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Front Page » August 20, 2002 » Opinion » The dishwasher blues strikes home
Published 4,454 days ago

The dishwasher blues strikes home


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By RICHARD SHAW
Staff reporter

I have spent much of my life trying to figure out how mechanical devices work. Just about the time I think I have seen every kind of machine and device I could possibly ever have to deal with a new one comes along to tear down my comfortable and stable world.

My latest foray into the world of unknown devices was an experience with the machine known as a dishwasher. This is a machine that everyone seems to want if they don't have one or if they had one before and have somehow lost access to one.

Now I understand the ease of having a dishwasher, but the ease of installing one, well that is a different story.

Actually for years we did without it at my house. I know this wasn't easy on my wife, but I did do the dishes sometimes and I found the experience to be rather soothing and gratifying. Okay, I hear the collective groan from all the women out there over that statement. But I did. I mean for a change I got to stand in one place and put my hands in nice warm water. When you think about it, what is the difference between that and how many people like to soak their feet.

There were other advantages too. I mean when I was done, I didn't have to worry about cleaning my fingernails. I particularly liked washing dishes after I had done some work on many of my old junk cars because that was the only way I could get the grease out of the creases on my hands.

But I digress. Let's get back to the problem of the device itself. After spending years working on many kinds of mechanical marvels and electronic elaborations, who would think that the technology of a dishwasher could have given me such problems as it has in the last few years.

It began when we owned a small home in Kenilworth. When we moved in it didn't have a dishwasher. Once that problem was recognized we immediately began looking for one. Being cheap I didn't want to spend big bucks on a new one so I convinced my wife to look through the want ads and at yard sales for one.

Eventually she found a woman that had one for sale that claimed the dusty unit that was sitting in her garage was only a year old. She told us it worked fine, but that her husband had bought her a new and much better one and they had replaced the "old" one with that machine.

We paid the money and I hauled it home and put it in our storage shed. There it stayed for almost a year before I finally felt the pressure to try and install it. I cut a place in the kitchen cupboard for it and there it sat for some time. After all it was installed; it just wasn't hooked up.

I tried to find some other fool to hook it up for me, but no one would take the bait. I even tried to pay people, but no one wanted my money.

Finally, we moved out of the house and bought a place in Carbonville that already had a dishwasher.

But we decided to remove the one I had "installed" in the cabinet and bring it along because the one in the house we were buying was so old, and of course we were padding ourselves against possible dishwasher failure.

But the old harvest gold portable that had been installed as more permanent fixture kept on working. In fact, it worked for three years until we decided to remodel the kitchen.

I have to admit the only thing we had against that machine was the fact that it was harvest gold.

So I gave the dishwasher to my son, who put wheels back on it, painted it white and put the appliance in his house. It is still working today.

Of course at the time I gave the appliance to him, I had images of the other dishwasher I had purchased residing in the cupboard and working even better than the gold one had.

But I failed to consider the amount of time it would take to remodel the kitchen.

Finally, after about six months, the new cupboards were in place and I was ready to install our great purchase we had made years ago.

But before installing the dishwasher, I had the idea that maybe I should hook up the water and power to it to be sure it was going to work correctly, since the kitchen appliance had never really run in our presence. So on the patio I hooked up a hose to it and plugged in some power.

I pushed the buttons, eagerly anticipating the purr of a fine machine running through it's cycles.

The dishwasher didn't work. The appliance just sat there like a lump of, well, dead metal and didn't even make a sound when I tried to start it.

Upon closer examination I found the controls were shot and to replace the devises would have cost so much that it just wasn't worth repairing

This piece of junk that I had put in one cupboard and removed, hauled and stored all over the place and spent much time and consternation dealing with both mechanically and, I might say, emotionally ( and it was getting more emotional by the minute) and that I had trusted to set me free from the plate anxiety hanging over my head, had failed to live up to it's promise.

That was the end

I almost single-handedly hoisted the dishwasher into the back of my pickup truck and drove directly to the garbage dump.

So there was a hole in the cupboard as well as one in my pocket and I could see that hole was only going to get bigger.

I suggested to my wife we try to find another used dishwasher, but that overture was quickly rejected. She was right - I was "dishwasher challenged."

I had met my mechanical match. Never again would I try to match my intellect or mechanical skills with the likes of a Kitchen Aid or Kenmore household appliance.

I admit that I took the man's way out. I purchased a new dishwasher, one that had - gulp - instructions with it.

At first I didn't know what the instructions were, having never used them.

But my wife pointed out the ease of using instructions in addition to the fact that, if I didn't, the appliance probably wouldn't work right and I would be the one doing the dishes from then on.

Amazingly, I managed to follow all of the funny little drawings, some of which were if five different languages, included with the instructions.

And the dishwasher worked; in fact, it worked very well.

But don't think that cured me of trying to figure things out on my own. Nope. From now on I'll use the instructions, but it'll be my way. I'll use the instructions to pad my old knees when I have to lean on the ground, working on whatever it is I bought and have to put together.


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August 20, 2002
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