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It was always the same.
Loading the dishwasher was never a glamorous job, but it was something I'd learnt to make the most of. I felt something of a oneness with the dish brush, the handle filled with the vivid purple soap, dispensed through its all-too-worn brushes with a squeeze of the handle. I'd joked that I wanted a new one of these for Christmas. In a way, though, I'm not sure if I could handle that. This brush and I have been through a lot together. A lot of cups with all manner of clabber at the bottom of them; plates with remnants of food I can't even remember eating; cereal, stuck to the bottom of bowls with incredible resolve. They ought to stick those heat tiles on the space shuttle using soggy corn flakes. They'd never have any problems with them coming off, then.
The top shelf was always the easiest. First the cups, once, of course, they'd been retrieved. The ones that had been sipped out while watching TV, left on the coffee table; the ones on the bedside tables that had held our midnight sleepytime drinks; those which had inexplicably ended up in the other room and been forgotten about, sat there abandoned. There was surely some moral about what labor-saving devices had done to our society, here. That so few of us could completely fill a top shelf with soiled cups from one load to another? That seemed something like inordinate extravagance. I remember the "good" old days, only having one cup, one bowl, one plate. If they were clean, I ate. If they were soiled, that was a meal I missed. Nothing was more encouraging than hunger to make sure the chores got done.
The bottom shelf followed, by now, I was well into the swing of it. The plates, encrusted with the remains of the meals, got a cursory rinse and scrub with the brush before getting loaded in, then the various kitchen miscellany; the mixing bowls, the measuring containers, the smaller saucepans, the cheese grater, all jiggling and jostling for position between the tines of the lower rack. A small optimization exercise; it was surely possible to get them all in, get the entire sinkful done in one go. It just needed a bit of creative packing, that's all. This smaller container could go under this larger one; there, plenty of room. Next, the utensils, an easy enough job. Picking them up, meticulously yet subconsciously sorting them, putting the forks into this side of the basket, then the knives, then the spoons.
There it was again. As always, the same leftover in the bottom of the sink. The unidentifiable lid, seemingly always filthy. It must be part of the food processor, but I never knew where it belonged. I scrubbed it briefly with the brush, placed it in an empty slot on the top shelf, put the soap tablet in, closed the lid, and started the machine.
It was always the same. But perhaps this time, I would learn something new.
Unloading the dishwasher was never a glamorous job, but it was something I'd learnt to make the most of. The organizing, the putting away, the making the most of the space we had, all seemed to bring its own reward. The cups and glasses never seemed to fit back in the cupboard where they belonged; the plates balanced precariously; the storage containers were just squeezed in wherever space remained. One day I'll reorganize this cabinet. Not today. And last, but not least, the leftover. The curious lid. I took it and placed it next to the blender. Someone else would know how exactly it fit.
"It's very clean," the familiar voice uttered. "You do such a good job with that, every time."
"Thanks, love," I replied sheepishly. "I still don't know where it goes, though."
"Back in the sink. It's the plug to the waste disposal."Related articles