News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists


Caution: Don't follow instructions

When the drink machine keeps your money, you kick it.

If the lawnmower won't start, you give it a sharp boot.

If the TV picture is fuzzy, you slap the side of the box.

The premise behind these remedial repairs is that if something inside is loose, a good jarring blow might put everything back into place.

But when it comes to keeping the lid on the garbage can, try this:

You know those arrows on the can and the instructions to always point them at the street on pickup day?

Defy instruction and see what happens. You might, as many other local residents, find the solution to your open-lid problem.

Garbage day is Wednesday at our house. The can goes to the street late Tuesday with the arrows on the container pointing toward the street, and me assuming their precise alignment has to do with mechanically lifting and dumping.

The problem is that sanitation workers always leave the top open, which is OK unless it rains.

Garbage cans don't have drain holes for obvious reasons, so during rain the can starts to fill. That means it must be turned upside down to drain, and soggy leftover refuge comes out, too.

Meanwhile, our neighbors to our right and left rarely have the can tops left open, especially on rainy days.

Why ours and not theirs?

Is there something about the symmetry of the hinged lid on our container that prevents the lid from closing?

I think about that while retrieving the can.

The Sanitation Department tells me the problem might be that I follow instructions.

Instead of pointing the arrows at the street, I should turn the container around so the lid hinge faces Indian Hills Road.

"That works for some people. It has to do with the way they set it down," a helpful and sympathetic office worker said last week of the garbage can.

Come Tuesday, I'll defy printed instructions and see what happens. If that doesn't work, I may give the can a good kick.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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