I worry a lot about dishwashers.
I mean, I really worry about them.
I’m always worrying, as I load a dishwasher, that the dishwasher will let me down.
I worry about parting the plates, adjusting the gap just wide enough to give every fighting chance I can to the dishwasher.
I worry as I turn everything upside down to stop the water forming little reservoirs in the salad spoons.
I worry about carefully angling my knives and plates, the way tall people bend under low ceilings, because apparently my tiny dishwasher wasn’t designed to hold the crockery of human beings.
I worry as I play Tetris with the dishes, twisting and turning everything, looking at the things I couldn’t fit in, and worrying that some of them ought to fit in, and taking something out, like a porridge-coated pan, wondering what I was thinking in any case to be putting something like that in, and shuffling the plates around to make space, and feeling the crusted-on potatoes and slimy baked beans, and wondering, Maybe I’m asking too much of my dishwasher, and rinsing the plates in the sink thinking, Why am I rinsing these plates? What’s the point even having a dishwasher?
And even after I’ve stabbed my best guess into the hieroglyphic keypad, and my dishwasher is whirring and churning and flushing precious water like a toilet, I’m still worrying even then, my mind is turning over and over to the rhythm of the dishwasher, preparing myself for the potential sight of a single dirty plate, staring back at me, through the hazy fog of the opening dishwasher, with big round tea-stained eyes and an avocado sneer, begging to be accidentally-on-purpose smashed into the sink as I set out to manually re-do whatever the dishwasher could not.
I have a lot of feelings about dishwashers.
But here’s the important thing Field Marketing has taught me about dishwashers.
The thing about dishwashers is this: they are incredibly useful. Within my role here at eXPD8 they are essential. Whether it is the automated function of an excel reporting file, or the help of our administration team, or the visit screening run through our compliance check function, or the fulfilment I’ve outsourced, I need the sanctuary created by the dishwasher space, a space I can throw in my dishes, press the magic button, and leave the machine to its own devices, humming a soundtrack to my oasis of calm.
You see, I have a feeling I’m not fully right about dishwashers. I’m not fully wrong either. But I’ve found that when I’m worrying, my worries often say more about me than the things that I’m worrying about. It’s certainly true with dishwashers. If I slow everything right down at the planning stage, at the point of loading the dishwasher, to invest just a little more time considering the realistic limitations of the dishwasher function, and to upskill myself to program and use the dishwasher properly, that’s when it becomes a real lifesaver.
That’s when it becomes the reason I sink or swim after a hectic meal. Because even though a dishwasher washes other people’s crockery along with mine, somewhat generically, perhaps even crudely, it does so with a broad and efficient sweep, covering far more ground, much more quickly than I could.
What a dishwasher cannot replicate of course, is my nuanced scrub of each item, tailored with the intimate knowledge I have of every little crack and curve of each bowl, with the paternal love I feel for every spoon. Such precision is clearly beyond the scope of a dishwasher. Plainly, that is not what a dishwasher is designed to do.
I can’t kick my dishwasher for disregarding these finer details, any more than I can kick it if it doesn’t roast my potatoes properly or if it doesn’t give me a manicure. So the question I end up grappling with every single day, is how much I can realistically ask of the dishwasher function, how much of these requirements are truly necessary, and how much time I ought to spend personally at the sink, with the fine china, processing those few choice forks urgently, picking up the slack in the interim while I wait for the current load to finish, or as I wait for that Amazon delivery of tablets, all the while compromising the time I could be spending on other household tasks.
I am still figuring out how best to navigate this delicate balance, day by day, to find what works for my own awkward assortment of tableware, and to account for the outcome of these choices. Although I am quicker than most to raise the challenges of the dishwasher, I am learning to understand that some of these limitations are in my own mind. I can shrink them if I adjust my perspective. If I use the dishwasher more often, I will always have tablets. I will always know where the tablets are. I will always have a dishwashing slot booked.
I will decipher those hieroglyphic icons. I will develop my initiative in loading, and I will make quicker decisions on what to include with each cycle. I will use the dishwasher to create more time for myself, while I leave the dishwasher to run, which I will re-invest in planning to get the dishwasher serviced or upgraded, or in having serious discussions about how to use the dishwasher, which will help reduce the anxiety I feel about it.
I will learn to let go of the controlling instinct that wants me to hold on to the dishwashing. I will trust the dishwasher more, so that I spend less time rinsing the plates before every cycle, and less time inspecting them afterwards. Most crucially, I will learn to offload all that mental weight, once I’ve farmed out all my dishwashing, so that I can focus my efforts better on the remaining saucepans, now neatly organised in an uncluttered sink.
There will always be times when I need to allocate myself a portion of the washing up, for whatever reason. There are benefits to keeping myself skilled in the basics of washing by hand, not least to prepare for the inevitable power cuts and breakdowns, and to stay close to the detail so I can help program the outputs I need. I know which way I lean here, and I don’t expect this to fully change. But I have also learnt, over the course of the last 5 years in this busy Field Marketing role, that I need to offload pressure wherever I can, and let some accountabilities sit well and truly elsewhere.
After all, when next Christmas rolls around, and the back-to-back dinner parties begin once again, I don’t want to be the one person huddled into the kitchen corner at 11pm at night, all alone and on the verge of a breakdown because it’s time to serve dessert and my sink is piled so high with chopping boards that I don’t even have the space to rinse my ice cream scoop.