Dishwasher Allergies

I am convinced that some of the human inhabitants of this house are allergic to the dishwasher. Or they think they are allergic to the dishwasher. The dishwashing routine in the house has been known to all and unchanged for many years. First thing in the mornings the clean dishes are unpacked from the dishwasher and we’re set for the next day’s load of dirty dishes and the beauty of it is that these machines are actually able to be packed piece by piece as it’s used and doesn’t just have to be packed all in one go at the end of the day.


I’ve been trying in vain to teach some this little bit of dishwashing-technology: that the machine can handle it if you put for instance one dirty mug or spoon or plate in at a time and close the door until the next person comes along and puts in their dirty dish until we add all the dinner dishes at the end of the day and run a washing cycle, but some of my co-inhabitants just appear to be unteachable on this subject which seems strange for people who are otherwise seemingly quite intelligent.


The dishwasher may be completely empty and ready for new dirty dishes when a dirty mug gets left in the kitchen sink right next to it, with a large plate put on top of the mug at such an angle that the sink is instantly full and nobody else can use the sink until those dishes have been moved. Surely there has to be an allergy involved to the actual machine. I cannot see any other logical explanation. I have to add that some family members display none of these allergic symptoms and are quite conscientious with this procedure. It’s all quite strange.


It’s similarly inexplicable as the attraction to empty, cleared flat surfaces. The kitchen bench top seems to be a magnet for an array of things: dirty cups, mugs, newspapers, the teabags tin, the cereal box, bottle openers and all sorts, especially when it’s just been cleared and cleaned. How does it send different messages to different people? To some one message: “I’m clean and tidy and don’t dump things here”, but to others it sends a completely different message: “I’m a clear empty space ready for things to be dumped on”. I’ve never been able to work out how it does that.


In exasperation I’ve once said that I’ll design our next kitchen to have no flat surfaces – they’ll all be curved or sloping – so that nothing will stay on it and as a result nothing will be dumped on it. The only problem is that cooking on a sloping or curved surface presents a few other challenges. It would be a bit like chopping onions in a bowl, and not being able to leave anything untouched while I’m busy with something else in case it goes rolling off the bench, so I had to give up on that idea.


The floor is another surface that attracts all sorts of things. Certain shoes, for instance, just seem to stay in the same spot for a long time, and nobody but me seems to notice them which is something I can’t figure out either. Do you only notice these things when you reach a certain age? Or is it a gender thing? Or is it more like a rite of passage and you have to earn your ability to notice these things by, for example, having picked up a certain number of things that don’t belong to you or by having cleaned a certain number of diapers? This one is beyond me.


But wait for the best part: there is actual magic going on in our house. Certain things magically become invisible once they’ve left someone’s hand. Certain teaspoons do that. They lie on the kitchen bench after being used, completely invisible to some. I find this quite annoying though, because none of these uncooperative items are willing to be invisible to me! How come I’m the privileged one that notices it all?


That privilege sometimes becomes a responsibility because I’m expected to know and remember the location and GPS coordinates of every item on our property. It’s like my brain is a computerised filing system for all this information and anyone living in the house can at any given moment log in and access that information. But beware the day when the computer is out of battery and cannot be accessed or the updated details of the last movement of an item hasn’t been saved onto the computer and it gives out the outdated (incorrect) information of the item’s last location or worse still, a particular item has never been logged in the system, but the most negligent sub-standard performance is when the information has been logged and updated but the file is unaccountably lost in a mystery of our advanced technological age. File vanished. System (and information) overload. No more memory space available. Oh dear. It’s no wonder one of the kids has said to me in the past that my brain is like a computer. (You, my dear family, have assisted in turning it into one!) But on other occasions I sometimes get asked (about other random bits of information that’s useless according to them but my brain decided to retain it), why I remember all this useless information. The answer is that I don’t know, but it’s probably an involuntary response by my brain subconsciously thinking that it might get asked this at any point in the future, so best to remember that!


In the midst of all these apparent allergies and uncooperative items in our house, we have also seen some private enterprise flourish through good old supply and demand. On the supply side we have an industrious and resourceful child willing to help out her older brother with his chores for the right price and on the demand side we have the older brother who’d rather pay someone to do his chores than do it himself. This little enterprise started out with her taking over his daily job of unpacking clean dishes from the dishwasher in the mornings for a monthly fee but has now grown to include keeping his room organised and clean. I’ve only had to intervene once when payment was overdue but otherwise it’s a free market system. I do have some concerns about the system that I’d voiced to child No.1 a few times though – mainly that he’ll always expect to pay someone else to do his chores – but at the moment both parties are happy with the arrangement. Unfortunately this free market deal doesn’t include packing dirty dishes into the dishwasher.


It’s quite a challenge, this permanent vigil against the magnets that cause items to gravitate to the floor, dealing with seemingly invisible items, making sure the brain’s filing system is up to date and battling the allergy (or aversion) to the dishwasher. No wonder my head spins some days and I end up feeling like I’m running around in blurry circles like a Road Runner…

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