Garbage Cans and Chamomile

I don’t have a smart speaker. My TV is not stupid, but it’s old enough that it can’t listen to me. I’ve turned off all the things on all my devices for maximum privacy protection. I’ve turned on all the things on my devices for maximum privacy protection. My car is a 2007, so Russian hackers can’t apply my brakes from their phones just for fun.

But I do own a smart garbage can. And I love my smart garbage can. When I wave my hand in front of it, it opens. So cool. Then 5 seconds later, it closes by itself. So cool. I literally never have to touch my garbage can except to change the liner, which means I never have to touch my actual garbage. And I have cats. And cats are gross.

But recently I got busy and forgot to change the liner and my garbage can got full and stayed that way for a few days. I suppose a more advanced garbage can might have a feature where it says, “Time to empty me” when it gets too full, but if it did that then I’m afraid it might also be listening to me or somehow collecting data on what I throw away and sending it to Google. Or automatically order new liners when I run low. I don’t know if the internet of things includes garbage cans yet but I’ll stick with my medium tech Model DZT-13, thanks. Smart, but not Einstein for crap’s sake.

Because my smart garbage can got too full, I had to remove the top part containing the open/close sensor and clean it. I may have been too thorough, however. When I replaced the lid and plugged it in and turned it on, it refused to respond at all, but then suddenly it started opening and closing unprompted in a “Danger Will Robinson” kind of way. I’ll admit it was a little creepy. So I contacted the company.

I am old enough that the irony of having a Customer Support Department for my garbage can was a source of amusement. I told my wife, “Hey, I just heard back from the Garbage Can Support Department”. She’s just younger enough than me that she didn’t get why that was so funny.

The company got back to me via email and recommended I perform a very long, complicated series of steps to reset the sensor in my garbage can lid. The whole process can take as long as 15 hours and is comprised of 5 sessions where you place the can in a dark spot out of direct sunlight, wipe off the sensor, plug it in, turn it on and see if it works—if it doesn’t, wait 3 hours, repeat steps 1-5. Do that 5 times = 15 hours. That’s really 2 days when you consider bathroom and food breaks and other life things. I’m on Day 2, session four.

Progress report:

Session One: It did absolutely nothing when I plugged it in and turned it on. I assumed I had killed it.

Session Two: A little red light blinked twice and it opened when I pushed the Open button and closed when I pushed the Close button but when I waved my hand in front of the sensor, it ignored me. I admit to taking that personally, just a bit.

Session Three: See Session Two. Still no response from the sensor but better than “Danger Will Robinson”.

I’ll try again at around 12:00 p.m. PST.

If after Session 5, my garbage can is still not sensing my presence, so I’ll probably have to order a replacement lid for $39.95 because my garbage can is out of warranty. Yes, my garbage can has a warranty. Maybe I should have considered the extended warranty when I bought it but I’ve never been a person who buys extended warranties—never for cars, certainly not for containers I use for disposing paper towel-soaked cat yarf.

I like the fact that I can avoid direct contact with the stuff that I dispose of a daily basis. But I’m not a germaphobe. I believe our immune systems benefit by being exposed to the world around us. I don’t use gloves in the garden and I encourage my 20 month-old granddaughter to make mud pies and pick up feathers off the ground, like I did when I was kid and still do occasionally. The other day she walked into a pasture and just laid down in a big bed of chamomile flowers. There was a part of me that thought, “oh god, I wonder what’s pooped there?” But then I thought, “Perfect”. She picked some chamomile flowers and said, “For you, Grandpa.”


Session Four: I just tried steps 1-5 again. No joy. I probably looked like an idiot waving my hands over my lobotomized garbage can like a magician trying to make a dove appear out of a top hat. Thank god there was no one around…I’m pretty sure.

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