At 1:34pm today, I loaded my dishwasher for the first time in nearly 2 months. No, 60 days of dishes were not teetering precariously on every surface of my kitchen (there isn't that much surface and I don't have that many dishes). Rather, I've been hand-washing every plate, glass, spoon, dried-pancake-batter-covered mixing bowl, milk-encrusted sippy cup, caked-on lasagna pan and any other utensil that has been handled by my family of four for what feels like an eternity.
My conservative estimate (my husband is the exaggerator of this pair) is that for the last half-year, our dishes have had some level of soap residue left on them after a cycle through the dishwasher. I'd become so accustomed to this reality that it wasn't until John commented at dinner several nights in a row that his meal had the faint taste of fresh lemons that I recognized it was probably time to take action.
In typical fashion, the item "Get dishwasher fixed" fell down and down my to-do list. Crossing that task off the list eluded me long enough for our garbage disposal to stop working as well. Recognizing that we could be throwing down some serious cash for two new appliances, I decided a better option might be to renew our home warranty. Even with the yearly fee and the service charge for each claim, that option it would still be cheaper than two new appliances.
During the month it took for me to finally complete the task of calling about the home warranty, I had completed the first several of the Stages You Go Through When Washing Dishes By Hand:
Stage 1: Mild Annoyance -- "This is annoying to be washing all our dishes by hand, but it's only for a few days. I can handle this. Lots of people don't have dishwashers."
Stage 2: Finding Inner Peace -- "OK, so this is lasting longer than a few days. I'm just going to try to enjoy this time standing in front of the sink. It can be time for me. Time for thinking and reflecting and pondering the things of life."
Stage 3 (directly on the heels of Stage 2): Denial -- "Dishes? What dishes? I don't see any dishes."
Stage 4: Take Out -- "Honey, can you pick up something for dinner on the way home? And make sure they give you paper plates. And spoons. And cups."
So I get our home warranty renewed and can barely contain my excitement when Rosemary (my agent) tells me the warranty takes affect at midnight tonight, so I can make a claim the next day if I want to.
"So, is there anything wrong in your house right now?"
"Ummm, no. Not that I know of." (Worried that if I tell her my dishwasher and my disposal are not working she somehow will not be able to renew the warranty. I realize lying is wrong people, but cut me some slack.)
"Well, good. Just one last thing I need to tell you...there is a 30-day waiting period for rust and corrosion. So, if you do make a claim and it's determined that the problem is due to rust or corrosion, the maintenance will not be covered under the warranty."
"Oh. OK." (Crap.)
Figuring that with my luck, it would be determined that both my dishwasher and disposal were not working due to rust or corrosion, I decided to play it safe and wait the 30 days. This was not an easy decision, but I wanted to bypass the reality of Murphy's Law being played out in this situation.
During the second 30 days, I worked my way through more Stages than I would've ever thought possible.
Stage 5: Water Conservation -- "Think of all the water we're saving!"
Stage 6: Glass Conservation -- "How many glasses did you use today? You're gonna reuse that glass aren't you?"
Stage 7: Dish Acrobatics -- "Look at that pile of clean dishes!" (I amazed myself at my newly-developed ability to stack dishes for optimum drying time.)
Stage 8: Dishpan Hands -- "Where's my hand lotion? I can't find my hand lotion!" (Truthfully, my hands have aged 20 years in the past 8 weeks.)
Which brings us to today. The Appliance Doctor braved the treacherous (or not) 1/4 inch of ice to show up at my doorstep and save me from washing one more dish by hand. In less than 5 minutes, he showed me the reason for my dishwashing troubles -- an elastic ponytail holder and what looked to be a mangled plastic straw. I've been washing dishes by hand for 60 days because of an ELASTIC PONYTAIL HOLDER?!?
My frustration was short-lived because I was about knocked flat on my feet by the horrendous smell coming from the dishwasher. It smelled like a dead cat.
"What is that awful stench?"
(The 'Doctor' with a cheekful of chew) "Oh that's stagnant water. It's probably been sitting in there since the last time you ran your dishwasher. That's nothin'. I've seen stagnant water that's turned black. Do you have any white vinegar?"
"All I have is cider vinegar."
"That'll do."(He pours an entire bottle of cider vinegar into the dishwasher and starts it back up.)
My dishes now smell like they were licked clean by a dead cat that fell into a tub of vinegar...but at least I didn't have to wash them by hand.