Thursday, June 22, 2017

The World Needs Dishwashers

Dishwashing is only my first choice if my hands are cold.

Cold hands are not a problem at Kara Tepe, so I need to choose another reason for it being my first choice. I find it.

On my second day of helping at the daily great dishwashing gathering, there is a dearth of dishwashers. We begin with enthusiasm and many hands, but as the afternoon passes, it seems we lose everyone to more important work. In the midst of hundreds of containers, we are down to three willing saints: a dishwasher, a rinser, and a dryer. The work slows, moral drops. It seems we will never finish. Never.

The world needs more people who are willing to wash dishes. It's an epiphany so simple, I hate to even call it such. But it is, I can't deny it, and I join the army of willing dishwashers of the world. So, that night when we are almost finished, when it is 2:30 a.m., when everyone is tired, Sarah walks out of the kitchen trailer and announces, "I need three people for three different jobs." She begins with perhaps the worst job, the one she knows no one will volunteer for. I have found my reason for making dishwashing my first choice.

"Who will wash dishes?"

With a pause just a fraction of a second long, I speak up, "I will." Who is this lady ? I ask of myself. For I hardly recognize the voice from which it came.

Yet, there is satisfaction knowing I am doing the world's most dreaded work.

As soon as our children were old enough, they were handed a sponge and a dishtowel. Ha ha, we fooled them, Tony and I conspired in delight, because, at first, it was fun playing in soapy water. It didn't take them long to wise up.

First daughter was pragmatic. She just got it done. Second daughter loathed the task so much, she was willing to trade ten nights of dishes in order to get out of the task at hand. Ahhhh, the lessons children learn at home--how not to be swindled.

On another occasion, we had asked our neighbors and their six children to come for dinner. Tony cooked and I figured the clean up would fall to me. I had no intentions of letting our guests help with  dishes. But the mom of the crew did a great service; she looked me in the eye and said, "We are helping." I spent the next half hour in the company of happy, helpful people that taught me an important lesson. People always say "No," when you offer to help with the dishes, but they always appreciate the help. If they're like me, they remember the moment when you insisted and when love burned in their heart for you. Forever.

I had a new son-in-law, who after every family meal, jumped up to help me with dishes. Between the two of us, it was usually finished before anyone else could volunteer. I proudly told him, "If the ship goes down, I'm saving you."

After years of family dinners, after time and distance when it was their chore, everyone has learned to pitch in. For now, I will not only save everyone in my family, but I will be extra careful to make sure the ship doesn't have a leak.

Dishwashers endear their souls to the cook, to the host, to the world.

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