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Appliance Envy

Elbows-deep in suds, I envy my home-owning friends. Last in a series of seven stories about renting.

Carys Cragg 29 Nov

Carys Craig is a college instructor and writer on issues from behavioural change to health care improvement to parenting. Her writing has been featured in numerous professional magazines such as Cognica, Insights, Canadian School Counsellor, and Perspectives, along with consumer-based magazines and blogs Guru and PinkMomBlueMom, and the literary anthology, The Places We've Been: Field Reports from Travellers Under 35.

"My dishwasher is broken!" my friend wails into the phone. She's calling from the home she owns in the suburbs. "To repair it is going to cost as much as we paid for it," she sighs.

I stand, listening on the earpiece phone that leaves my hands free to deal with the mountain of dishes in my sink. I roll my eyes in dissatisfied, jealous aggression.

Oh, dishwasher! How I long for you.

Fine, I get it. I'm single, renting in the city. If there existed a list of people most deserving of a coveted dishwasher, my name should be last: after all, I have no dependents, I entertain minimally, and despite my recent efforts to learn to cook for my adult self, I'd estimate half of my meals are ordered in or enjoyed out.

My friends with babies, with actual homes, and with larger-than-one-member families, with all of their washing needs clearly much greater than my own, are the ones who really deserve the convenience and care of a dishwasher. But I want one. And it's a desire I just can't shake.

Scrubbing solo

On a renter friend's recommendation, I find myself walking through London Drugs' small appliance section. The blinding fluorescent lights only slightly interfere with my focus as I gaze at white boxes marked with $49.99 to $229.99 price tags. The miniature dishwasher, marketed to sit on my (unavailable and non-existent) counter space, smirks at me. I return home empty-handed.

Back in my kitchen, the dishes pile up. It is the last task of the day I wish to tackle. I could be doing so many other things, my mind nags. I think of the dishwasher as a perfect machine, a technological marvel of efficiency, a feminist icon of change humming my material woes away.

As my occasional Facebook posts declare -- When I grow up I desire a dishwasher! -- I associate owning one with success, with development, with truly becoming.

Painfully entertaining games of "Would You Rather" are common among my renter friends: Would you rather have a dishwasher or a washer- dryer set?

Clearly, this question poses a dilemma for some -- the vote is split 50/50 on the many comments accumulating on my Facebook timeline. But not for me.

I can trek my clothes to my parents/friends/laundromat. I cannot do the same with dishes. Imagine carrying dishes out of the house to be washed.

Many LOLs and Likes follow, and I scowl at the screen. I've been inside their homes. They all have dishwashers. They don't understand. The jealousy continues.

You are not your dishwasher

But then I wonder.

I worry I have walked down a dangerous path of giving the dishwasher too much power, too much status for its own good. Deciding to look at the bright side of things, and avoid "first-world-problems" critique, I stand reflective at the sink.

As I wash my dishes one by one, I place them on the stylishly-sourced chrome dish rack. The sound of running water and the Ideas show on CBC Radio fill the room. I stare out my window at the stunning views of English Bay, and distract my thoughts from the overwhelmingly busy work day.

The repetitive action of scrubbing is soothing. Could there be a better domestically-inclined feeling than this? The accomplishment! The satisfaction!

Until I am graced with the luxury, the privilege, and comfort of a dishwasher, I have decided: I will revel in all the glory of doing dishes by hand.

And, of course, I'll try my best not to let the dishes accumulate. At least not too much.  [Tyee]

Read more: Housing

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