Sunday, September 25, 2022

A Teaching Tale for a Sunday Night

Shortly before 7:00 this evening, I drove to City Hall to purchase trash bags from the machine. As I was parking, I witnessed a young couple swipe a card and enter their selection several times but leave disgruntled and bagless. Despite their experience, I was determined to try it for myself, but before I could fetch a card from my purse and exit the car, someone else stepped up the machine to try his luck. His experience was the same. He swiped his card and made his selection two or three times, but nothing happened. No pack of trash bags dropped into the tray. He too left unhappy, commenting to me as he left, "It's going to be a smelly week." 

Refusing to learn from the experience of others, I stepped up to the machine and swiped my card. I waited, and within a few seconds, the display indicated that my card had been approved and I should make my selection. I did as I was told, but nothing happened. After a bit, the display again indicated I should swipe my card, which I dutifully did, but again making my selection yielded nothing. 

I had an advantage over the people who had preceded me. I knew how to get in touch with DPW superintendent Rob Perry. With apologies for bothering him on a Sunday, I texted Perry, primarily to ask if there was a chance the machine would be fixed by morning, in time for me to get some trash bags before the garbage truck came by my house. After sending the text, I drove home.

Perry's house and mine are about equidistant from City Hall, albeit in opposite directions. To my surprise, by the time I got home, I had two texts from Perry. The first one, sent within seconds of my original text, suggested there was probably something already in the tray of the machine. The second one, received just as I entered my house, confirmed what he had suspected and provided a picture.

Perry speculated, "It looks like someone purchased a bag as a curiosity . . . opened it. Then, realizing they weren't going to use it, thought they'd be nice and put it back for the next customer." Unfortunately, what someone thought was a nice gesture prevented at least three Hudson residents from getting the trash bags they needed for the morning.

Lessons learned:
(1) Always check to make sure there is nothing in the tray before attempting to purchase trash bags. There is a sensor that does not allow a new purchase until the previous purchased has cleared, that is, until the bags have been removed from the machine.

(2) Don't wait until you are out of trash bags and it's the night before collection day to try to buy bags. 

I must admit that the second lesson is one I have yet to learn. I'll be at the trash bag vending machine first thing in the morning.


  1. Interesting. The same thing happened to me another time. Therefore, the City should post a sign on the machine "ALWAYS Check tray before inserting money" Dontcha think?

  2. No, signs are worthless, even signs identifying the machine's contents