In my kitchen.
Yesterday, Mike hit Costco on his way home from work. That can be a very dangerous thing. For a while, he was in the habit of bringing home large quantities of food items with a limited shelf life. Being a family of two with no kids (and pets that eat pet food), we usually wind up throwing away huge, unopened cans and bottles of things he bought the previous year to make room for incoming items.
To his credit, he doesn’t do that much anymore. Like me, I think he realizes the amount of waste involved. Unlike me, however, he still doesn’t understand that if you buy an item on sale at the local Safeway supermarket, it’s going to be cheaper than buying it at Costco. Best of all, you don’t have to buy enough to feed the high school football team.
Yesterday, he picked up the shop rags I’d asked him to buy the next time he was at Costco. You might be familiar with these “rags.” They’re really paper towels, blue, soft, and absorbent. I like to keep a roll under the seat in the helicopter to wipe up drips and spills or clean the bubble when I’m away from the hangar. Costco sells them 8 or 10 rolls in a pack and that can easily last me a year. Best of all, they don’t go bad. I store them in the hangar.
But he did come home with an oddity that he set up and put in place while I was still hard at work on chapter 4. [Yes, Cliff, I'm still working. But it's only 5:25 AM and my eyes are barely open. Not open enough to write about Leopard. I'll be at my desk at 6 AM. I promise. I'm shooting for two more chapters today.] He alluded to it during dinner (which he cooked because I’m so busy with the book), saying that he got me a surprise and that I’d find it.
I found it when I was finished for the day, which was around 7:30 PM. I had some miscellaneous papers in my hand and was delivering them to the tall kitchen can when I stopped short. The old garbage pail was gone. A sleek new one with lights on its cover had taken its place.
“I found the surprise,” I called up the stairs to him. “How does it work?”
I did feel pretty stupid asking how a garbage pail works.
“Just put your hand by its top,” he called back.
I followed his instructions. The device made a short whirring sound and the lid opened wide. Afraid it would close again, I quickly threw the trash in. A moment later, another whirr and it closed.
“We really needed this?” I called up.
The truth is, he wanted one. He’s been wanting a step-on can for the kitchen for years, but the ones he’s interested in are in the $100 to $250 range. For a garbage can. There’s no way I was going to let him pay that kind of money for something we throw garbage into.
But let him loose alone in Costco and you never know what might happen.
To be fair, the new garbage pail does look nice in our kitchen. Its brushed stainless steel, which is also the finish on our fridge and dishwasher face. The black cover goes nicely with the black oven and microwave directly across from where it sits and the black countertop appliances.
And it works well. Well, perhaps too well. The damn thing whirs open every time I walk past it. (Another reason to get back on that diet — so I can slip undetected past my garbage pail’s infrared sensors.)
But in reality, this is just another example of wasteful consumerism. We took a perfectly functioning 13-gallon plastic garbage pail with a lid and moved it from where it was being used (the kitchen) to where it would not be used (the garage). We moved in a replacement with multiple moving parts and a motor that requires batteries to operate. So what if the old one was ten years old? It was in perfect condition and kept clean. No one saw that it didn’t match the kitchen — hell, everyone who comes to visit us thinks we keep trash under the sink — is that what most people do?
So we bought something we didn’t need with features that will make us consume more to maintain it. Sheesh.
The final question remains: where was it made? Where do you think?
I guess that’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’ll be broken within 3 years. Then we can put it in the garage and pull the old one out of exile and back into active duty.