News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2005
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TOM WRIGHT

It's the foul weather, stupid

Two out of three isn't a bad success rate, if you are talking baseball hits and basketball shooting percentages.

For our garbage can lid, however, I'm still debating if I followed good advice in turning the can with the lid hinge facing the street for pickup.

For three weeks, since a helpful person at Public Works gave me a tip on can placement, I've watched the sanitation guy use a robot arm to grasp the plastic can from inside the truck, hoist it over the side and dump. The sight is a high-tech marvel when it works.

We've been plagued with the top not shutting after the can emptied. I explained to Public Works that I followed directions and left the can with the arrows pointing to the street when it was to be emptied.

The plastic cans apparently outlasted the original equipment used to empty them and for some of us, the lid never closes.

Turn the can around with the arrows pointing away from the street, Public Works advised. That worked fine the first week. It also worked for the readers who were having that problem, and who picked up the Heloise-type hint here.

People e-mailed, called and stopped me on the street to say thanks for helping them solve our common problem.

I was feeling good about the second week as I watched from the window as the can went into the air. The lid swung back, swayed a bit with the motion and the can came down hard ... with the lid open.

Wednesday of the third week, I turned the can sideways. Call it an experiment.

I watched again as the can turned upside down, emptied and came back to the street with the lid shut.

I've still got to place the can with the other side to the street to see if the lid closes. I may even set it at an angle to see how that works, although the mechanical arm might not like that position.

In the meanwhile, I'm left trying to figure out the dynamics of can positioning. Preliminary findings point to the weather. On sunny days, the lid closes; on rainy days, it stays open.

The gods are at work.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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