Saturday, January 18, 2014

Nagging About the Garbage

The garbage smells like cat litter. I'd like to tell you that when I clean the litter box and then ask Nick to take the garbage out, he jumps right up to do just that. He doesn't. He requires nagging. He's even said so himself. I hate nagging. He and Mike are playing video games. It's our usual Saturday. I'm in the kitchen noodling around and they're on the couch while shouting and artillery sounds emanate from the television. I'm tempted to put the open pail next to Nick in all its odoriferous glory, but I know I won't because of the foot pedal on the automatic lid of my sweet garbage can.

I love my garbage can. When Teddy, our dog, was younger, he used to get into the garbage when no one was looking. He ate a whole chicken carcass that way once. We just couldn't seem to break him of this habit, so we went to Bed Bath and Beyond and looked at garbage cans with lids. In our usual engineering style, we took each one off the shelf and tried them out. This one would be knocked over too easily. That one had the foot pedal on the wide side and we'd have to walk around a corner, nearly out of the kitchen, every time we wanted to use it. This other one didn't open easily. And that hands-free one? I didn't want to have to wave wet garbage over the top of the can, the same way people do jazz hands in front of airport paper towel dispensers, to get the damned thing to work. We ended up buying something that I thought was too heavy and would be too wide for the space where it would go, but it wasn't. It was nearly perfect.

That was over a year ago and I have to tell you that I love my garbage can. When I'm about to throw away a paper towel that isn't too dirty, I wipe down the stainless steel cover that says 'simplehuman' and then I press the pedal with my foot and wipe the inside of the cover as well.  When the garbage threatens to touch the top of that cover, I get to nagging Nick until he takes the garbage outside. Sometimes I take the overflowing pail out of the mechanism so that the lid doesn't get mucked up with slimy stuff at the top while it waits for Nick to do his job.

See, back before we realized that we had a problem with rats in the garage, I composted in a bin outside. I found satisfaction in seeing my compost turn pink and green with mold, grow mushrooms, then go flaccid and disappear into dirt. It smelled, but it was a beautiful part of the circle of life, the part that connects predators to worms. Some of those molds were a very pretty pink. And delicate fields of mushrooms appeared overnight. When our dog Indiana started getting into the compost, Mike built a lid for it with a latch. It didn't work because Indiana chewed the corner of the lid off and got into it anyway. Usually, those episodes ended with her puking compost and chunks of wood onto my beige carpet. Gees, we didn't even put any meat products in there. It was all vegetables! And then, Mike got a family of mice in the shop vac in the garage and we were officially done with composting.

Before all that, though, I had this sweet stainless steel container for my kitchen. I lined it with biodegradable plastic bags, but I noticed that the lid became absolutely corroded and I realized that my sweet stainless steel container itself was beginning to compost too. Any place on the inside of that lid that had ever touched my unused vegetables got ugly. Eventually, I replaced it with a small plastic bucket that didn't even have a lid so I had to empty it before it got gross, before it began to compost right in my kitchen. So, when the garbage in my nice can gets near the top, I remember the likes of that sweet stainless steel container I had in my kitchen, I take the pail out of the mechanism, and yell for Nick to take the garbage out.

And he procrastinates. What kid do you know that doesn't?

In the meantime, I go about my usual kitchen duties and, without thinking, put my foot onto that pedal and toss in a handful of wet garbage, paper towels, egg shells, whatever. Then, about the time the stuff splats onto the bottom of the empty bin, I realize I had already taken the pail out and it's standing in sight, next to the part with the mechanical lid. Now, I have to go head first into it to clean out the crud I just dropped into the bottom. Yuck.

So, my solution to this is to put the full pail of garbage in front of the foot pedal so I don't automatically step there and toss garbage where I'll just have to dive in and clean it up. That means that, because I can't remember what I have just done, I can't put that putrid pail of cat litter in front of Nick, who is still playing video games on the couch, where the smell would drive him, without one word of nagging, to take the garbage out.

Thank you for listening, jb

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