There's a truth at the heart of adulthood, and it's this: You're going to spend vast amounts of time and money just to maintain things as they are, or slightly worse. You won't move the ball forward. Not at all. At the end of entire days you'll realise all you've done is gotten back to zero. Except poorer.
I have a dishwasher. I have had the dishwasher for eight years. Some time about a year ago, my dishwasher lost the will to live. Since then, it's been engaged in a concentrated campaign to force me to put it out of its misery. Attempt have included:
- vomiting crud all over the top dishes
- vomiting crud all over the top dishes and baking it on
- no longer drying dishes
- refusing to close without lifting the door up as you latch it
- refusing to open unless you batter the handle with a screwdriver.
Fool you dishwasher. I'm enjoying battering you with a screwdriver.
Each of these various failings requires one or more complicated, time-consuming, and frequently disgusting fixes. I have soaked the arms in vinegar and then in CLR. I have removed the arms and washed them. I have unscrewed all of the dishwasher parts and cleaned the filter. I have done it again. I have tightened the screws for the door. I have run a cycle just with bleach. I have run one just with CLR. I cleaned out two really gross clogs. I feel pretty free to experiment with this dishwasher, because I don't think it's long for this world anyway, so I'm not suggesting you start taking stuff off of your appliances or anything. Each dishwasher hack rendered the dishwasher in a passable, slightly-less-inferior state.
Well, it became obvious that the water pressure was going, and also the opening-up wasn't going to start happening again. We called in the technician. He informed us that the dishwasher is beyond fixing: the top arm lolls forward, a piece has detached from the plastic basin, and a valve is gone. So we are living with the inferior dishwasher.
At some point in the near future I won't be able to stand it, and I will finally get a new dishwasher.
I do not want a new dishwasher. I was happy with my dishwasher of a year ago, before it decided it wanted to die. Dishwasher technology does not excite me, and I do not lust after china cycles or metal basins. So by the end of this I will have spent a number of very unpleasant hours, the cost of a technician visit, and the cost of a new dishwasher. And what will I get from it? Clean dishes. I _had_ clean dishes. I had clean dishes just last year.
My dishwasher situation is a running in place incident. I spend time, I spend money, and I don't get anything I want from it. I get the status quo ante. But with less money. And irritation.
Other popular running in place scenarios include:
- Almost any reason for which one might see a dentist;
- Tickets, parking or moving;
- Redoing knitting I had thought was fine the first time;
- Teaching my child punctuation, again;
- Any missive or instruction from the municipal government;
- Almost all repairs of anything;
- Replacing or locating lost items, especially those lost by children;
- 90% of housework.
See, the problem isn't that so much of what I do is drudgery, even if a lot of it is. It's that it's drudgery in pursuit of making it to zero. And every morning is a new opportunity to let my life be dictated by the appliance that's stopped working, the newest whim of the local government (twice the parking tickets, half the trash pick up), or the discovery that 53 rows back in this sweater I K2 where I should have P2 and now it looks decidedly odd.
Okay, so this is a worse week than usual, and if it ever stopped raining, I might be more chipper. But I know now why my high school will never invite me to give chipper addresses to graduates. My address would be two sentences: "Large parts of your adulthood will be spent trying to get even to where you were yesterday. And by the time you die, you're going to have done an epic amount of housework."