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VALLEY MUSINGS: New and improved? Not so much

Donna Thompson
Sentinel columnist
Posted 10/16/22

My next-younger sister called to say she was heading to the store for a new light fixture. Was there anything I needed? “Could you look for a new gas can?” I asked.

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VALLEY MUSINGS: New and improved? Not so much


My next-younger sister called to say she was heading to the store for a new light fixture. Was there anything I needed?

“Could you look for a new gas can?” I asked. Normally I would have gone to pick one up myself, but my bum leg (my right one, naturally) was making it impossible for me to drive, so I needed all the help I could get. Our trusty old can disappeared when I loaned it to someone who never returned it. He may have had good intentions, but oh well.

In any case, we needed gas to fill the mowers and something to carry them in.

I’d been thinking about getting a secondary gas can since my sister’s new weed-whip mower arrived. The mower worked fine. It didn’t chew up belts like the old one had, and, even better, I could start the thing even though pull cords are not my specialty.

The only downside was that the new machine had an offset opening that made filling the gas tank challenging. I’d have my sister hold the funnel in place so it wouldn’t tip sideways while I was pouring. Perhaps a gas can with a spout would solve the problem.

My sister called from the store, and we discussed the choices and made a selection. She brought me a red plastic container with two pieces that were to make up the spout, zip-tied to the handle. My sister said, “They were all pretty much alike.”

After cutting the zip-ties to free the pieces, I turned my attention to the instructions that came with the product. Somehow, I wouldn’t have thought a gas can would have to come with instructions, but there they were, and since I didn’t know how this spout thing was supposed to work, I figured I’d better read them.

After skimming through the preliminaries, I found directions on how to pour gas, which I thought could have come after the part telling me how to put the spout together, but maybe that’s just me. In any case, I screwed the pieces together and twisted the thing onto the container.

A day or two later, we put the can into my sister’s vehicle, took sandwiches down to Little Falls, and ate a picnic lunch at Rotary Park while watching a Great Blue Heron work its way along the reeds on the far side of the waterway and the Canada geese that were swimming nearby. We stopped at a gas station on the way home and filled the new can.

Then there was the matter of filling the mowers.

The instructions said to push forward and then down on a red button in order to pour the gas out. I had my doubts about the whole thing since the bottom of the spout seemed to have a plug in it. Still, it moved when the button was pushed, and we didn’t have too much choice other than to give it a try.

I unscrewed the cap on the lawn tractor and hoisted the can. The only problem was that I was using both hands to hold and tip the container and didn’t have a free hand to press the button forward. I wound up tilting the can while my sister pushed the button and gas poured into the mower.

“This was not designed by a woman,” I said through gritted teeth.

We managed to fill the machines and get the mowing done, but while the gas can might be “new and improved,” I’d prefer my old, ugly and easy-to-use one any day.


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