Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Trash Can

Recently I took an inside look at the trash can because the pedal that pushed the lid open was no longer working. Being the perfect boyfriend that I am, I dropped everything I was doing and looked at it approximately 24 to 36 hours later.

Here's a pic of a similar trash can:

It's a nice design on the outside -- the usual trendy stainless steal deal in a cylindrical shape. Apart from the fact that you sometimes need two people to get the bag out of the can, we've always enjoyed it.

So I took the whole thing apart to see that it's a fairly simple mechanism that runs the whole thing. You step on the pedal and it twists and pushes a rod that in turn lifts the lid. The only problem is that the rod had a connection point where it went from the pedal to turn 90° and go up to the lid. And that connection point was made with a thin piece of plastic that I could have snapped easily between my thumb and index finger (being the tough guy that I am). The plastic piece was irreparable which rendered the entire pedal/lid mechanism dead.

I, beaten down and feeling useless, went back to my girlfriend to explain to her that the trash can we knew and loved for so many years had finally gone the way of all that trash that it had held for us. A sort of poetic justice, I explained. She just smiled. She's used to my absurdity.

Anyway, the lesson of the trash can was obvious: great design is only as strong as the behind-the-scenes mechanisms that hold it together and make it function.

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