Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Dumpster Dive

Sometimes when working with students in higher education you must engage in team building activities. We use them to get to know students better and to help students get to know one another. Every once in a while I participate in an icebreaker called, "I never." The purpose of the activity is to have each person contribute one, "I never" statement (I never... went scuba diving. I never... ate a peanut. Both are true, by the way). Someone then reads each statement aloud, while the rest of the group tries to determine to whom it belongs.

Thanks to my mom, I've always been able to offer up the one, "I never" statement that left everyone talking for hours afterward. Here it is... I never... have seen my mother in a pair of pants or shorts! It's true. I have NEVER - as in... not one second, of one minute, of one hour, of one day, of one month, of one year, in forty-two - have seen my mother in anything but a skirt or dress.

Yesterday my mom added another to the list. My mother has never... disposed of an Altoid Container. Now, I'm not exactly sure how many she has, but... she has NEVER thrown one away. I did not know this about her. Yesterday afternoon we were talking on the phone about my theme for this week's blog. When I told her it was about creative uses for what others might consider trash, she chimed in, "Oh, I have a great one for you." It was then she revealed her obsession with the perfectly-sized, sturdy, and practical tin in which Altoids are packaged.

At that moment the subject of today's whack was born. Empty Altoid Containers. What possible uses could there be for an empty Altoid container? My mother said the only thing she could think to do is... stack them on top of one another, drill a hole through them, wire it, add a funky shade, and turn it into a fun lamp. It is safe to say... that would NEVER have occurred to me... which begs the question... why am I the one hosting this blog and not my mom?

But she's not and I am, so instead... I'll resort to some back up from my friend von Oech and his Whack Pack. Now for the "whack."

See the Obvious. "Only the most foolish of mice would hide in a cat's ear," says designer Scott Love, "but only the wisest of cats would think to look there." Don't miss the obvious. What are you overlooking?" What's the most obvious thing you can do? What resources and solutions are right in front of you?

The obvious? The most obvious thing I can think of is continuing its use as a container. It held mints and mints make me think of money. Hmmm... the more I look, the more convinced I am it is the perfect size to hold a gift card (I just checked and bingo, I was right). Ok. I could use the Altoid container as a gift card holder, wrapping it with ribbon, and attaching a note stating, "You're worth a mint." or "Enjoy the mint."

Along the same lines... I could use it to hold change. Hmmm.... maybe I could begin filling them with quarters, so that by the time Ricky heads off to college (4 years), he has a "small mint."

It's made of tin and is the front is nicely framed in red with gold trim. A little less obvious... but I wonder if I (code for my husband) could remove (code for use one of his million tools) the white portion of the cover - the part that bears the logo. I would be left with a tin box, with a hole in the top, but framed with a pretty red and gold trim. Once that part was done, I could add a photograph to the top and a magnet to the bottom. It could still be used to hold things, but instead I could attach the box- made photo frame - to my refrigerator.

That's my whack at it. Now your turn. Hey, if someone comes up with something compelling, my mom has offered to send you the whole lot of them for experimenting.

Wait... one more. I just read today's entry to Richard and he wants to add one to the list. How about a candle? A peppermint smelling candle. His favorite part... close the top to snuff it out.

I never... will get my kids off to school if I don't sign off...NOW!

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