The gleaming stainless steel dishwasher made its way home after a 2 week waiting period. There was great rejoicing in the house when we switched it on for the first time, since we could not hear it. The previous dishwasher was an autocratic leader. When it spoke, no one else could. This was a problem because that meant we could only use the dishwasher between the sweet hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. (we have a gamut of late-sleepers and early risers in the household who just don’t get the beauty of a long night’s sleep), and since there was no timer, the autocrat was ousted. But as with the end of every regime, there was euphoria initially followed by a period of wistful thinking and even yearning for the old dishwasher. If only ousted monarchs stayed to watch the wistful periods, they might have died happy deaths, but since most of them were taken in bloody coups, the chances of that were slim. So, it was with our dishwasher.
Every night, I washed the dishes almost clean and then placed them in the new dishwasher to completely clean, set the timer to start 4 hours later, smiled triumphantly at everyone in the room and went to bed. Things were marvelous the first few days, we ran the dishwasher right through our conversations and there was not even a beep and all the stake holders were happy. Things started to crumble toward the end of week 1. The grim period was about to begin.
You know how in the old dishwasher, we knew right away whether it was allowed to complete its job or not because the dials were so prominently placed – like bright large bindis on a broad forehead?
The new one, had the controls hidden, so there was no way to know whether it had done its job. Absolutely poker faced. Now, one was stuck with the joyful task of identifying the almost clean ones to wash again. The only possible way to know was by feeling the dishes. Looking at the dishes were a fat help because they looked almost clean. The first few times we figured the dishwasher had stopped midway through, we had already put away more than half the dishes. I don’t know about you, but none of us in our house have eidetic memories. In fact, it isn’t far from the truth to say that we give as much attention to the intensely-dull tasks such as putting away the dishes as a well-fed cat does to a caring otter. http://www.themarysue.com/indifferent-cats/ Given this, how was one to find the dishes that were almost clean and put away?
There were brilliant suggestions to ascertain the ones that were in the dishwasher when it decided to go belligerent and stop working on us. “Smell every cup” said one with a long nose, “Just look closely” said the one who forgot to wear spectacles, “Maybe we should try to pat every cup and examine the tissue paper we used to see whether it needs cleaning” said the environmentalist. So, we’d wash all the cups and plates again to make sure.
After the fifth time, the husband took command. He placated the dishwashing public. His spirited speech to remain calm was heard and he contacted the service desk. A repairman would be sent between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. said the appointment. So, the house waited for the men of action to arrive.
The father-in-law is a man of practical talents. He has a way around fixing the odd things in somewhat odd-fashions, but they work. He also takes a keen interest in seeing how things are fixed. The mother-in-law knows her limits in this realm and prudently keeps away, but feels obliged to point out to her husband that he must fearlessly question and prod. Luckily, they don’t know English and the Spanish speaking repairmen did not know Tamil. One shudders to think of the outcome had they understood each other. I formed a loose sort of dam between the spate of questions from the household and them. “Why was it broken? Is the connection to the water-hose done properly? Do they really know how to fix it? They look young, they look like they eat chips a lot, do you think they will ask for juice? If they ask for coffee, we need to buy a can of milk in the evening. When you are at it, also buy tomatoes.” I have to marvel at the ability to fit a grocery list into the proceedings when one is questioning means and methods of dishwasher repair.
The sliding rack was the problem said the knowledgeable men and though question arrows were splicing my back (Are they sure the rack is the problem? What if the cup area was the problem? How did they know the rack was the problem?), I bore the arrows painfully on my back, asked them civilly to drink up a cup of orange juice and sent them on their way. There was talk about me being a softie and not being brave enough to ask them all the questions, but one cannot please everybody. You either pleased the d.repair folks who displayed something like brute strength when they lunged the rack out of the dishwasher, or you pleased the parents-in-law who shot grocery lists at you during dishwasher repair. Not both.
To save you all from the events of the next few painful days, I implore you to go back and read paragraphs 3,4 & 5 again. The husband, this time, was asked to take a firm stance and ask for a different set of repairmen, but really, what could you ask to see? Their poly-technic certification? What if their degree, if they did have one, was for repairing washing machines, but they picked up dishwashers along the way? You were fighting a losing battle with this and he knew it.
The second pair decided that the spine of the dishwasher was the problem. It pushed the rack out and that is why the dishwasher stopped working, they said. If it stops again, ask him if he will change the dishwasher for us, asked the parents.i.l. I tried telling them that these people had no clue whether the company would replace the dishwasher or not and that would be a different call to make. I could see my rationale was not being received well in their mind. With this, I seemed to have sunk even lower in the efficiency department. I went upstairs for a brief moment and I came back to see a thriving session of puppetry and dumb-charades flourishing between The Spanish and The Tamil. They managed to ask him their question and he was managing to smile at them and answer them something. I think he was saying, “Parrots also like green tea, have you tried giving them coffee? You should see their faces then!”
But everybody was happy and the second set departed. Before the third set came in, there was positive yearning for the old dishwasher. (At least, it just made a noise and if you did not have to watch TV or talk when it did its work, it did a marvelous job!) . Our dishwasher’s psyche was taking a beating and dishwashers from next door were ready to come and give the one in our house a hand.
To be continued: Dishwasher Chronicles Part 3 …..