Spoiled by dishwasher

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The hole in my kitchen cabinets smiles at me like a kid with a missing front tooth — rows of white straight doors (teeth) and then the black hole where my dishwasher should sit.

It was time to put the old dishwasher out to pasture after all of the cycles, but one stopped working and that one only got going after several tries. Putting a new one in its place seemed a simple thing to do, but oh, the simple can turn complicated.

The first step was choosing the model we wanted, something that took about five minutes. Then we purchased it and set up a delivery and installation date. So far, things were going well.

Right on time the installer arrived, pulled out the old appliance and plopped it on the carport. In came the new one all shiny and happy. Then came the complication. From the kitchen, I heard.

“Oh no. This is a problem.”

I pretended I didn’t hear, hoping ignorance would indeed be bliss. There was to be no bliss in dishwasher land this day.

“Mrs. Blackmon,” called Lee, the nice installer. “We have a problem.”

I walked in the kitchen to see the dishwasher part of the way in the hole.

“It won’t fit,” he said.

“It has to fit,” I said. “I measured the height and width.”

“It’s hitting the back of the wall,” Lee said. “The cabinets aren’t deep enough for this dishwasher.”

So, out came the new one and off went our installer to see what would fit in my misshapen cabinet hole. That meant a weekend with no dishwasher and a realization for me.

My first thought, “Well, I won’t cook much this weekend and we can use paper plates for what we do eat.”

And that is what we did Saturday and Sunday. When it turned out that the dishwasher was not coming back until Tuesday, I decided Monday lunch was going to be more than sandwiches or take out food. That is when I had another thought and my realization.

“Why did I think I couldn’t cook without a dishwasher?” I thought. “I went for years without a dishwasher and didn’t feel the need to use paper plates and plastic utensils.”

That was when I realized how conditioned I’ve become. There was a time when washing dishes was part of my day, and it was often a time I did some of my best thinking. Maybe it was even more meditating than thinking.

For example, on a bright morning up to my elbows in bubbles scrubbing a dish, I experienced what I call an enlightening moment. I was washing away, traveling down a path in my mind that took me deeper and deeper in to a discouraging place.

In the midst of that journey, I looked up from the sink at the beautiful morning outside my window. That is the awakening hit. The day was glorious and I had a choice, to keep going with my negative thinking or choose to let it go and enjoy the day. Either way, the time was going to pass as I washed those dishes. My choice was how I’d experience it.

Now I might have realized this in some other way, but the dishwashing gave me thinking time I wouldn’t have had if all I did was push a button to start a dishwasher. I guess it shows that every experience has something to teach us and that hole in my cabinets is a lesson in patience and appreciation. It is also a reminder that I can still cook a meal, wash dishes by hand and be just fine with it.

So did I call Lee and tell him to forget bringing the model that fills that hole? No way, it arrives today. The beauty of lessons is you learn them, benefit from the knowledge and then appreciate the hum of a bright new dishwasher.