Household Note:
Wastebaskets
11 June 2019

¶ Wastebaskets ought to be empty. That was my rule. It was a simplification of “wastebaskets ought to be (kept) emptied.” No need to empty them, though, if they’ve never got anything in them. One fewer little job. 

Why, then, have wastebaskets at all? Well, in case. In case of an emergency that can be met only by wastebaskets — empty wastebaskets. 

How long had this been going on? 

Never mind: put down another big change for 2019. During my convalescence from the foot infection, I had no choice. Tissues, banana peels, Q-tips and the Business Reply cards that drop, unwelcome, from the latest magazines, not only went into the wastebasket by my reading chair but kept filling it up. By the time I got better, I had the new habit of emptying the wastebasket into Fairway shopping bags.

This softened the ground for the wastebasket by the house desk. The new wastebasket, by the newly-positioned house desk. Now, the house desk is the smallest of the three writing tables in the apartment. There is no room on it, when sorting through the mail, for discardable mailings or for empty envelopes. Life is too short to put such rubbish on top of other things and risk throwing good stuff away. There must be a receptacle (handsome but not cute) into which one’s left hand can immediately dump unwanted items. Dump, dump, dump. By the end of an hour or so (the usual tour of duty at the house desk), the wastebasket is full, but emptying it is easy, because the kitchen, with its supply of shopping bags, is right there.

I’ve even begun to use the wastebasket in the bookroom. This rectangular bucket belonged to my parents. It has a tin liner that’s not so easy to slide out from the wooden case, especially when it’s full, and its long and narrow dimensions don’t readily fit into the shapeless and somewhat too-small mouth of a plastic bag. So I don’t wait for it to fill up. I empty it along with the other two, and take all three bags down to the garbage chute together.

Taking out the garbage yesterday, I walked just a little too far and nearly tried to open the door to the apartment that opens just beyond the garbage-chute door. How awful it would have been to rattle the knob unthinkingly, and then to wonder if anybody was inside! I could see myself being sent off for dementia counseling.

My reward for using the blasted wastebaskets. 

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