Moments ago, I unloaded the dishwasher. If you have a dishwasher, you may or may not feel the same way I do, and if you don’t, after reading this you’ll likely think I’m a spoiled jackass (if you hadn’t already).
The short story is, I don’t like unloading the dishwasher and putting the dishes away. In fact, I dislike it so much I decided it was worth mentioning. Again, if you’re in the “have dishwasher” group, you know I’m talking about a two-minute activity, one that requires little effort or strength and virtually no skill.
I get that.
I also know that in the scheme of household tasks (or “chores” as we used to call them back when we lived in cabins deep in the woods or shotgun shacks on the open prairie), putting away clean dishes isn’t challenging, stressful or difficult, even in a modern world where most of us don’t routinely kill our dinners, scrub floors on our hands and knees or wring out our clothes by hand.
Yet, I don’t like it, almost as much as I dislike the oft-used and cliched phrase “first-world problems,” of which this is one. “So, Dave,” you might be asking, “what is it you don’t like about emptying the dishwasher, and how did this all evolve?” For those of you who don’t have dishwashers and still abide by the “You wash, I’ll dry” method, yours likely isn’t a question at all, but a comment about me that lands comfortably between derogatory and offensive (albeit justified), so I’ll spare us all on what those comments might look and sound like.
Cutting to the chase, if I were to dive into the complexities of this issue, it comes down to two things: 1) an uncooperative cabinet and 2) flatware. Without laying bare too many ugly family secrets (most having to do with the uncooperative cabinet, and all “ugly secrets” owned and operated by yours truly), indulge me as I provide background.
ASIDE: By now, you’re likely wondering why you’re still reading along. And even though I haven’t written the follow section yet, I can tell you with relative confidence this piece will not get more exciting, so if you have anything better to do (or simply “anything” to do), I’d suggest tapping out now and cutting your losses. However, should you choose to hang in there to the bitter end, well at least there will be two of us. Back to our story …
This cabinet, which resides under our kitchen countertop, is home to various bowls, containers, cutting boards and colanders. (Correction, “colander” since we have no need for multiple straining devices). As a cabinet, it’s fine. And the various bowls, containers, etc. are all fine as well. It’s just the marriage of this cabinet with its contents is, for lack of a better term, contentious and often unhealthy. In short, they fight a lot, with containers anywhere and everywhere, not neatly stacked, colanders and such being pushed to the back, making them difficult to access, etc.
For its part, the cabinet itself isn’t to blame; it just sits there, doing nothing, while its inhabitants walk all over it, doing what they want, whenever they want. As the curator of this relationship, that means it’s my problem. I need to be the adult in this relationship, the one to make sure everything is organized and properly stacked, with all lids accounted for; “a place for everything and everything in its place” (and all that jazz).
But given its location (which causes me to reach and sometimes, get down on my knees), my commitment to order and propriety is often compromised. I begin with good intentions, stacking one or two glass containers and arranging them neatly. But then, a large plastic bowl appears on the scene, a bully threatening the integrity of the process. That bowl (which gets infrequent use) gets tossed to the back of the cabinet, along with the colander and its unruly handle.
After that, things deteriorate further, to the point where I begin haphazardly stashing items willy-nilly into the cabinet, the old goal (organized and properly stacked) devolving into “Just get it all in there so the door closes” (rarely a good option).
Of course, I succeed, but it also immediately sets a trap for the next time I need a bowl, container, cutting board or colander. (I’m often my own worst enemy.)
As for the flatware, that’s simply 30 seconds of hell for me. It’s all sticking up, like a bumper crop of metal, daring me to move quickly (which I do) as I pick up each piece, often causing minor pokes and cuts (again, I’m my own worst enemy), my impatience resulting in a massive, random handful of forks, knives and spoons that I now have to neatly stack and fit into their specific compartments – their little flatware beds -- according to function.
Again, first-world problems, yet so aggravating for me.
Don’t think I’ve lost track of the upsides of having a dishwasher. I love the fact that we don’t have dishes soaking in the sink. I also appreciate that we don’t have to take the old-school “wash/rinse/dry” approach.
And I’m fully aware that my issues aren’t with the dishwasher, the cabinets, the colander or even the flatware. They all reside “in here” (points to his head) and “in here” (points to his heart; probably too dramatic for something so trivial). It’s me, as it usually is, that causes all these minor, stupid first-world problems, and along with them, the anxiety, the impatience and the dread for such mundane things.
Ask my mom – who’s never had a dishwasher in her life – if she thinks I’m a spoiled jackass. She’ll say no, but only because she’s my mom. But she’ll probably also tell you she’s fine washing her own dishes because that’s all she’s ever known, and for her, it works. And I’ve never seen anything but orderly cabinets and perfectly stacked flatware in her home. What’s her secret?
Maybe the better question is, “What are all my ugly secrets, and why are so of my issues playing out in the simple activity of unloading the dishwasher?”
Or more succinctly, “What the hell is wrong with me?” (That was rhetorical, so no need to comment.)
© 2021 David R. Haznaw