My Dishwasher

jcartier-Dish-washer-800pxMy wife insists upon carefully inspecting every dish that comes out of our dishwasher.   Why she does this, I do not know. Either she distrusts the washer or she distrusts me.

I can see distrusting the machine. It is old and has not aged gracefully.   When we start it before going to bed it keeps us up all night with its gargling, gagging and clunking about.

Frankly, it is a slacker.

I thought the role of a dishwasher was embodied in its name – to wash dishes.  Ours does not see it that way.  It is only willing to assist in the task which requires me to thoroughly scrub every pot and platter before feeding it into the machine. It also requires that my wife double-check my work.

Which makes me long for the old days when my buddy Stan and I shared an apartment.

It was a shabby little place on the second floor of a two story brownstone. We got it cheap because the uninsulated tar roof boiled in the summer and dripped icicles in the winter – but we loved the place because the other tenants made us look conservative by comparison.

In short, it was heaven.

We figured housekeeping would be the least of our worries because both Stan and I came from the same tradition.  We both came from large families whose parents promoted themselves to management by relegating all household tasks to their children.

All the chores rotated on a weekly basis, so everyone knew how to do everything and Stan and I resolved to maintain the tradition by cooking one week and cleaning the next; we would switch tasks on Friday.

It worked great for the first week. Stan launched his duties by cooking spaghetti.   Our kitchen looked like a scene out of The Godfather with ground beef and pork sizzling in the big frying pans and onions and garlic sauteing in the smaller ones.  It all got whisked into a massive pot of simmering fresh tomato sauce,  along with olive oil, rosemary, oregano and thyme.

Stan and I ate well because we worked long night shifts in a steel foundry and supper had to stay with us until breakfast.  So the meals were fabulous but the mess was staggering. It took me longer to clean up than it did for Stan to prepare. But no matter, I took comfort in the fact that the next week, Stan would clean.

Or so I thought.

A week later, I inaugurated my cooking duties with a pot of fish chili. The dish was well received by a few friends who dropped by and when no one lingered around to help clean – the dishes remained in the sink.

On the second day, the dishes were still there.

On the third day, they breached the walls of the sink and overflowed onto the counter.

By the fourth day, the clutter flooded onto the floor and swelled in a torrent that threatened to engulf the hall.

I reminded Stan of our agreement.

“You worry too much.,” he said.

“Perhaps,” I said, “but we are out of pots and pan, so don’t expect me to cook.”

“No problem,” he said.

By evening, I had a clean pot and a pan – except I didn’t recognize them.

This continued until Friday morning (the day we switched duties) and by that time I was beyond anger.  “I know what you are up to,” I accused, “you plan to dump the dishes on me when our chores roll-over.”

“You have trust issues, don’t you?” he said.

“Only with you,” I told him.

But Stan came through.

On Friday, after from running errands I returned in time for super and found the floor, counter and sink spotless.

Stan had just finished baking lasagna. “Grab a plate,” he said.

I opened the cupboard.

“Uh Stan,” I said, “these aren’t our plates.”

“Yes, they are.”

“No, they are not.  Where did you get them?”

“I picked them up at the Goodwill this afternoon,” he said.

“So where are our old dishes?”

“Where do you think?” he asked.

I shrugged.

“In the dumpster,” he said, “I can’t stand doing dishes.”

After the shock wore off, I had a suggestion.  “Why don’t we use paper plates?”

“You have no class,” he said.

Two weeks later, we had new dishes again and so it went.

Author: Almost Iowa

46 thoughts on “My Dishwasher”

  1. Kudos to you and Stan for even giving it a try. I doubt many bachelor apartments would see that kind of attempt at cooking and cleaning!

  2. Our dishwasher sounds like a truck with some bad piston rings. I used to have a room mate who lived entirely on elbow macaroni and ketchup. She would let these dry to a crust over night and stack them until you have a roll of Necco’s made of plates fused with ketchup. I think I moved rather than clean. Hey now I know what to write about for next week!

    1. “I used to have a room mate who lived entirely on elbow macaroni and ketchup. She would let these dry to a crust over night and stack them until you have a roll of Necco’s made of plates fused with ketchup”

      In college, I specialized in periglacial geomorphology (arctic landforms). My intent was to live in the arctic, as far away from people as possible. I have always regretted my decision not to do that.

  3. Very funny.
    Our old dishwasher cleaned its last dish a few weeks ago. It, along with the rest of our kitchen appliances, was almond. We went to the store to pick out a replacement. It seems appliance colors are now black, stainless steel, or white, none of which I like. Black, in a small kitchen, makes it look even smaller, white is too sterile, and stainless is too industrial. We could have gotten something called biscuit for quite a bit more but I don’t know how much longer the other appliances will last and if biscuit will be available then, so we decided on the white.
    I’m with you on the need to clean dishes before cleaning them.

  4. First off, Stan may be my hero.

    Second, it reminds me of a guy I knew who hated pairing socks from the dryer so much, he threw each pair of socks out after the first time he wore them.

  5. This story reminds me of the six months my sister and I shared an apartment. She would never wash dishes. So I decided to let them pile up. Soon, rather than using plates or bowls, we were eating from Tupperware containers. All other dishes were stacked unwashed. I don’t recall how this story ended other than we weren’t roommies for too long.

    P.S. I do not own a dishwasher.

  6. Aw the bachelor life! I freaking hate dishwashers (although I swear by them) I’ve had cheap and expensive ones and they are noisier than hell within two years no matter the make or model!

  7. I can never understand the logic of washing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The dishwasher tablets are ten times more powerful than they were a year ago (so the packet says) so why wash the dishes, pots and pans before placing in the dishwasher?
    I guess paper plates are good, but you can’t, of course, put them in the dishwasher! Or can you?

    1. I am sure dishwashing detergent is ‘new’ and ‘improved’ but our old beast isn’t. It is very unmotivated. When we renovate our kitchen, we’ll give him his notice.

  8. My wife hates our dishwasher. It’s new and capable, but she prefers to wash dishes pots and pans as she goes. So, after dinner, there’s a whopping two plates to clean. She uses it once a week to do those stove things. I did do the Stan thing in college. My roommate refused to do the dishes, so I threw them out. He got the message and we got new dishes from a thrift shop.

    1. Once when we were selling our house, I promised the realtor I would have the house clean for an afternoon visit then promptly fell asleep. Her car in the driveway woke me, so I ran to the kitchen and tossed the dishes out the window into the snow. Sadly, she and the prospective buyers found them.

  9. I can’t say I don’t understand the impulse, because I’m one who deals with those metal liners that go beneath stove burners in exactly the same way. I wash them well enough from time to time, but eventually it’s just not worth it any more, and out they go. The new ones always looks so nice and fresh.

    But dishes, pots, and pans? The primary reason that gets to me is that I’m friends with mine. I’ve collected my vintage china piece by piece, and I still have some of the pans I learned to cook with, like my mother’s aluminum fudge-making pan. I’m a thrower, not a keeper, by nature, but some things just can’t be thrown.

    1. “I’m friends with mine”

      Same here. A few years ago, I bought a coffee mug from Redwing Pottery and a beer mug from my favorite bar, The Contented Cow in Northfield. I don’t know what I would do without them.

      People form bonds with inanimate objects that are far beyond liking, if it is not love, it is the closest thing to it.

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