Squished cans and other quirky habits
Do you ever find yourself doing something you perceive to be silly, pointless or strange?
There are a few things I do that cause me to shake my head in wonder. Actually, let’s face it, there are probably more than a few things. But a few things in particular make me shake my head and almost wonder aloud why I do them. In fact, I did one of these things last week and did say out loud, “why do you still do that?” I was in the midst of preparing dinner for my family and had opened a can of green beans. After dumping the contents in the pan, I placed the jagged-edged circle that had been removed by the can opener inside the can, then squished the can and set it on the counter. I asked the purpose aloud and then stopped and just stared at the deformed can.
Then, I smiled to myself.
I shook my head again and, still smiling, picked up the can and took it out to the recycle bin. I remembered how I started squishing the cans in my youth, after asking my dad why he did so each time he opened a can of something to go with our meals. (Yes, my dad was the cook in our family)! He had explained to me that with the edge of the cut-off lid being so sharp and dangerous, squishing the can caused the lid to be stuck inside. “That way, it can’t come out and hurt anyone by cutting them,” he had said. It made sense. And so I started to do the same thing. The habit stuck. When I caught myself doing it last week, I smiled at the memory; at the fact that I do something that caused me to recall so clearly a particular time spent in the kitchen with my dad.
And, for that very reason, I vowed to keep doing it.
It doesn’t matter that I take all cans I may open straight to the recycle bin and have no worries about the kids digging through the remnants in there and being hurt by jagged metal. It doesn’t matter that I assume – possibly incorrectly – that those who work at recycling establishments use appropriate equipment and wear personal protective items to prevent any such injuries from happening.
What matters is the memory. And the connection it invokes.
This caused me to start thinking about other things I do that are similar. Like the sprinkle of salt I add to the grounds in my coffee filter each morning. A quick Google search revealed that it is a practice that is known to reduce the bitterness in brewed coffee. That is exactly the reason my grandmother told me she added the sprinkle to the grounds she scooped into her percolator when I would help her make coffee and tea during family gatherings. I started to do it at home when I would prepare coffee for my parents after dinner or in the morning before they woke up. It is another habit that has stuck with me – and when I sprinkle that salt each day, I can almost smell the warm aroma of my grandparents’ kitchen.
I miss those people and those moments. And these small, seemingly-quirky habits bring them close to me, if only for a fleeting moment, and honours those moments that gained a specialness despite their everyday simplicity.
Do you have any similar habits? What different or unusual things do you do that reminds you of your loved ones, whether or not they are still physically present in your life?
If there is something, DON’T STOP DOING IT. If there isn’t something, is there something you can think of that you can start doing that would cause you to smile a knowing smile and honour a special person or moment?