Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Merits of a Being a Dishwasher

Sometime last fall our dishwasher broke. And I mean really, truly broke. It hadn't been working very well for a year or two as it was. You know, when it works so poorly that you almost completely wash the dishes before you put them in, and wash half of them again when they get out because there's a sheen of SOMETHING on them? But then, last fall, it made itself completely useless. And since we didn't have the money to replace something non-vital, Mom, Sarah and I became the dishwasher(s).

At first I thought it would be fun. I'm the kind of person who enjoys the novelty of "old-fashioned" tasks like hanging clothes out on a clothesline, dusting with a feather duster or scrubbing the floor on one's hands and knees like Cinderella. Of course, over time the novelty wears off (I only scrubbed the bathroom floor like Cinderella once) and then I wish for the modern conveniences of things like dryers, vacuum cleaners with hand-held dusting attachments and Swiffer mops.

The novelty of washing dishes by hand wore off by my second turn. First of all, it gives me a backache and makes my hands shrivel from excess water exposure. It also wasn't romantic and old-fashioned, because we take turns washing dishes individually, so instead of the "wash, rinse, towel and shelve" method, we employ our broken dishwasher and load the clean, wet dishes into its trays to drip dry. That makes it easier when you are washing dishes alone, but is definitely not old-fashioned, and therefore, not romantic!

However, it has also taught me some useful lessons. Firstly, it has shown me what I can do without. I have tried some old-fashioned methods of common chores before, but voluntarily, and only until it ceased being fun. Now I am so used to taking my turn of washing the dishes by hand that it seems normal. I have even begun to forget that other people actually have mechanical dishwashers.

Secondly, it has taught me how to wash dishes by hand quickly. It took three hours for me to get through my first normal-sized load of dishes (we usually wash all the dishes for the day in one straight job after supper). I can now complete the same amount in one hour.

And thirdly, it has taught me (and the rest of the family) to be more conservative with the amount of dishes that we use. For example, if you're just having a snack of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, why get a napkin AND a plate, when you can use the napkin as a plate and then wipe your mouth with it afterward?

It has also given us some fun times with generous friends who've pitched in on several occasions to help with larger piles of dirty dishes after gatherings.

I still hope we will replace our dishwasher eventually, but I have found its loss to be a valuable experience. I think everyone should have to live for an extended time without something our society deems "necessary" at some point in their life.



  1. I LOVE washing dishes by hand and think it's wonderful fun!:) I know I'm, strange..:)

    hehe, scrubbing the floor like Cinderella did not last long for me either! ;)

  2. I don't hate it, but there are plenty of other things I would do for "wonderful fun." ;) But one of my "wonderful fun" things is organizing, which is strange too. hehehe!

    Yes, that was actually painful, and ridiculously impractical for non-castle floors...