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Broken dishwasher means unwelcome stint of washing dishes by hand

By June Mathews

Bless my heart. I’ve been without a dishwasher for a week now, and I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself.

A while back, I noticed the spoons and forks weren’t looking quite as shiny as before but attributed it to the age and quality of the silverware. Then I realized the glassware was filmy, and the daisy designs on the stoneware dinner plates were not quite as perky as they used to be.

Reluctant to believe my decades-old dishwasher was about to give up the ghost, I purchased some of that super-duper dishwasher detergent guaranteed to do everything but restack the china in the kitchen cupboard. While it helped, it wasn’t enough. The filminess didn’t get worse, but it didn’t get better.

Then as I began emptying the dishwasher one day, I found specks of gummy gunk on what should have been clean coffee cups, and I couldn’t deny the plain fact of the matter any longer: My beloved dishwasher was dying.

Not ready to purchase a new model just yet, I asked Jimmie if he thought he could fix it well enough to last a little longer, and he agreed to try. The idea actually made me kind of nervous since Jimmie is really good at taking things apart, but he’s not always sure how they fit back together. Then I figured what the heck. Either way, the dishwasher was broken, so I might as well let Captain Destruct-o have a go at it before calling an expensive repairman.

To his credit (and, I admit, my great surprise), Jimmie immediately discovered the problem: A plastic part in the bottom of the dishwasher was disintegrating, and that’s where the gunk was coming from. Solving the problem, it appeared, was a simple matter of a replacement part, so Jimmie got on the Internet and ordered one. And here we wait.

In the meantime, somebody has to keep the dishes clean, and when I say “somebody” I’m naturally referring to myself.

Now until this happened, I’d hardly washed an entire sink full of dishes since I was 10 years old. Back then, Mama’s preferred method of dishwashing involved my brothers and me taking turns washing, rinsing or drying. We often argued over whose turn it was to do what, and we usually wound up wetter (though not necessarily cleaner) than the dishes.

Then Mama and Daddy bought a new house, avocado green dishwasher included, and we kids considered our dish-related chores a thing of the past. Mama, however, was quick to point out that dishwashers didn’t load and unload themselves, so we were never completely off the hook as far as dish duty was concerned.

But thanks to those pre-dishwasher days, I’d had plenty of experience with hand-washing. So when the dishwasher broke down, it’s not like I didn’t know what to do. I just wasn’t all that thrilled about it. And after several days of waiting for UPS to deliver the new part, I’m growing less and less enamored of my dishwasher-less state.

I have to say, though, the silverware is shinier, the glassware is sparkling and the stoneware daisies have perked right up. A little hand-scrubbing has done wonders for the dishes.

But I can’t say it’s done any wonders for me since I find the nightly hand-washing session no more enjoyable than I did when I was 10. While I’m grateful for the food that messes up the dishes, the sink in which to wash them and the clean running water available for rinsing, I’m a creature of habit whose routine has been disrupted, and I’m feeling pretty grumpy about it.

And if that replacement part doesn’t get here soon, my attitude will likely get worse. These dishpan hands and I have had enough. It’s somebody else’s turn to do the dishes.

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