Lessons from the Dishwasher

The upheaval in the house cannot help but to be reflected in those of us who live here.


I experience — and I observe. Always.

Living room.jpg

We are completely out of sorts.

The dishwasher leak brought unwelcome and absolute chaos into every aspect of our lives.

One way I know I am a tangled up mess inside is that I have no words to adequately describe all this.

How do I convey the sense of violation — complete strangers literally and figuratively going through your private places to pack things up.

The fury — that a simple something done by someone else caused all this damage and all this everything.

The sense of dislocation and disorientation — I feel like I landed in a whole new world, complete with a new language. Replacement value and Depreciation and Subjugation and blah blah blah. Submit these and get up to this much and blah blah blah.


Did I really want to spend my summer — the end of my Sabbatical — navigating how to put back a kitchen on the amount allowed by insurance? Negotiating with them so that I can have matching cabinets and matching walls?!

“We just had a representative from Linley's Cabinets come out -- they installed the original cabinets.

I wanted to know from him if the lower cabinets were really damaged beyond help -- they are.

I also wanted to know how we could save the upper cabinets and still have a kitchen that matched. Unfortunately, this will not be possible. The original cabinets are custom-made oak.

Bottom line -- trying to save and match the upper cabinets would be more costly than just replacing all of the cabinets.

What can that information do to our cabinet replacement budget?”

Kitchen (1).jpg

I am reminded of the importance of letting people in crisis define their own experience, which — of course — changes by the minute, therefore making it hard to gauge what the right thing to say or do really is.

One minute I am happily envisioning my new kitchen — and then the next minute I am standing in the cabinet company’s lobby fighting back that wall of tears that is threatening to spill over as I explain things.

One minute I am managing to feel almost gratitude for the opportunity to sort and toss/donate — and then the next minute I am eating yet another salted caramel and fighting the tears and rage as I envision the Yelp review I will write if the appliance place or their insurance company does not reimburse our deductible.

And then I think that sounds a bit like extortion and I worry that my commitment to integrity and ethical behavior is being sorely challenged by this Great Dishwasher Fiasco of 2019.

Insert Glare here.

Insert Glare here.

There are worse things — this I know well.

And yet, reminding myself of that somehow creates even more burden — as if I should not be feeling as I do because other people have it worse than me.

Oh Dear.

Here is the generalizable Take Home Message, using the excellent example the Great Dishwasher Fiasco of 2019 provides:

If a person in crisis says, at least I get a new kitchen — go with it. Ask about the new kitchen.

If a person in crisis says, this is horrible — go with it. Make sympathetic sounds. Agree it is horrible and hard. Pass over tissue and salted caramels.

Be very careful about mixing all that up. Saying at least you get in a new kitchen in response to this is horrible is a Bad Idea.

Seriously Bad.