Hidbin - a reminder of Celtic Tiger stupidity

Yesterday I received a newsletter from our garbage company that contained a small item about a new product they were offering for sale: a hidbin. The hidbin is basically a fake bush front & top for your garbage can.

Later on, each time the image of the hidbin popped into my head I chuckled to myself. Were there really people out there who were so embarrassed by the fact that they had a garbage can (in Ireland, your "bin" is your trash can, so hidden bin or hidbin. See?) that they felt they needed to pay $128 (€99) to surround it in fake, plastic bush leaves?

Today when I thought about it again I thought to myself, well, back before 2007, during the Celtic Tiger years, lots of people would probably have bought hidbins. To my mind this is just the kind of silly item that people were prepared to pay for during those days when the nation took leave of its senses.

When I first came to Ireland I used to get a lot of good-natured ribbing from people here about some of the things Americans would spend money on. When they spoke of dishwashers and clothes dryers - things that were only then becoming the norm in Ireland - they were clearly speaking about items that they'd love to own themselves.

However, I remember in the mid-90s listening to a woman on the radio here talking about her daughter who was in America as if the daughter was now a member of an alien species. Her daughter had been waxing lyrical to her Irish mother (in her mid to late 50s, I guessed) about her bread-maker and how she couldn't live without it.

The woman explained how she'd reminded her daughter that she had taught her how to make bread when she was 7 or 8 years old and what possible need could there be for her to own a bread-maker now? Each time she said the word bread-maker her tone conveyed equal amounts of scorn and disbelief, as if only a fool wool would spend money on such a thing.

Yet, not long after that interview I saw bread-makers for sale here. To be honest I don't really have much of a problem with bread-makers, although I'm pretty certain families can survive without them seeing as my wife and I have never owned one.

I guess the hidbin is to me what the bread-maker was to that woman 15 or so years ago - a complete waste of money, something you can easily live without. If this were 2005 or so I'd feel the same way, but I'd also be pretty sure that hidbin would be a winner with homeowners because, well, everything seemed to be a winner with them then. Back then Irish homeowners spent money on all sorts of ridiculour things and I see no reason to assume a hidbin would not have been a 'must have'.

Today, however, I'm not so sure, although I imagine that some people will buy one.

Believe me I'm not knocking the people behind the company because I admire entrepreneurs. If they can sell these things and make a profit and a successful business for themselves, I'll tip my cap to them. However, that won't stop me laughing at anyone whose trash can I see surrounded by a plastic bush.

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