Our Diabolical Dishwasher

We’re all afraid of our new dishwasher. It looks innocent enough with its shiny chrome exterior and spacious interior, even though no one but Richard can load it for utmost efficiency.

It’s the imperceptibly, weak, microscopic green dot on the top of the door that sends us all into a panic. There you are, being a good citizen of the household, reaching to open the dishwasher to deposit into the cutlery basket the spoon you used for a nano-second to stir your coffee when you hear that familiar click; the one that signals the dishwasher is full of sparkling clean dishes.

Richard refers to this phenomenon as ”winning the lottery.” If you open a dishwasher full of clean dishes, you win the prize of putting said clean dishes away. You get hypothetical bonus points for then loading the dirty dishes sitting in the sink into the machine.

But you didn’t go to the dishwasher to empty the entire thing. You came to put your used spoon in it. You didn’t see the green light.

That light. It’s barely a light. It’s barely a dot. It’s barely anything. You can’t see it because it’s cleverly concealed by the countertop that juts out just over it. I wonder if they’re working together, having fun at our expense. If you bend over while turning your head sideways you can almost see it, but none of us remembers to do that.

The worst part about that sliver of green “light” is that once you open the dishwasher the light fades away. It has a failsafe so you can’t open the dishwasher, realize the dishes are clean, and then silently close it leaving the clean dishes inside for the next person to put away. No, once this dishwasher has been opened, there’s no turning back.

We all get the exact same surprised expression on our faces when any of us innocently opens the dishwasher only to realize too late that it has set us up, once again. It lets out a little clicking noise and then sends wafts of lemon-fresh steam into the kitchen. I’ve tried to close the door as soon as I’ve opened it hoping the light would stay on for the next poor sap that came to wash a spoon, but the dishwasher doesn’t allow that. When did appliances begin to wield such power?

The dishwasher has become the moral compass in our house. If you open it and it contains clean dishes, you must put the clean dishes away. The only way I know to bypass that rule is if I’m on my way out of the house and don’t have time to put the clean dishes away. At times like those I leave a note taped to the counter that reads “dishwasher clean”!

I foolishly hope that someone will see my note and empty the dishwasher, but instead, it acts as a signal to my family that I won the lottery so I should be the one to put away the dishes. They reward me even further by leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sink that will need to be loaded into the dishwasher after I empty it.

So, as you can imagine, none of us likes to put anything into the dishwasher anymore for fear we’ll unwittingly “win the lottery”. I try to bend over and look sideways for the menacing green light when I remember, but more often than not I am the recipient of the worst lottery prize ever.

Oh, how I long for my old dishwasher that hocked a loogie of Cascade onto the dishes and then didn’t have enough energy to rinse it off. That dishwasher had a lever that could be manually locked while it scrubbed your coffee spoon. The beautiful thing about that lever was that you could unlock it — pretend you didn’t — and then lock it again. No one ever had to know you won the lottery but refused to claim your prize.

I’m hoping this new dishwasher doesn’t last long. We all resent the authority it has over us. The next time we shop for a dishwasher the only requirement will be that it has a lever that locks and unlocks yet leaves no tell-tale sign, such as the sound of coffee spoons clinking together that grows louder – louder – louder, I say! Louder every moment until I just can’t take it anymore and feel compelled to confess that Yes! I won the lottery!

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