Trashcart chronicles

solid waste“Put a brick on it.” That was the on-the-spot advice. It was a collection slide day and it all happened before our very eyes. Somehow, the cart was grabbed the wrong way by the lift on the truck. When it came down, one side of the cart bulged way out to a point, the cover was crooked and warped, and the cylindrical push-handle had been pinched and crushed to a fare-thee-well. I caught up with the truck, and apologies were offered and accepted. The illustration here is the top part of a 15-point checklist. Altering the cart is not among the apologies offered and, in fact, this list is more a list telling people what they did wrong in the way they set out their trash or what trash they set out. I think it’s funny that this is item 11 on the checklist: “Seal loose animal waste and cat litter in bags to control odor.” There is no equivalent instruction for disposable diapers.

The guys handed this out for the telephone number, which of course dumps right to the fabulous 3-1-1, where the people are nice but are there merely as intermediaries. I thought we’d need a new cart; the promise was that sometime during the next two collection days (meaning next two weeks) someone would come by to “repair” the damage and the instruction was to leave the cart at the curb. I thought that repair would be impossible and that the useful life of the cart was over. The cover that didn’t cover, and couldn’t, because of the misshapen container, was the problem. We see raccoons, opossums, and gray foxes frequently, and, even in daylight, the same goes these days for roof rats fleeing demolitions. So we didn’t want to wait.

Before the next collection, one day we noticed that the side of the cart no longer bulged way, way out. It seemed to have been knocked back inward, judging by what appeared to be mallet marks, although not enough for the cover to fit. On collection day, we arrived home to find the cart, still our cart and not a new one, was, astonishingly, useful and creature-proof once more. The side had been pushed in even more, the handle had been pinched from another direction so that the crushed part was barely evident, and I think that the cover itself had been replaced, although perhaps it, too, had been reformed to its original shape.

The cart in question is just about two years old now (see trashcart blues, part one, and trashcart blues, part two). We’ve been renting it for $7.50 per month. I wonder at what cost the City buys these and how much labor was invested in returning this particular 2-year-old item to animal-resistant use.

3 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 8:43 am

    I had an animal actually bite a hole in the lid and the can (we were away and left some meat insufficiently secured in it). They actually replaced the lid only the first time, so I know it’s possible. Of course, in my case, that wasn’t sufficient – but after about six weeks total, we got a brand new old can.

    These things have to be incredibly solid. Got to be hundreds of dollars to buy.

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 9:46 am

    Raccoons can get into anything with a simple lift top, and rats will gnaw and gnaw. No doubt buried somewhere in a bulk purchasing contract lies the answer of cost. I was curious myself and found a 50-gallon Rubbermaid-branc (not Totes) sold individually for $109 (wheels, lift bar, cover, very similar in appearance). My guess is that the most expensive part is the sturdiest one: the metal rail grabbed by the lift when all is positioned properly. On this two-year-old item, we’ve had one hubcap replacement and one wheel replacement (or perhaps two). In any case, they’re certainly astonishly more durable than the old non-wheeled galvanized cans without wheels and, because of the wheels and the lighter weight, easier on those who fill them and on those who empty them.

  3. ttrentham (unregistered) on January 16th, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

    The metal bar bent and nearly broke on our brown can (the largest). They came out and fixed it instead of replacing the can. We’ve been on the same one for at least 7 years.

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