Love it or hate it: Doing the dishes

by Patty Templeton

Love itI enjoy being tidy. I keep my work desk clear, my car clean, my bed made, my counters wiped down. If my spaces aren’t wide and open, my mind gets weighed down. A sinkful of dishes makes me tense. My cooking process includes washing up as I go. I think dishwashers are magical.

The world is full of complicated decisions and moments that are wildly out of my control. I find solace in daily tasks that show immediate results and heighten my sense of self-mastery. Simple tasks get me to slow down. To be mindful. Something like the dishes can become a stress-reliever by listening to a podcast while doing them. Or just simply by noticing the warm water, thinking of the stories behind the objects in my hands, being appreciative that I have a sink to stand in front of that is in an apartment that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Dishes give me a period of reflection that I wouldn’t otherwise take time out a day to access.

Patty TempletonHate itIn the 19 years since I turned 20, I divide the time between the years I had a dishwasher and the years I didn’t. It’s not hard to remember because the six years I didn’t have a dishwasher actually lasted about 14 years.

If there’s one chore I hate most, it’s washing dishes. Seeing any kind of food – but, gawd, scrambled eggs especially – floating in murky water can literally induce vomiting. Feeling any kind of food unseen beneath brown, soapy wastewater can make me gag and squirm.

I’m normally just a garden-variety procrastinator, but when it comes to dishes, I am world-class, often letting hours and hours of dish piles accumulate on the counter, in the sink, and – gasp! – in the oven. Ever preheated an oven full of dirty dishes?

I’ve stabbed myself with hidden knives, fumbled and broken glasses because of clumsy, pruned hands, and endured many an achy back from standing hunched over the sink.

It’s been three years since I lacked a robot to wash my dishes for me, and I never plan on going back.

David Holub


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