I reckon the tornado never came. At some point someone had prepared for its disastrous results, but it never happened. The preparation took the form of an old storm cellar. When I was a kid that old storm cellar had been there for quite some time. I’d never been in it though, nor had I known of anyone who had, leastwise not for a storm. Its age was told by the mature grass that grew on the dirt hill covering it.
The entrance to the cellar faced the house and taking off in both directions from its door was the fence that separated the yard from the cow pasture. Many a time was spent playing on top of that cellar mound. The danger involved in being on top of the cellar was not from the height of its peak, but from its proximity to the Brahma bull in the pasture. Playing up there was quite a risky venture when the old grey bull was anywhere nearby, but we took our chances often enough and escaped for our lives if the bull ever came too close.
In our growing up years we spent lots of time there at our cousins’ house. It was there that we were introduced to country living at its finest, which involved lots of country food in the kitchen, including chocolate gravy. Taking a biscuit and sopping up that butter as it melted in a puddle of steaming hot chocolate gravy was heavenly. One other thing that we were introduced to at their house while we were there was the monstrosity in the corner of the kitchen—something I’d never seen before.
Several times we had been in that kitchen, and every time I sat and wondered what on earth that thing was. Then one day I got to see it in action. As the table was being cleared, Nina walked across the kitchen, grabbed hold of the thing, and wheeled it over to the sink. I watched in amazement as she loaded all of the dishes inside, and then she did the most amazing thing of all. She grabbed a hose and connected it to the faucet on the sink, and before I knew what was going on, the machine began roaring. Voila! There stood a machine in front of her sink that was washing the dishes for her. How cool was that?
Up until that time the only name I knew of that we called the dishwasher was Mom, not Maytag. But as we got older and more was expected of us, the dishwashing chores soon became one of the regular duties of my sister and I. We soon had a schedule worked out in which we would take turns washing as the other one did the rinsing. Many years passed by of washing the dishes by hand, but we soon got up to speed with modern technology and got an automatic dishwasher of our own. The truly amazing thing about our new dishwasher, though, was that it was actually installed in the cabinet. No monstrosity, no hoses. Mom must have surely been pleased with Dad that day.
With the modern technology of our world it’s hard to imagine the idea of a house without the luxury of a dishwasher in the kitchen. Our house is no exception. When we built our house five years ago it was never a question as to whether or not we would have a dishwasher, only where it would be located.
Given the size of our family I’d say that our dishwasher gets a good bit more activity than the one in most folk’s houses. Hearing it run in the evening shortly after dinner is commonplace. But about a year ago, after we had had it for only four years, it began making some sounds during our evening serenade that mimicked a choking yodeler. Annoying as it was we continued to use it nonetheless. There were, however, a couple of advantages to continuing to run the dishwasher as is. The first and obvious thing was that it continued to get the dishes clean, no problem. Secondly, if we could endure the screeching sounds that it continually belched out, it did a great job of drowning out the sounds of screaming kids in the evening.
Being the reluctant repairman that I am, I endured the ear-piercing sound for several evenings before I decided that enough was enough. I had already begun the process of checking on pricing for new dishwashers, which was frightful. So, not having a clue what I was doing, I gathered up a few tools and dove in head first, literally.
Upon initial inspection of the drain slots around the bottom I discovered an extremely worn child’s necklace, and I hadn’t even removed any screws yet. Maybe this was the culprit of our noise but it seemed much too easy. It was. Shutting the door and turning it on confirmed it. I’m guessing that it might have been quieter on the deck of an aircraft carrier while fighter jets are being scrambled into the air.
Surgery was inevitable. If I was going to have to replace this beast I might as well finish it off by jerking its guts out into our kitchen floor. So I began pulling parts off. I didn’t get too far, having pulled the spinning arm off, when I discovered a bushing in the arm assembly that seemed as though it had seen better days. It didn’t seem like this could be the sole source of our noise, but it was worth a shot, so I headed to the parts store the next day.
On day number two, with five bucks less in my wallet and part in hand, I rolled up to the patient and installed its new organ. As I sewed it up and brought it to life, it coughed and sputtered with the same sounds as before—nothing. This meant that I was going to have to go in deeper. So, bellied up on the open door like a turtle on a log, I got serious and began pulling the next level or two of parts out, carefully laying them in order to assist my memory should I in fact be able to put the thing back together.
Now that I had gotten into its abdomen I could sure enough see the source of the problem. It looked like one of those animal shows on TV where they catch a giant shark and cut it open to see what it had been eating for the past several years. Just like the shark, our dishwasher had been chomping on things that were never intended to flow through its pipes.
Imbedded in the belly of our faithful kitchen servant was the following: a safety pin, a rubber doll shoe, a piece of plastic about the size of a dime, a grapefruit seed, a piece of gravel about half the size of a pea, a piece of rubber tubing about a quarter inch long, and last but not least, a two inch long chicken bone. Thankfully, no meat was presently attached to the chicken bone. This was all in addition to the previously found necklace. I wonder who deposited all of these lovely items in our kitchen vault!!??
Eureka! I had hit the jackpot. I don’t know if removal of any of these items was going to be the cure, but I was sure hopeful at this point. After saving our machine from yacking on the bone in its craw, I excitedly began putting things back together, and before I knew it I had it back in its original condition, minus some baggage.
Relieved to be off of my belly (I’m sure the dishwasher door was relieved as well), I backed up, shut the door, pushed a few buttons, and waited impatiently as the water filled. In a short while a new song was playing in my ears, the gentle sound of a fine tuned instrument serenading me in our kitchen. Ahh, the satisfaction of a job well done.
Now, for a volunteer—the sink was overflowing. Anyone? Anyone?
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, August 1, 2010.