Labor Saving Appliances

Once a year the dining zone on campus gives away all its food for free all day. It’s crazy. I didn’t understand it the first time I heard about it. I thought maybe it meant free samples, or like you got a free drink with your meal. Or maybe you had to go through some elaborate internecine ordeal at the end of which you’d be given a single free meal ticket which, when presented at the cash register, would turn out to only cover scrambled eggs or something. But no. For one day only, literally everything in the dining commons is free. I don’t know if you’ve attended a giant state university, but they don’t have anything as pedestrian as a “dining hall” where you stand in line and get a plate of whatever the dining staff decided to make that day, and there’s one vegetarian option, and all the ice cream you want, and that’s it. No, at the state university it is like a mall food court, except way better and way more options. So many options! I never go there, except I went once on this one free day last year. There are like three different FANCY pizza places. And multiple legit salad bars. And chinese food and thai food and burritos and rad sandwiches and crazy-ass deserts and, like, espresso. All free! You just say “yes I’ll have the mac n’ cheese and a big piece of cake and seven iced teas” and they are like “here you go, enjoy your day.” Everyone is there going absolutely ape-shit, eating so many different genres of food at once. Anyway, I’m probably not going to go this year because it’s actually sort of stressful and I actually don’t enjoy eating lunch, as a rule. But in theory, I am very into it and I applaud the dining office or whoever for coming up with this great fun event. I don’t even know what purpose it’s supposed to serve. It’s just like, “Look, this life is hard as hell. Come get as many egg rolls as you want today, god bless you”

In other news, we moved into our house at the end of August, and now it is early December, and already two of our major appliances have given up the ghost. The first one (washing machine) took two months to replace. When it broke, we immediately bought a new one online, but we forgot to think about size issues. The door into our basement is bizarrely narrow. The delivery date was 6 weeks away, for some reason. So we got to know the local laundromat, which is actually quite nice, and one time while I was there a man complimented me on my bicep muscles, which has literally never happened to me in my life (I am notably small and weak), so now I have nice feelings for the place. Finally the great day arrived. Some classic Gruff But Honest New England Strong Men showed up with a giant truck and rang our doorbell. The minute I saw the guy, I realized we’d fucked up in a major way, because he was holding a tape measure. As soon as I saw it, I remembered, of course the washing machine isn’t going to fit down our stairs. I said “it won’t fit, I just realized.” He went and measured and roared with laughter. “It’s 7 inches too narrow,” he said. “I’m an idiot” I said. “No you’re not, it happens all the time,” he said. He told us if we pry off some of these boards holding the drywall together we could get away with a 24 inch machine, which is still comically small but apparently they do make them that size. He drove away. We went to the store and told Gary we needed a 24 inch washing machine. He said we only had two options, and one of them was great and the other was shitty and there was only a hundred dollar difference between them. We said, we’ll take the great one! It was another couple of weeks before it could get delivered. The same man showed up in the same truck. When I opened the door we both started laughing. “This time it’ll fit, I swear to god!” I said. He goes, “you know I’m gonna measure it first though right?” He measured. He said it’d fit. They had to take a bunch of our doors off just to get it down there. Once he got it hooked up and running we all stood around regarding it in silence for awhile. “Does this even hold a full load?” he asked. We shifted uncomfortably. I said, “I don’t know. We bought it based on size only.” He said “hey, I hear ya.” We gave him a huge tip. A month later our refrigerator broke, and we had the aforementioned breezy Black Friday experience, also with Gary, and also with this same deliveryman. Now when he comes we start right off making tape measure jokes. He tells us crazy delivery stories he’s experienced, where people scream at him because their appliance won’t fit through their door. “See you next time,” he said.

Cut to last night when we’re just sitting around minding our own business and we look down and there’s a huge puddle of water coming out of the dishwasher.

A few words on dishwashers: WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF A DISHWASHER? I’ve never used a dishwasher in my damn life. You have to wash the dishes before you put them into the machine! I honestly don’t understand how it saves you from having to “do the dishes.” You still have to stand there at the sink, wash off all the dishes, and then pile them in the machine. Just take 2 extra seconds and use soap: boom. I have friends who swear by the dishwasher and I just don’t understand how it actually helps your life. I sincerely want people to weigh in in the comments and explain it to me. It seems like it takes just as long, necessitates just as much standing at the sink getting your hands dirty, and also like half the shit you use you can’t even put in there in the first place (fancy pots etc.) so you have to hand-wash them anyway, etc. I guess if you had a bunch of kids, and so the dishes really piled up during the day, AND if you could train the kids that every time they used a dish, they rinsed it off and put it in the machine, so then once it was full you just had to run it–okay, that seems cool. But for us, first of all, it would take us 2 weeks to fill up the dishwasher, and by that time every single dish and fork we owned would be in there. Running it with 4 dishes in it is stupid. And the few times I have actually used a dishwasher, I feel like a fucking idiot, standing at the sink washing the dishes and then putting them in a machine that washes them. Also, dishwashers don’t even wash dishes that well, there’s always gross caked-on food and weird smudges and stains once it’s done. This is probably the thing that makes me feel the most baffled and alienated by my culture. Anyway don’t get me started on dishwashers.

So, but, given the above feelings about the pointlessness of dishwashers, you can imagine our rage at realizing that ours was randomly backed up with disgusting slimy standing water which was leaking onto the floor, EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE NEVER USED IT except once when we first moved in to make sure it worked. So now we have to watch a bunch of how-to YouTube videos on how to take your damn janky-ass dishwasher (which we didn’t even choose or purchase) apart and see why it’s not draining?? And it’s 9 p.m. on a damn Sunday and I’m trying to relax with an apple cider in my damn hand? No thanks!

So we watch the YouTube videos (so many nice, fun, and incredibly knowledgeable middle-aged men have made helpful YouTube videos, I swear, and I didn’t realize this until I bought a house. I bless these men) and take it apart. Luckily several months ago, in spite of my brutal mocking of him, my husband bought a “shop vac,” which is this crazy machine that sucks up liquid. I said it was a stupid thing to buy and we’d never use it. Turns out, I pulled a real boner on that one, because that shit comes in handy as hell! First of all, our basement floods when it rains–shop vac, help me! And then I guess you never know when your dumbass dishwasher is going to fill randomly with water. Up came the shop vac from the basement. The dog begged to go outside because he is afraid of the shop vac, but he was denied and had to cower in the corner by the front door. The shop vac sucked all the disgusting water out of the dishwasher lickety-split. We cleaned the machine and now it’s working again. But Lord! So now we have to do dishwasher maintenance even though we don’t use the dishwasher? And you can’t get rid of the dishwasher, because you have to have it for re-sale value if you ever sell your house, because people are so fucking crazy about needing to have dishwashers! This life is an unending dream

In other news, ’tis the last week of classes! I teach my last seminar today, my last two other classes wednesday. I have an observation to do thursday, a bunch of meetings on Friday, and a three hour meeting next monday night. After that it’s just grading and partying in my bikini and beer bong like I like to do! Everyone is happy now. In the hallways we all shrug and say “IT IS WHAT IT IS” when someone asks how the semester’s ending up. Whatever it is, it’s too late now, so fuck it! HOORAY FOR PIZZA! I think I will see if my old man will go out to dinner with me tonight.

Not a lot else has been going on. The other day I had a really weird out-of-body experience while teaching my big lecture class. I looked out and they were all on their phones and I just left my body. I just was like, “oh well, nothing matters anyway,” and my body just went on without me and my brain was like “I’ll check in later.” Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. It wasn’t exactly nihilistic because I wasn’t emo. It was more like I just became sort of hilarious and devil-may-care. If they’re all on their phones, then I guess it doesn’t matter what I do! I could take off all my clothes and start tap dancing. I could recite “the Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service. It was liberating. So in that moment my brain went away and thought about the bread-making schedule for the weekend and started planning out my book proposal. Meanwhile my body pranced around onstage, did some standup comedy, did some impressions, told anecdotes about my life, delivered a big speech about how “all of you are going to die and everyone you love is going to die,” then did some more comedy about that fact. Then my body played some 1950s jazz, and told them Berlioz’s life story. After awhile my brain checked back in and was like “okay you can be done now” so I said “class dismissed” and they all left. Afterward a student asked me “are there other classes like this I could take?” and I said “no”

I think that one student makes this whole job totally worth it. If you teach a 200 student lecture, and 199 of them are on their phones and could not give less of a shit whether you live or die, but one of them comes up afterward and is like “I love this class,” I guess that makes it worth it. You’re teaching to that kid and hoping the rest of them accidentally remember one thing you told them about the Holocaust or whatever. Lord

I’m exaggerating a little bit. I did do all those things onstage but I also did manage to stick to my lesson plan. It was more like all my usual nerves and angst just suddenly went away and I really did feel like my brain was split in two.

“Who’s in charge, me or my brain?”


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7 Responses to Labor Saving Appliances

  1. Alex says:

    Shop Vac doesn’t just do liquid, it does ANYTHING. Nails, wood, dust, spiders, petrified wieners, paper, etc.

    Truly a gift from above.

  2. Marijke says:

    Dishwashers are for ninnies.

    We don’t have one and I never notice. Although I did like using the one at the rental as a gigantic drying rack to save counter space.

  3. dv says:

    1) The first time our delivery guys came, the door frame was just barely too small. I had to borrow an orbital sander from the tool library and sand a bunch off the frame. Then they came back and it fit. SUCCESS. There is still wood dust on some things.

    2) We didn’t have a dishwasher before this house, but the one in this house is GOOD. It actually cleans the dishes well. We usually give them a quick rinse, but that might not even be necessary. It has cleaned a bunch of baked on gunk off of a glass casserole dish. Surprisingly, using the fanciest Cascade “Platinum” dishwasher packs is what does the trick. I tried the cheaper ones and they didn’t work as well. One scenario where something that seems like flashy branding is actually legit.

  4. Katie says:

    I think about dishwashers and washing dishes by hand quite a bit. At least, since we bought a house without a dishwasher and didn’t realize until after we’d put in the offer. It turned out that it wasn’t a dealbreaker.

    At our old rental, there was a fancy drawer-like dishwasher with two small “drawers” or compartments — ideal for a smaller quantity of dishes as you could run one at a time. I miss this fancy dishwasher.

    And since moving, we’ve had another kid and he likes to drink water and milk all day long and I can’t keep everyone’s glasses straight and almost every night I curse the amount of dishes that I must wash by hand. Other nights I put on my green gloves and find it to be an oddly pleasing activity.

    I have read that one benefit of handwashing is that our inability to sanitize the dishes when washing by hand allows enough residual bacteria to remain, leading to a stronger and healthier immune system through exposure. Bonus!

  5. yelena says:

    I too do not like using a dishwasher and was not worried when our house did not have one. We do, however, have a bi-weekly soup night for around 8-10 people and it would be a miracle if we didn’t have to come downstairs to a kitchen-full of dirty dishes the following Monday morning. The drying rack function would also be very nice. But as of now, I like washing the small quantity of dishes by hand.

    By the way, how did your dishwasher get all that gross water in it if it wasn’t used? Does it just get water pumped into it when resting or something???

  6. Jaclyn says:

    Man! People hate on dishwashers because they don’t have the facts! If it takes forever to fill one bc you’re using like 2 dishes at a time, that’s one thing. But hand-washing is super wasteful of water (and energy, unless you’re washing your dishes in cold water). Your faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute, while a non-Energy Star dishwasher uses 5-6 gallons for a whole cycle and the energy efficient ones use only 3-4 gallons. I only run mine when it’s full, about every 3 days. I also have a lot of dinner parties and with the dishwasher I never leave a sink full of dirty dishes overnight anymore. I can clean-up in 5 minutes, it’s fantastic.

    Also, you SHOULD NOT rinse dishes first! Dish detergent is designed to attach to food particles, so you’re supposed to leave that shit on there so the enzymes activate it. Dishwashers are tested with like peanut butter and shit stuck on the plates. Just drop the big chunks of food into the compost or trash. Any properly-functioning machine made in the last 10 years should get them clean. I think some people load improperly (big bowls or pans covering the sprayers, plates and bowls on top rack, etc) and then think the machine is the problem. Or maybe theirs are broken, I dunno. But mine is like 6 years old and not fancy at all and all I do is shake my dishes out first and they come out perfectly clean every time without me standing at the sink running water for 20 minutes. I mean, even if you fill the sink up and let them soak, how many minutes do you spend rinsing those? Seems like a crazy amount of hot water to me.

    Seriously google “dishwasher vs hand-washing” or “do i need to rinse before dishwashing” or something similar. You might be surprised!


  7. Yours Truly says:

    This is extremely helpful info re: water usage!!! But I SWEAR, there is always food caked onto my dishes everytime I use a dishwasher. Maybe I’ve never used a new enough one, OR maybe I don’t know how to load one. I will do more research.

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