The Dishwasher: A Metaphor For Life

Sometimes, if we pay attention, we can see broader life circumstances and challenges in the smaller things. The microcosm of the macrocosm you might say…

When we were kids my older sister Deirdre and I got the job of washing and drying the dishes after dinner. I can’t say it was something that I loved to do, but I didn’t hate it either.

As an adult when I look back at that it seems to me that it was an opportunity for us to get to know each other that little bit more, and though trivial, it seems important to me now.

We didn’t get on very well as kids, we were constantly at logger heads so it gave us both a chance to work together at something without killing each other.

Remarkably we managed to do that without much trouble. We’d take turns, she’d wash I’d dry. I’d wash she’d dry. It makes me wonder are my kids missing out on that engagement.

If I’m doing my thing in the kitchen (I’m good in the kitchen by the way), I’ll just hand wash things instead of putting them in the dishwasher.

It seems pointless to me to put a bowl or knife in the dishwasher when I can just rinse it under the tap and it’s done. Same after dinner, I can wash these things quicker and more efficiently by hand.

Our dishwasher is shit at cleaning things, and really as I write this I wonder if it’s supposed to be any different. Besides, I kind of like hand washing.

It’s therapeutic I think.

The Trouble With Dishwashers

The dishwasher is almost a metaphor for life.

If cleaning dishes, knives and forks by hand is such a hassle and inconvenience then maybe there’s something deeper that needs to be resolved in us.

I still use the dishwasher but it won’t be long before it’s out on it’s ear to gather rust. I can’t stand the dishwasher, not least because other people in our house don’t know how to shaggin’ load it!

And besides, it’s noisy, it gets clogged with food particles because “people” don’t sluice first! It doesn’t clean the dishes properly (for the same reason as the one prior).

The bowls don’t stack properly, in fact it’s not very good for stacking anything except plates and only if they are small enough to fit in without the rotating thing whacking off their tops.

Now I have to admit, I am a pain in the arse when it comes to details so no wonder I’m a bit OCD when it comes to the dishwasher.

It’s always been that way for as long as I can remember. As such people find it very difficult to work with me because of my uncompromising approach.

Sighs, tuts and fuck-off-Lar’s have been common responses over the years to my insistence on things being done in a certain way. Fact is I’m a total bollox, and…. I’m happy quite with that.

It doesn’t mean I’m always right by the way, I’m not that arrogant. But when it comes to loading a dishwasher I’m fucking right, ok!

The Facebook Post

I decided to have a bit of fun with the dishwasher thing so I fired up a quick post on my Facebook profile the other day for the craic and it’s seems I’m not alone in my dishwasher anxiety.

“I’m thinking of starting a help group for the long suffering husbands of women who can’t load dishwashers. My own personal belief is that women’s inability to load a dishwasher is a silent epidemic under which many husbands are suffering.”

“If you’re unsure your wife has deficiency in this area, watch out for these tell tale symptoms;

  • Pots in the dishwasher

  • Dishes & cutlery un sluiced

  • Knives and forks upside down in the cutlery carrier

  • Knives and forks indiscriminately loaded in the cutlery carrier

  • Bowls stacked with dried out porridge

  • Dishes and glasses mixed up on the same shelf

  • Different size dishes piled in together

The list goes on….

Any of you guys who have spouses who have trouble in this area please get it touch. Don’t suffer in silence”

The post got a few laughs, a bit of banter and a bunch of shares. Also it seems the ailment is not gender specific, as many women are also suffering under husbands who can’t load a dishwasher.

For those of you like me who insist on doing things well, I want to let you know that it’s ok. Even though the world would like to suggest you have OCD, I’m here to tell you you don’t.

You just happen to give a fuck about doing things better than ordinary.

The Self Inflicted Lobotomy

On a more serious note, technology should improve the lives of everyone equally, but it doesn’t. Global society is pushing ever more towards complete automation and commercialisation of life.

You might say technology has made our lives better and simpler. Well here’s my take on that; I 100% cast iron believe that our use of technology is having a quiet and detrimental effect on our lives.

Technology is not good or bad inherently, same goes for money, rather it’s how it’s utilised that causes the problems. In the hands of insane people, technology will bring about negative consequences.

Ok, the dishwasher anxiety thing might be a trivial example, but I think it’s symptomatic or at least a metaphorical example of a broader issue with things that are supposed to bring convenience.

Couple it with all the other means we use to escape the reality of our now, and you’ll find it contributes albeit in a small way, towards our self inflicted conscious lobotomy.

The Simpler The Better

I’ve spent probably the last 6 years simplifying my life, although I have to say it wasn’t a conscious decision to do so. On reflection it feels like it was done for me.

I’ve less now than I’ve had before and ironically I’m much happier. The less I have to do on any given day the happier I am. I’d quite happily just sit in my kitchen doing nothing.

Convenience is an illusory notion. It’s been dreamed up by a bunch of clever marketing executives as a means to manipulate an already existent need in human beings to fulfill a false belief in some future that doesn’t exist.

We seem to be a race of people that just can’t be present, like lab rats in a wheel ever pursuing the top of the wheel which we can never reach.

I’ve written before about convenience and how ultimately it’s damaging to us on a personal level and on a societal level. How it robs us of an opportunity to engage in a meaningful way with others.

The corner shops are almost gone, the butcher shops, the bakers, the fishmongers, the fuel delivery bloke, the breadman all gone pretty much, except for one or two here and there.

All replaced with large scale industrialisation of food production and delivery. We don’t even have to leave our houses now to get our weekly food requirements.

We’re too busy.

Life Was Better When We Were Young

A juvenile nostalgic notion?

Yes, it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

When we were kids things were simpler. As we’ve grown we have been further assimilated into a broken system and now we are up to our necks in dishwasher gunge.

When my parents were young their parents would feed their family from their back garden. My father’s father grew all kinds of veg, my mother’s mother had chickens that gave eggs daily.

They weren’t doing this to make money, it was something that they just did as a normal part of life. It wasn’t like they had a big plot of land to grow on either, they lived in small council houses in the city.

I don’t know about you, but I crave simpler things and I think using technology primarily for entertainment and convenience is robbing us and our kids of a better life.

We need to adopt a more organic natural way of life, to grow and eat real food, to understand the value in small hand made things, and to use technology to produce better quality, not more for less.

Right now I don’t think the majority of us are doing a very good job of that. We expect the technology to do things for us, to take away our inconveniences and make us happy.

The truth is the things we currently believe will make life better actually do the opposite.

Originally published at Larry G. Maguire.

Howdy, I’m Larry, Writer & Artist. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. I write short stories about the ordinary lives of people and the challenges they face. My stuff can be edgy, hard hitting, and sometimes controversial, but never contrived. If that’s your bag you can Sign-up To Sunday Letters Here.