Sometimes I think modern, labor saving appliances are more of an aggravation than a convenience.
Case in point: my dishwasher.
Yesterday, I had a repairman come out. I've been washing dishes by hand for the last several months. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, because my supposedly clean and sanitary dishes were coming out of my Maytag dishwasher still looking downright nasty.
I don't think my dishwasher was ever very good at removing streaks of peanut butter from knives and spoons or red lipstick from the rims of cups and glasses. I gave up on heavily soiled pots and pans a long time ago and always scour them with a rough sponge in the kitchen sink. But of late, even ordinary plates and bowls that we eat off of, ones that are not particularly dirty to start with, have been coming out of the dishwasher still covered with cruddy looking remants of greasy food. Ugh!
So yesterday, I finally relented and called an appliance repairman.
He replaced a broken paddle on my dishwasher and, with a lot of sighing, freed the innards of all the teabags and plastic drinking straws that SOMEONE (I shall not say WHO) has apparently been carelessly tossing into the machine.
After I wrote a check for a considerable sum (parts and labor) the repairman left and, over the course of one giddy afternoon and evening freed from the chore of dishwashing, I gleefully exclaimed several times, "Oh, it will be SO nice to have a dishwasher that actually works!
But alas, twas not to be, at least not for me!
Around 9:00 p.m., I finished loading the machine, put the detergent in the dispenser and triumphantly pushed 'start.' Then, feeling luxurious, I headed to the bedroom to settle in with a good book and a bowl of frozen cherries. For perhaps fifteen minutes, I was oblivious to mayhem in the kitchen until…. my husband came in the bedroom and said, 'Martha, I hate to tell you this, but the dishwasher is leaking all over the floor."
"OH NOOOOOOOO!" I screamed and raced down the hall to the kitchen doorway to watch hot water trickle out of the dishwasher door and run all over the wooden floor. I turned the machine off and cautiously peeked inside. Steam rose from soapy, sloshing water. I quickly shut and latched the door while Bob brought bath towels from the linen closet to mop up.
Then, like Scarlett O'Hara, I decided that 'tomorrow is another day' and I went to bed and spent a restless night dreaming about dishwashers and other wayward appliances.
Today, the same repairman came back. He's a nice guy, he didn't charge me this time. His diagnosis? Bad gasket in the dishwasher door. It needs to be re-placed. And why wasn't it leaking before? Because the water pressure was too low, but now, with a clean machine and two working paddles, the water pressure is sufficient to push the water right out of the leaky door.
What to do? Pay for ANOTHER part and very expensive labor and hope nothing else goes wrong for a while? Buy a new machine? Cautiously use the broken one I've got with a stratgically placed pan on the floor to catch the leaking water? Or just wash dishes by hand?
As the repairman was leaving, I sighed and said, "Well, my mother never had a dishwasher. I reckon there's no reason why I have to have one either. They're a convenience for sure, but certainly NOT a necessity."
So, after lunch today, I filled the kitchen sink with warm sudsy water and washed the dishes by hand. They're neatly stacked in the drip tray on the counter right now. I'll put them away when I get home from my yoga class late this afternoon.
And honestly, given my track record with appliances (which is unfailingly BAD) I think I'm just going to forget about dishwashers and wash the dishes by hand from now on. It's true, my mother never used a dishwasher. And, unlike the dishwasher, I'm not broken down and in need of new parts. I suspect I'll be more fastidious about scrubbing peanut butter off of knives and lipstick off of coffee cup rims too.
And besides, I've noticed something else: while my hands automatically soap and rinse dishes, and I idly stare at the woods and Bob's little garden from my kitchen window, my mind is often in a curious paradoxical state of relaxation and alertness in which I am gifted with insights and creative ideas. Maybe NOT having a dishwasher is actually a gift, the gift of a little solitary 'down time' just to be alone and think.