Life Storytelling

The Singing Trash Can

I’d stopped at an intersection when I heard a whistling song blowing in the wind

I feel a little buzz on my wrist and ignore it. It’s my hybrid smartwatch, reminding me to move. It has a point, I should, but I keep on working, hunched over my laptop, eyes dry.

Wednesday, I finally make it out for a walk. It’s April and there appears to be no end to winter. It’s stopped snowing for a few hours – cue my timing for a walk – and the sky is blue. I wander past new construction sites and jogging dogs.

My watch gives me another buzz, and I know it’s congratulating me for getting up. Here I am, walking with a personal trainer on my wrist, like a pirate with a parrot on her shoulder. Occasionally, my watch goes quiet and I remember I forgot to feed it. My boss has the same watch and she told me that she loses interest in walking the very second the battery runs out and it stops tracking steps.

I’ve stopped at an intersection of park paths and I’m wondering what to do next, when I hear a whistling kind of song blowing towards me in the wind. It sounds lonely in the harsh, cold weather, and also strangely confident. Like the national anthem of a long-lost land, a tune that no one remembers anymore.

I look around. Could it be? Why yes, it seems to be coming from the large, dark grey, bulky object right next to me: the trash can. How weird that it was designed to do this. Or was it perhaps not intentional at all, and just a quirky design flaw? Do they even know – am I the only one hearing this song?

My mind is still pondering which way to turn, when the trash can voices its opinion.

Oooooo-ooooooo-ooooh, it sings, as the wind blows through it.

To the right then?


Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me. I say my goodbyes to the song and decide to turn back. The wind keeps me company, though I wish it wouldn’t. I think of the animate sewer that I read of, the one that randomly broadcasted airport announcements in a quiet neighbourhood. It was an art installment involving a hidden recording device.

I also think of one of my favourite childhood books from the Little Golden Book series, where Donald Duck housesits for Uncle Scrooge. Poor Donald winds up getting in all sorts of trouble, because he has no idea how to operate Uncle Scrooge’s fancy robot butler, enthusiastic lawnmower, and other gadgets that come to life all at once.

I keep on walking and my watch buzzes excitedly. 10 floors! Okay, my little friend, you’re getting a bit over the top now: I still haven’t climbed any floors at all today, but thank you anyway for the congratulations. I must admit it does feel encouraging, in a weird way.

Is it a happy or a sad day, when objects start talking to you? Or does the trouble only begin when you starting talking back to them?!


37 replies on “The Singing Trash Can”

This is beautifully written! I know it’s not meant this way, but I can’t help getting a bit sad when reading it, It sounds… lonely, kind of bleak, the cold wind, decisions made by gadgets, encouragements coming from watches. The last living person on earth. Well, again, it’s not meant this way, but your wonderful piece did provoke this association. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

Yes, perhaps that’s what it is, and also the line about your boss losing interest in walking the minute the battery of her watch dies. Like all ideally intrinsic motivation being transfered to an apperatus. I’ve got relatives owning a watch that tells them how they have slept. They literally let the watch decide wether they are still tired or not. But, no, this is all far to dystopian. Better cherisch the wonderful image of the singing trash can. 🙂

Liked by 1 person

I don’t mind if electronics talk to me – it spares me having to read the oh-so-tiny displays and text. I like when tech enhances tasks that I’d do myself. I worry though, when tech eplaces human interaction. It’s ok (& kinda wonderful) if you talk back to command your device to do something. If you talk back to converse … then that is sad.

Liked by 1 person

I’d much rather hear a singing trash can than any supposedly helpful message from a smart phone or the like. As for talking to objects, I’ve done that my whole life. Please don’t tell the authorities!

Liked by 1 person

I am kind of digesting your post, it´s funny, but I think sometimes when we are alone, we try to notice d too much things…even things that are not notieceable.You´ve made me thought about German Trash cans…I don´t wanna talk to them and they don´t wanna talk to me either! But everyday, I say hello to drop something ! That´s how I can describe my relationship with them..!:-))

My watch doesn´t bother me that much yet.But the running app in my phone really do. The moment I haven´t run for a week then it sends me creepy messages like ” Cristina, pls take care of your health…check the running up now and move..” It´s crazy.

Liked by 1 person

Good point about being alone! Sometimes it’s nice to be in silence and pay attention to your surroundings. But sometimes it can get over-analytical! Oh, and those reminders can be so buggy, I agree! 😆 In any case, I’d rather talk to my watch than to a trash can! 😆

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.