back door so as not to turn the simple chore of emptying the kitchen can into a trial. Plus, they have to be somewhat near the front curb in order to avoid turning weekly trash trips into Hefty treks.

But our new home offered no convenient space to keep them. The back deck ran the length of the house, but was too low to store them under it, and the rest of the yard was so nicely landscaped, it seemed a shame to ruin it with rubbish. The side yards were out, with one already cluttered with pool pumps and filters and the other impassable due to trees and bushes, leaving only the front yard as a viable option. (Note: We do have a semi-attached garage, but for some reason, I can’t stomach the thought of storing garbage in there.)

Resigned to the front of the house, the only logical place for them was a space to the right of the kitchen entry steps. They would be close to the door for (twice) daily household removal and a straight shot to the curb for weekly pick-up - but -  they would also be in plain sight of the neighbors and the first thing people saw when pulling into our driveway. With that in mind, I decided to retire my battle-worn Rubbermaids and class things up a bit with something nice, so I went to the local Sears hardware to check out my options. An hour and $90 later, I returned with a pair of shiny aluminum Oscar the Grouch style cans, figuring their hefty weight and price tag would be offset by their cool retro styling.  And I must admit, they did look pretty sweet sitting out there in front of the house – for about 12 hours.

THE VERY NEXT DAY all was ruined. It was Garbage Day and after transferring the trash from the old cans into the new ones and lugging them to the curb – one at a time, mind you, as their old school wire handles, and impossible to secure lids made it too difficult to take them two at a time like my old ones (plus, being metal I couldn’t drag them down the driveway without scarring the pavement and scaring the baby), I came home from work to find my shiny new cans all dented and dirty from being tossed aside by the garbagemen, and one lid flattened into a tinfoil pancake after getting run over at least several times by passing cars. 
My crushed lid :(

Disheartened, I carried the cans back to their spots (again, one at a time, as they no longer stacked neatly inside each other due to all the dents) and lamented what could have been.

Over the next few months, I stubbornly continued to use them. The one with the serviceable lid was always my first option, but come Monday, that would be full, leaving me no choice but to use the other. By Thursday (trash pick-up day) that can would also be full, its flattened lid uselessly balanced on top like a jaunty beret.  It got so I started to dread Wednesday evenings, when I’d have to carry them to the curb, hugging the heavy cans close to my chest while pressing my chin down on the lids to keep them from falling off. I was practically humping my garbage – and to think this all started because I thought having them in my garage was gross!

But I refuse to admit to defeat, so I carried on in this fashion for nearly 6 more months. And then summer came, bringing with it weekly picnics, hot humid temperatures, and lots and lots of trash. I soon found that leaving steaming bags of half-eaten hamburgers and left over potato salad in unsealed metal cans for a week in 90-degree heat does not lead to pleasant things. Besides the suppurating smell and buzzing of flies that seemingly flew straight in from Amityville, there were millions of maggots to deal with.

And that’s when I threw in the towel – from a safe distance of course.

So yesterday, an hour and $65 later, I returned from Home Depot with a pair of Rubbermaid 45-gallon cans…with wheels and attached lids.  Problem solved, right? Well sort of. Now I just have to figure out what to do with my old garbage cans. Do I just leave them at the curb, empty, and hope the garbagemen realize I’m not senile and just want them thrown away? Or do I fill them and leave a sign that says, “Toss the whole thing.” Or  should I crush them up and try to shove them into one of the new cans? Actually, come to think of it, since they’re aluminum, they probably should be recycled. Sheesh! What a pain in the trash. No wonder Oscar was such a grouch!

PS - Want a signed 8x10 of me in the trash? Just send me an email ( listing all the garbage related puns you can find above - "winner" will be determined by who finds the most!


  1. I gave in to plastic cans in the garage a long time ago. Those aluminum cans are better as an idea than as reality. Someday when I'm rich, I'll have an underground garbage storage facility, where I will just need to push a button and it will rise to street level and move to the curb on its own.

  2. I just can't stop laughing!! The image of the "jaunty beret" has got me going!!!!


  3. eewww and funny :) garbage humper...

    since they are alumininum (all ooo minium), non porous, scrubbable, and reusable...i think you should do so, cut out the bottom, hinge the top, and sew together some muppet costumes...oh yes and build a miniature sesame street in the corner of your yard :) you have time for that :)

  4. Chris, let me know if you're garbage lair works out, I"ll commission you to do mine

    Liz, usually in whatever I write I have what I consider to be my "money shot" - one thought or idea that makes reading all the other crap around it worthwhile - and you found it!

    And Ann Onimous, before doing anything with the can, I need someone to come help tug my fat ass out of it, I'm stuck!