The Curse of the First World

My dishwasher finally bit the dust.  I knew three years ago, the first time I used the machine that it’s motor was on the way out. Month by month the sound of the motor grinding grew louder.  When it finally quit I could only laugh. I had just bought a case of canning jars and wanted to put up some food.   I had to unload the machine and wash the dishes, including all those jars, by hand.

Mentioning the demise of the dishwasher to my daughter-in-law she asked if I wanted her to have my son send his appliance guy out (wait he has an appliance guy?). Shaking my head no, I informed her it was beyond repair and I could easily live without it.

She reminded me that a dishwasher is mandatory in any home she lives in, and if it were out of commission it would be a very bad day for her family to be around her.

Our conversation made me think of all the ways our conveniences lead to stress.

Take for instance a car. It’s nice to have the freedom of knowing a vehicle is ready at any moment to swiftly take us anywhere we care to go. But what happens to our day if we turn the key and the car doesn’t start?

We can over react. How am I going to make it to work on time? How will I get groceries today? How much is this going to cost? We allow that one interruption in our normal day to set the rest of our day up for failure after failure.

I once saw a photo of a family in a third world country who had a couple changes of clothes, a cow, a pot and large spoon for cooking in a book titled Material World by Peter Menzel Each family member had a bowl, spoon, and cup. The bowl and cup were made from wood. I wondered if a family member had carved each of those bowls and cups from wood he or she found.

I wondered how it would be to live with so little, could I survive, how hard would it be? Then I saw the looks on their faces, it was delight. They were proud of showing what they owned to the photographer. They were happy. There was nothing else you could have said about this family who had so few material possessions. They had what they needed, which included each other, and needed nothing else to be happy.

We think we could never live like that, yet  we ponder how this family was happy. The answer came to me instantly.  They were happy because they didn’t have the look of stress so many in the first world have.

No matter what our situation, each and every one of us has to take the good with the bad.  For my daughter-in-law no dishwasher is the end of the world. No dishwasher gives me the opportunity to play in sudsy water.

For that family with only a handful of possession, I wonder how they would react to an opportunity to have hot and cold running water in their home which we take for granted. Could it make them happier?

I wrote this a month ago and stuck it in my drafts to clean up when I had time.  With so many suffering from Hurricane Harvey I thought it was the right moment to post this.  There are thousands today in our country who don’t have a bowl, spoon and cup or a place to call  home, forget the dishwasher.

Our country rates poorly on helping those most in need after a disaster, just look at what happened after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Congress fought over funding to help the people.  Instead, there are many individuals who are doing what they can to help, not waiting for the government to do it all.  I want to leave you with this video of one person who can always be counted on regardless of how big or small the issue is.  J.J Watt said it best when he said “Thank you for showing there’s good in the world.”

 

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35 comments

  1. Lois
    All good points…very good.
    A similar sort of example….I have been realizing that we (in our house) all have too many clothes…

    Seriously. Now not a one of us is fashion plates, etc…BUT…I swear we have too many clothes

    It takes more work to keep them organised/clean etc.. I have found (for all in my house)…if we

    have extra/more clothes, there is much less care in taking care to keep them clean and in

    good nick. We are more careless, etc.. It is more work to wash when there is a big pile build up, etc..

    Yup, I am slowly working on whittling down this problem. (Please keep this just between

    you me and the millions of readers you have..grin). I am slowly picking up this or that, which may

    not have been worn in some time by family/self, and donating…(what I find, is the family

    wears their favorites, and some clothing does not get used unless there is a big pile

    of dirty clothes…Darn it all, I am slowly working on whittling down the options, so those clothes

    get washed. …)

    Now I realise excess clothing is not on the same level as those folks who made their

    own spoons…But it is a common “thing”, I believe in today’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excess clothing is a fantastic example of a first world problem and you have described exactly what is wrong with having too many. I’ve never had a huge wardrobe but when I have more it’s easy to put off the laundry until it becomes a real chore to get caught up. It’s also harder to find something to wear because in that larger wardrobe we have items we don’t particularly like to wear or becoming too worn to be appropriate for the occasion. I’ve gotten my clothes down to enough to fill one six-drawer dresser. Yes, all the clothes I need for the entire year fit in that one dresser.

      Good luck whittling down your wardrobe to what feels comfortable for you.

      Like

      • Thank you.

        it is tougher for me to whittle down others, but I DO..grin. When I notice something which has not been used for a year or more, I am pretty sure they will not miss it…so far so good…grin

        Like

          • Lois, I drew the very same line for YEARS…as in THIRTY yrs…

            I have finally come to realize they are serious packrats, in an unhealthy way. seriously.

            it is the only way I can get rid of anything…

            the charity I donate to, is happy to take even worn out things, as they bundle that up and sell as rags to some company, which in turn sells it some where to reprocess and make blankets and rugs.

            even four yrs ago, I would not have done this, but…

            Like

          • I’ve heard of places that donate the worn clothing to be recycled but haven’t found one in my area. I think we need a return of the fabric pickers. 🙂

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  2. This post reminds me of a movie I once saw about a brother and sister fleeing an abusive situation in central America. They literally went through hell to get to the US, and while they did get to experience the wonder of a flushing toilet, in many ways their lives turned out much worse than the lives they were fleeing. There was a scene near the end where the young woman remarks that from afar people only see the wonders of America, but what they don’t realize is how people have to work themselves to the bone just to stay afloat.

    Anyhow, is this dead dishwasher the one you bought when you moved in? That seems like a very short life for an appliance!

    Like

    • That movie doesn’t sound familiar so I’m guessing I never saw it. I think I would enjoy it. I once had a babysitter for my children that was new to this country. She came here from the Philippines and was shocked at all the conveniences we had. She said she was bored all the time because she didn’t have any thing to do. Like the movie, she always thought she’d like living here but once here she longed for the life she left behind. Said things moved too fast and people were preoccupied all the time so it was hard to even make new friends here.

      No, I didn’t buy the dishwasher, it came with the house. it’s a pretty old model but I have no idea how old it is.

      Like

  3. I actually prefer to hand-wash dishes, but I’m sure we’d have a tough time selling this place without a dishwasher, and since you have to run dishwashers regularly to keep them in good condition, we use it anyway (although I hand-wash all the pots, pans and mixing bowls).

    I’d probably feel different with a big family, but with 3 people, it seems so much easier to hand-wash after every meal and be done with it, instead of having days’ worth of dishes to put away at one time.

    Like

    • Me too, Christy, although not as much now that I have to wash the dishes from a seated position. It’s crazy how reliant we have become on all these appliances that we have to consider resale value should we remove them.

      If I wait until I have a full dishwasher to run it I wouldn’t have many dishes to use. Being alone it’s easier to just have a few things I need than lots of dishes. Washing for one person is super easy and even having a guest or two doesn’t make much of a difference.

      Like

  4. The dishwasher that came with my house is old and not that great. I use it primarily as a drying rack but run it once a month to keep the seals in good shape in case I have to sell the house. I can live without it quite easily. It is nice when I have a lot of company and they want to help with dishes. Some don’t clean well enough to sanitize so I have them put it all in the dishwasher. Keeps me from hurting feelings. I don’t live as simple as I could but have done so quite easily most of my life. I think I have more now than I need and am always happy to share. I’m not attached. I have clothes for working outside and getting really nasty, a paint outfit that is covered in paint and clothes to wear when I need to look nice. Most is at least 15 years old. I buy none. Just make what I have last forever. Nothing in there that I don’t wear. Warmer and cooler clothes. Really want to wear the warmer things again. I am with you in seeing no point in waste but I can be happy no matter what I have or not. That is a choice. I’ve had nothing and I’ve had more. The happiness comes from my decision to be happy, not because of what I have. I’m still catching up here. Hoping the smoke abates tomorrow. It is really bad here and I feel as sorry for those fleeing fire as those fleeing flooding. We are getting a wake up call here.

    Like

    • None of us live as simply as we probably could but I know you have made some tough choices to live simply. I hope you don’t have to sell your home any time soon as you’ve put so much into it to make it yours.

      I’m with you on the dishwasher. When I first moved in I thought I would pull it out but everyone talked me out of it. I would like to replace it with a cabinet but when I think about how short a time I may live here I know a dishwasher would up the house’s value as a rental property for my son. I may leave the plumbing set up and put a cabinet in that would be easy to remove if my son decides when the time comes to rent this to put another dishwasher in. My town is pretty economically depressed so there are few if any other rental properties with dishwashers in them.

      I happened on a video of the earthquakes and other natural disasters happening right now. It’s truly shocking to see the amount of fires, flooding and such happening all around the planet. If I were a religious person I could easily be swayed into believing this is the beginning of the apocalypse. When the heck are our leaders going to accept things are getting worse?

      Has the smoke lessened around you? I heard a fire just jumped the river on the Washington/Oregon border. I hope they get these fires under control soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We had RAIN last night. It started in Washington where the fires did jump to and came all the way down here. It wasn’t very much but better than nothing. As long as the wind comes off the west, we are good here but other’s are having the smoke. I don’t know what they are going to do with the kid that started it. It will cost his family everything they have before it’s over. I’ve been waiting for the earth to reclaim itself. Oklahoma is getting earthquakes all day everyday. Small quakes for now but you can’t keep sucking stuff out without something happening. I’m with you. This thing with N. Korea could push us to the brink. 2 narcissistic sociopaths butting heads will not end well. I have occasionally put all my washed dishes in the dishwasher and run just the rinse cycle to keep it clean and running well. They are standard in every place here. Neither of my kids are fond of dishes though my son will do them faster than my daughter. She’d rather take a beating. 😦 Hope you are doing well.

        Like

        • Yay!! I’m so glad you got a bit of rain even if it wasn’t a lot. We have more rain coming tonight. We are lucky to go two days in a row or in a week without rain.

          I’ve visited Oklahoma several times and find it shocking the number of earthquakes they are getting. They go from near zero to as you said all day long. Of course the powers that be won’t ban the fracking but instead are now adding the waste waters to the gulf of Mexico. They insist it was the injection of the waste waters that caused the quakes. Yet, we don’t see the quakes subsiding now that they have banned the injection of the waste water. One environmental problem after another.

          My boys hate washing dishes but I think my daughter-in-law is worse about washing them than the boys. I chock it up to them growing up during a period where the public opinion was that dishwashers should be standard in all kitchens whereas I grew up in a time when they were unheard of unless you were ultra rich. That said, I don’t think any of my kids would rather take a beating than do dishes. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear your dishwasher bit the dust Lois.. Hubby is my dishwasher, and says while he may be in need of some oil now and again, he hopes he will not wear out just yet.. .. LOL

    Dishwashers here are few and far between and our homes usually do not have . Unless you have them fitted. .. .. .. But I can see how one for yourself would help you loads..

    I am sure that you are right Lois, we may think we could not mange on less, but if you had to, you would. When I think back to when I was first married.. We managed on very little,
    I think the more we have the more we think we need.. And as you say, it only brings with it more stress..

    Like you I have often looked at tribes people in Africa, who have to walk miles for water, and have nothing.. Yet they smile and are happy..
    We think THINGS make us happy,, In fact it is our state of BEing that does that.. And I echo your thoughts about the car..
    When I got rid of mine,, It was a huge relief , not worrying about taxing and insuring it and maintaining it . 🙂

    Love and Hugs my friend.. Stay safe.. and well xx
    Sue xxx ❤

    Like

    • Sue, I couldn’t agree more with you. The more we have the more we adjust to the added stress these items bring with them and want more thinking it’s a good thing.

      I was just like you when I gave up my car. I was thrilled by the freedom I felt and no longer having to worry about insurance, inspections or maintenance.

      I’m enjoying hand washing dishes more now that the dishwasher doesn’t work and am considering replacing it with extra cabinetry. The only reason I would put another one in would be for future rental value. Not sure that’s a good enough reason. Love that your hubby is your dishwasher. Make sure you keep him oiled. 🙂 I find the differences between our countries to be interesting. Here everyone wants a dishwasher and if a kitchen doesn’t have one it’s hard to sell the house. It’s the same with master bedroom suites. Everyone wants their own bathrooms here. I look at extra bathrooms as another space that needs to be cleaned so one in my house is enough for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes the dish washer culture is not as important in our homes.. And it is usually on what we term as the ‘Posh People’ 🙂 who want to have them.. 🙂
        And yes Hubby is happy in the kitchen and is also an excellent cook.. He loves cooking main meals..
        While I bake and make puddings and cakes.. Soups etc… He is not afraid to wash up after him as he goes, He is very tidy, and I know I am blessed LOL 🙂

        Like

        • Growing up no one had a dishwasher. Even through the 1980s it was as you said the “posh” who had dishwashers but by 2000 everyone felt they should have them.

          What a team you and your hubby make. It’s good to hear about couples who still share kitchen chores.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, and our kitchen is not that big we can just about manage to wash and wipe the pots together,, But if we are cooking.. Well you heard the old saying too many cooks spoil the broth.. Well our rule is one cooking is enough and the other is banned until called.. LOL.. It works a treat and stops any veggies being thrown,, LOL 🙂

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          • I love it! I enjoy having a group of people working together in the kitchen but there are times I enjoy the mindfulness of being alone with my kitchen chores. I think you would be shocked to see the size of some of the kitchens in newer homes today in the US. Some are larger than my entire first floor!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I have watched plenty of home shows from the UK and am shocked by how small your homes are. I laugh at your “single” and “double” bedrooms. You can’t find houses here with rooms that small.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes they are shoe boxes and the more they can cram into a new housing estate the better for those pockets of profit.. Gardens here now are postage stamp size too.. So we are lucky our home was built in the 60’s when gardens were a decent size. 🙂

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  6. I couldn’t agree more Lois, and thanks for writing about it! The more things we have, the more stressed we are, without a doubt.

    I think many people are happier with less – but most of the world has bought into the concept of consumerism. As long as our definition of “success” stays what it is, instead of success equalling happiness, we’ll have these problems.

    I love my dishwasher! I wait till it’s full to run it so it doesn’t get used every day. So hubby and I do hand-washing to keep us going (coffee cups etc) but 6 plates and bowls are plenty for a couple of days. That machine is one luxury I really appreciate! But if it breaks, well, I’ll hand-wash till it’s fixed. No big deal.

    As you so rightly say. there’s huge freedom in not being attached to “things”.

    Like

    • Hi Clare, I fear I am becoming that old person who longed for the olden days. Having a dishwasher is nice when I have a lot of dishes but we think we need so many things then stress over the repairs and upkeep.

      If only we could escape this consumerist mentality I think we would be much happier and have a fuller wallet too.

      Like

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