Walking along the street, what should I hear but a young gentleman, sounding slightly stroppy, saying, "What are ashtrays except small bins, anyway?"
I wouldn't like to speculate on what had particularly annoyed him in connection with ashtrays and bins, but I would like to say this.
Ashtrays are not bins, they are ashtrays.
Please, do not put your crisp packet in the ashtray, because then I have to remove it, in all of its greasy crinkliness, from the ashtray in order to stub out my cigarette. Acting as a recepticle for cigarettes and the associated ash is the main purpose, the raison d'etre if you like, of ashtrays.
Please, do not put paper in the ashtray, and that includes tissue paper-like serviettes (another word that I hate, but hardly worth a post on its own), because they will burn. And nasty as my cigarette smells, that cheap paper will smell worse when its burning.
Ashtrays, as the name implies, are for ash and, as it happens, cigarettes. Not paper. Paper goes into a bin. That's why ashtrays are not, actually, bins.
P.S. The street is not a bin either.
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