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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.
Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:
One of my many flaws over the years involves becoming sentimental about inanimate objects. If something I’ve had for many years stops working, my first instinct is to figure out how to fix it so it can remain a part of the family.
The fact that my skill set does not even remotely involve using tools or fixing anything poses a significant obstacle to this, and more than likely, ends up with the item in question being dumped down in the basement. It is then my strategy turns to finding a friend who does know how to fix things and getting them to pay me a visit.
When all else fails, I then admit defeat and go buy a new one.
Such was the case with this trash can you see in the picture to the right. It’s a trash can with an automatic lid that opens when your hand goes over the sensor, then goes back down a few seconds later. We’ve had both it and its little brother – which resides in an upstairs bathroom – for nearly 20 years.
But three weeks ago, the lid stopped opening. My first inclination was it was time to change the batteries, so I put in 4 fresh “C” batteries. Nothing changed. I tried manually lifting the lid and closing it rapidly several times. Nothing. I even got out some paper towels and cleaner and scrubbed all of it, thinking maybe the area over the sensor had gotten dirty, or perhaps something had built up in the hinges, stopping everything from working.
Immediately my wife – who is known as Dr. Death by all our appliances – started searching for a new one. She ignored my resolution to repair the trash can much the same way a person might raise their eyebrows when you told them you had ordered a unicorn on Amazon. In her mind, the trash can had failed at its duties and now must be replaced. Immediately.
She quickly found one at Home Depot that seemed an exact replica of what we had, although it seemed a little pricey. I vaguely remember buying both the big and little trash can for $59 at Costco, and this one was close to $100. This brought on comments about it’s not 20 years ago, they don’t sell cell phones for $200 anymore, your hair isn’t black any more, and other rather mean statements to indicate the world might have changed since we last made such a purchase.
All also ended in “and I’m buying a new one.”
Fortunately for the little can I believed could, Home Depot was out of stock of this particular item. She gave them her email address so they would notify her the very second she could buy a new one, and in the interim, I said since it still holds trash, let’s keep using it and just manually lift the lid. Her reaction was similar to if I had said “we could save a lot of money if we ate dirt and only took a shower once a month,” but since there was no other alternative, she agreed.
Unbeknownst to her, every time I’d open the lid, I’d manually manipulate it up and down a few times, looking for any sign of life. After a few days, the little area where the sensor is started to show faint signs of red lights. This is the signal it gives when it is about to close. It turns green when it opens, but it was not showing even the slightest traces of green.
This went on for another week, but to no avail. Because of 20 years of force of habit, however, we both kept putting our hand over the sensor, expecting that somehow the lid would change its mind and open. When it did not, we manually raised the lid.
Friday, I admitted defeat, asking my wife if Home Depot had emailed us a response. When she said no, I suggested we look at other places that might sell such automatic trash cans. But I still kept working that lid as if I was trying to tell the can it was on death row, and needed to do something to encourage the filing of an appeal.
Sunday morning, as I always do, I got up at 7 AM to take Maggie the WonderBeagle outside. I have a fairly steady routine, letting Maggie out of her kennel, turning on the Electric Pot to boil water for coffee, then taking her out in the backyard for 10 or 15 minutes. When I come inside, I pour the hot water over coffee grounds into a Chemex, then pour the coffee into a coffee pot.
Once done, I throw the filter and coffee grounds into the trash can. As I approached the can, it did nothing. I manually lifted the lid and got rid of the coffee grounds. It was deader than the proverbial doornail.
But at 10:30, my wife said "there's been a development" in that voice all wives use when there's a problem, and told me I needed to come to the kitchen. Expecting some massive water leak or a dead mouse in the pantry, she simply said “look.” She ran her hand over the trash can, the sensor turned green, and the lid opened.
I have since been in there doing this about 50 times. It works. The “little trash can who could” heard me. The governor granted an appeal five minutes before midnight.
Since then, my wife has said several times we should buy a new one anyway because this situation isn’t going to last. But 24 hours have passed. It still works.
For the first time in 60 years, I said I’d fix something. And I actually did.
Even though I really didn’t do anything at all 😊