My family goes through a few – OK, more than a few – aluminum cans. And even though we’ve always recycled and attempted to condense the cans the barehanded way, surplus metal was impacting our recycle bin in an overflowing manner. When the excess wouldn’t fit into the bin, the bags started piling up in the garage. I knew we were at a crossroads.
I was not a contributor to the pile-up. I don’t drink carbonated beverages. But that fact had nothing to do with the issue confronting us. Even though I didn’t create the problem, it obviously was mine to solve. I knew we could do one of two things: quit using aluminum cans or find a better way to compress them.
I choose door number two and fulfilled my destiny by ordering an industrial strength can crusher.
The tool arrived and sat in its box on the kitchen table for a couple of days. I was busy with other things. Besides, usually any household task requiring the word installation falls under my husband’s authority.
On day two after crusher’s arrival, son number three removed it from its box and promptly lost or tossed the installation instructions. (We’ll never know which.) The next day, my observant husband spied the crusher.
I was right in the middle of making dinner – browning hamburger on the stove for chili. But matter that not! We had a crusher to install, and everyone knows there’s no time like the present. Besides, installation trumps supper prep any day of the week.
My husband’s first choice of location for the crushing station was in the garage, next to the doorway leading into the house. He showed me the spot. Good choice. Approval granted. I went back to my ground beef.
Less than a minute later he called my name. I begrudgingly left the half-browned meat to join him and his newest dilemma. He didn’t disappoint.
My stud hadn’t been able to find a wall stud, which hindered him from initiating the installation. He pointed to the half dozen empty nail holes in the garage sheetrock to prove his point.
Then he suggested an alternate location for the installation: the wall on the opposite side of the garage. How about over there?
I shook my head. I know my boys and as much as I anticipated them embracing the act of annihilating aluminum cans in a crusher, I knew the act had to be convenient. They weren’t going to take 10 extra steps to walk all the way across the garage just to crush a can. I’m not being cruel, only honest.
My husband agreed. Occasionally that happens between the two of us. Hamburger on hold and priorities in order, we explored our options. I decided to think outside the box – or in this case, garage.
We went inside, to the stair landing that leads to our basement. There was a spot on the wall that would work. My husband’s enthusiasm was reinvigorated. He embraced the new location.
I returned to dinner prep – for approximately three seconds. Then I was summoned. Again.
I took a deep breath because sometimes after lots of years of marriage you understand taking a deep breath beats the alternative. For his part, my husband has taken many deep breaths over the years.
I approached the basement landing to see him holding the crusher to the wall. Could I fetch him a pencil? He needed one to mark the spots where the screws would go.
After the spots were marked and the screws were drilled in place, it was time for the fun stuff. Finally! My guys spent the next 30 minutes crushing it with an eagerness typically reserved for sporting events.
At one point, son number one came into the kitchen where supper prep was still underway. He was smiling and had a notable skip in his step. “Did you see?” he asked. “Dad got us a can crusher!”
I nodded, took a deep breath and gave another stir to the chili.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.