“A place for everything, and everything in its place” has been my motto for most of my life.
I’m not one of those guys who loses his keys easily. They’re either in my left front pocket, or they’re sitting in a rather specific spot near the edge of my dresser.
I’m equally unlikely to lose my mobile phone, which is in one of three places: my front right pocket, sitting in front of the keyboard at my desk or charging next to my bed.
My sock drawer has been sorted the same way since I was 18.
All of this is to say that when something works, I’m not prone to change for change’s sake.
So when my wife told me she turned our garbage cans 90 degrees counterclockwise, well, I might’ve overreacted a little bit.
Our house has a lot of odd nooks and crannies in it, with angles cutting out that I’m sure someone loved when they designed it. We’ve merely learned to adapt to them.
When we first moved into the house, there was a little corner behind the side wall of the pantry in our kitchen, next to a door to the garage.
We looked at it and immediately realized, “OK, this must be where the garbage can and recycling container goes.”
Indeed, it is where that garbage can and recycling container went for the past 14 years. With the backs of those containers against that wall and the side of the recycling against the wall separating the kitchen from the garage, it worked.
Well, mostly. A crack in the system developed when we picked up a garbage can with a foot pedal to open the top. You had to walk around the corner past the pantry to open it, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.
As happens in this world, that garbage can hit the end of its life cycle, and we splurged on a pair of matching stainless steel receptacles with foot pedals, one for the trash and one for the recycling. It arrived on Monday.
The kids were so excited about it, they opened it up and had the cans sitting on a table in the kitchen when we came home. What can I say, summers can be so exciting for kids.
Anyway, my wife went about moving the new cans where our old ones went. Inspiration struck her: What if she put the backs of the cans to the wall with the garage? What if you didn’t have to walk all the way around that small corner but instead could just walk straight to the cans.
I don’t like to cheapen words like genius, but that’s what it was. We ended up with a little more space to walk toward the garage door. The garbage was less noticeable from the kitchen. It’s easier to get to it. It’s just, well, better.
Every so often you have to flaunt tradition and try something new. There are often better solutions to old problems. We had that realization when we stopped trying to put our living room television on a TV center and instead hung it on the wall above our fireplace.
These aren’t necessarily life-changing experiences. But if you can make your own life easier just by taking a step back and re-evaluating the way you’ve always done it, how many other problems could you solve? What else can you fix by just rotating the proverbial trash cans in your life by 90 degrees?
Sometimes all you have to do is change your perspective.