Trash Talk

Curmudgeon’s Corner

My inaugural grievance is America’s continued sanitary slovenliness, even amidst the Covid contagion. Sure, many are again wearing masks and rubber gloves, while keeping six feet apart, but we remain blind to the most obvious germ traps.

Exhibit A:

The push lid trash receptacle. There are different varieties, all equally malodorous. Some have freely swinging doors through which you can lob debris in hit or miss fashion, while maintaining your distance. But some have hinges that are tighter than most bank vaults. To deposit your garbage, you must push hard, practically inserting your whole hand, so that all of the spilled soda, half-eaten food and assorted vermin that has attached itself to the trash can top is transferred to your skin. Who designed these trash bins in the first place and why on earth are they still in existence? They’re cesspools.

Chick-Fil-A has resolved the problem with a genius motion-sensored deposit door in their trash bins.

The door automatically opens when diners approach with debris, allowing touchless dumping. I’m sure these devices are not cheap and that’s probably why they have not caught on around the country. But if society cannot afford to replace all push lid trashcans, at least remove the push panel, so that we can toss junk into the hole without contact.

Apparently, open-holed lids are eschewed in some circles, because they attract vagrants, searching for bottles and cans to redeem. But must the rest of us be exposed to E.coli as a disincentive to homeless people looking for bottles to return?

How about those places that are so anxious to deter scavengers that they remove trash bins from their premises altogether? Ever needed to throw something away and been unable to find a single garbage can in sight? This often happens to me in retail and food plazas. Many of them keep the trash bins inside, although they know many customers eat outside. Sometimes, they even have tables outside for the customers to use. They want you to eat there, but don’t want to give you a place to toss your discarded bags when you’re through. I see that behavior as an invitation to litter. Do they expect me to take the empty Starbucks bag home? I want to dispose of it responsibly, but they have to be responsible and provide the receptacle.

The attitude seems to be: “We’re so paranoid that you’ll throw things you didn’t buy at our store into our trash cans, that we won’t let you throw away anything at all!” You know what people do when this happens? They leave the trash on the street.

My favorite culprit is the 10,000 square foot storage facility that doesn’t have one trash can on site. They cater to people with junk, after all. Still, they don’t want movers to dump stained mattresses, cardboard boxes and discarded packing materials on the premises, so they hide or lock up all the trash bins. Makes me want to abandon a pillowless old sofa on their doorstep.

The many faces of trash: the swarming flies, the surfaces slick with what you hope is Mountain Dew, the blackened gum residue. It’s biohazardous. How are we ever going to combat the Delta variant if we can’t safely toss an empty Slurpee cup?

Curmudgeon's Corner
Curmudgeon’s Corner

Not surprisingly, I was not a 60 Minutes fan as a kid, but I did tune in for the last 5 minutes to catch Andy Rooney. Even if I did not share his weekly gripe, his exasperated tone gratified me. There was a fellowship between us. He Not surprisingly, I was not a 60 Minutes fan as a kid, but I did tune in for the last 5 minutes to catch Andy Rooney. Even if I did not share his weekly gripe, his exasperated tone gratified me. There was a fellowship between us. He complained with no shame and not about monumental matters either. No, he railed against trivial annoyances that plague every day life and cause inordinate rage and frustration, even if we know they do not (at least should not) substantially impact our lives or even our day. He complained proudly, as a matter of entitlement and in a way I have not seen anyone do since his demise, save for Larry David. I am going to use this space to do the same.

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