The dishes won’t do themselves

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people don’t do the dishes. Like it’s really bad in my mind. I HAVE to do the dishes. If I have dishwasher, I always put my stuff in it. If I just have a sink, I will do dishes at least twice a day. This time around in Korea, my director had to buy all new dishes for me so I have a 16 piece dish set. 4 small plates, big plates, bowls and mugs. Last time I had like one BIG bowl, and one plate. I could have bought more but I didn’t. Utensils are more on a 1 of each type deal right now, so I have to do dishes every meal. I will never go to work with dishes left in the sink. I can’t – it like haunts me.

But honestly, the way that a kitchen looks, is pretty much how I think you view your life. Sure other rooms can be messy, life happens and sometimes you just don’t have time to vacuum or clean that mirror that has all those hand prints on it. But the kitchen, that’s the life blood of my house. As a family we eat there, we cook there, we entertain there. It’s the first thing that people see when they walk into my parent’s house. And if it’s messy, I just personally feel like you don’t care.

Other reasons why I hate dirty dishes: they are SO much harder to clean after sitting for a while. Sure, soak that pan in hot soapy water for a little bit but then go and actually WASH IT before the water turns cold. You’re just making it worse.

If you leave them sitting around, bugs start to collect. It draws them in, and other things. GROSS.

My mom was always complaining that I never put away my dishes when I lived at home. And it got a lot worse when I was making my final plans to leave (anything she could find to guilt me was fair game). But, I made 100% sure that after every meal I made for myself, I didn’t leave anything on the stove, on the counter or table. Nothing.

While completing my bachelor of education, I lived with a family friend and her daughter. We had gone to the same church growing up, and our families had known each other since I was 2. The mother was a law clerk, and her daughter, being just a month younger than me, was still in school completing her undergrad. She had a late start to the university game – she dropped out of high school and started as a “mature student” at 21. During the time I lived with her, she was 25.

I posted on facebook that I was in need of a low cost room for the year while I was in town, and reached out to my friends and church members to see if anyone had any contacts. Well, the daughter said that they rent out their basement and I was free to come see it at any time. I went with my mom, and it was nice. The house was a tad messy but the room in the basement was clean and nice. There was a 2 piece bathroom at the top of the stairs that I was told would be mostly mine, but I would have to go all the way to the top floor to shower. Which was fine by me. The kitchen was A MESS. I’m talking, a two basin sink FULL TO OVERFLOWING with dishes, the adjoining counter full of dishes, and even some of the flat top stove had dirty dishes on it.

I should have taken that as a sign. It did not get any better over the course of the 10 months that I was there. I moved in two weeks early – but still gave them at least 2 weeks’ notice before I made the move. I had booked my trip to Scotland for the week before school, so I wanted to get settled before the trip. I paid half a month’s extra rent and it was all good. When I got there, the house was still messy, the kitchen not much better. I was told to help myself to their food and that while I was gone they would make room in the fridge for me.

I returned to no room in the fridge, no room in the cupboards for my dishes. I had to literally force the daughter one afternoon to help me clear off a shelf in the fridge just so I could store some simple things. Their fridge was part of the problem as well. Every cubic inch of that fridge was monopolized. There was no room to fit anything. They would go to Costco and buy enough food to feed a small village, and then get take out every night. Eventually just throwing away the food in their fridge.

The mother would wake up some mornings, and I would find her on the couch, in her pajamas, with a cloth over her eyes, arm across her forehead “oo I have such a migraine today”. So I would be as quiet as possible getting ready for school. Shower fast, take my blow dryer to the basement and shut the door to block the noise, tip toe, whisper etc. Go to class, come home at around 1130-12 and the mom was up, showered, ready to go – her and her daughter were going to the movies. Her daughter wasn’t going to class that day, she wasn’t feeling well. She “wasn’t feeling well” enough to get extensions on all her papers, the ones that were supposed to be done in April were now due the first week of September. She was diagnosed with depression and mild bipolar, so her counsellor would write her notes to get things shifted (which honestly is totally legitimate! Except she did it for all her classes, every term).

The daughter had a friend stay over one weekend. They were going to a friend’s wedding and this girl was in the bridal party. I didn’t meet her that evening, since she came in after I was asleep, but I woke up to her! She slept on the couch, and was using my bathroom, which was totally fine. What wasn’t fine was waking up to find her makeup, including black mascara streaks, all over my white face cloth. And to see her in the kitchen, eating my food, drinking my coffee and using my creamer from the only shelf in the entire fridge which she was told was mine.

And then we come back to the kitchen. I don’t know how they made so many dishes eating take-out all the time. Finally at around Christmas, I asked the daughter to keep one side of the sink clean. Both sides we always so full I couldn’t wash my dishes. Do what you want with your stuff, but at least allow me to keep my things clean. So over Christmas break, they cleaned out half the sink for me. When I left for March Break (like for elementary school! WOOT) there wasn’t a clean fork in the entire house. When I came back TEN DAYS LATER, still no clean forks. NOT A SINGLE ONE!

I once half watched the mom “do the dishes”. I was prepping my breakfast for the week, making little egg cups in advance, and just happened to see her methods. She would take the plug and fish around until she got it in place. Then put some soap into the full sink, and fill it with hot water. Next, let the dishes sit for about 20 minutes (gotta let the water cool down ya know, don’t want to burn yourself). Last, come back to the kitchen, turn the tap on in the empty sink and rinse the soap off the dishes, placing the “clean” dishes into the drying rack. Ummm yeah ok…

I saw this kitchen as a metaphor for their lives: They used everything around them to their advantage (aka the dishes to eat off of) until they had exhausted all the possible options – sick days at work, friends giving rides, dropping classes, not doing papers, not taking meds and then wondering why they feel like crap. Once all that is done, then they will put in half the effort to tidy up their mess, just enough to make it look like they attempted some effort, and then repeat the cycle again.

So whoa….just re-read what I typed out there, and I was not intending to vent all of that today! Guess ya never know where a prompt might lead you!

So bottom line: just wash your dishes!

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