RSS Feed

The Dishwasher Debacle

Out of nowhere, sometime in May, our dishwasher stopped washing the dishes. Mom called a repairman, and when he looked the machine over, he said that what we’d been told was a fairly new dishwasher (when we moved in two years ago), was actually on its last legs. But, he could replace a few bits and pieces and give us another year of use, if we wanted. Mom wasn’t sure what to do. Should we buy a whole new dishwasher, or squeeze out another year with this one? The decision was made when he told her that the fee for the diagnosis of the dishwasher would be put towards the cost of repair, if we did the repair. Otherwise we’d be out that money, plus all of the costs that would come with a new dishwasher.

What Mom didn’t tell me, because she didn’t know, was that it would end up taking three or four weeks before the new parts even arrived, and only then would we be able to make an appointment to have the repairman back to fix the dishwasher.

I’d forgotten all about drying racks, and how water pools on plates and bowls when they dry right side up on the counter. I’d forgotten how much I hate washing dishes, and how leaning over the sink makes my back feel like it’s being stabbed with cleavers. And I’d forgotten how much panic I can feel about a strange man coming into the apartment.

I don’t actually remember the repairman’s first visit. I don’t know if I slept through it, or if I was away from home when he came. I just know that I would have done anything to avoid it.

We finally heard back from the repair company that the missing parts had been located and the repairman would be coming to fix the dishwasher “sometime after one o’clock in the afternoon.” When we got the call that he would definitely be there by 2:30 PM, I thought that was pretty good, as these things go. But he didn’t arrive until 5:30 PM, and by then my anxiety had transformed into a strong belief that the world was ending, and I just had to sit there and wait for it to happen.

“Why do we have our leashes on indoors?”

There was drama about where he would park his van, and while Mom went out to move our car so that he could use our parking spot, I corralled the girls into my room and closed the door. And then the sky went dark and the rains came, and then the thunder. I wish I were being melodramatic here, but no. It felt like the apocalypse to me, and to the girls too, well, mostly Cricket. I couldn’t hear the dishwasher repair guy’s arrival over Cricket’s barking.

“Why are you letting the mailman IN THE HOUSE?!!!!!”

I picked the girls up one at a time and put them on my bed, hoping that would calm them down somewhat. And calm me too. But Cricket stood on my legs and then paced across the bed. Her eyes were shiny and she couldn’t breathe without rasping. When Butterfly ran down her doggy steps to guard the door of my room, Cricket jumped off the bed to follow her, and then they scratched at the door together, and restarted their barking duet.

They were NOT this calm.

They were NOT this calm.

I attempted to intervene five or six more times before I gave up on trying to calm them down. The fact is, I was in no real position to calm anyone. My brain felt like it was stuck in a Panini press; I was sick to my stomach, and dizzy and frightened; and I couldn’t talk myself out of my fear. All I could do was to make myself feel guilty for being such a baby and for leaving Mom to manage on her own. Guilt, I can do.

At some point, Mom slipped chicken treats under my door to quiet the girls down and, while Butterfly actually rested in front of the door for a few minutes to wait for more treats to appear, Cricket could not calm down.

Butterfly, on her way back to the door for treats.

Butterfly, looking for treats.

Then the power went out, not from the storm, but because the dishwasher guy was testing out the fuse box to see which fuses went with which appliances. Mom had tried to warn me, but couldn’t make herself heard over the barking, and couldn’t risk opening my door lest Cricket run out and chew on the repair man.

After the power came back on, there was a big crack of thunder, and a rush of rain outside the window, and Cricket stood on the rug next to my bed, stared into my eyes, and peed. This was not like her at all, at least the peeing part anyway.

When I peered out the window to check on the rain, I saw that the repair man was leaving the parking lot, and I gratefully let the girls out of my room. They checked the rest of the apartment for leftover signs of repair man and once they were satisfied that he was really gone, it was time for more treats, and pee removal spray for my rug, and a trip outside to walk, very quickly, in the rain.

“Where’d he go?”

We had survived. And the dishwasher worked again. And a crazed maniac had not killed my mother while I hid in my bedroom. But, I was still shaky, and so was Cricket. I didn’t feel relieved as much as exhausted by the whole ordeal. I worry that pretty soon something else is going to break and we’ll have to go through the whole drama again, and maybe Mom won’t be available to take care of it.

I don’t know what I’ll do in that case. Maybe Butterfly could talk to the repairman for me?

“I don’t think so, Mommy.”

Advertisements

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

83 responses »

  1. Trauma! Here is a small suggestion if and when you feel you can attempt it (it’s what I do with the girl chihuahua when strangers (to HER everyone but me at this point) come over or I’m to see someone in my house. I put her in the master bathroom and close the door. She hasn’t peed aggressively or from fear (which is what I suspect Cricket did) , then I close the door to the master bedroom. Through two layers of doors and space there is barely any noise from chihuahua AND she is not wound up by trying to protect me (which might account for why your girls were so uptight and kept barking) . It sounds like you have a difficult time with strangers in the house, so maybe try going in another room from your dogs next time and see if they don’t calm down. They’ll still bark, but they might not have the stress? I don’t know. It’s hardly a kind solution (to me) because my ‘daughter’ as it were is shut away. My ‘daughter’ tends to bite though. I can hold her (yapping and clawing at me to put her down, NOW!) and let her see and smell the ‘intruder’ but even if she’s calm while I’m visiting with whomever it is, she’ll try to run after them and nip their ankles as they leave. Nine times out of ten. So now it’s the bathroom for her. I put some water in there for her, and a snuggle throw that she’s used to lying on, and she doesn’t seem to get as stressed. Now I don’t know your situation and wouldn’t presume to say that my way is the best. It may not work for you at all. And I HATE it when they promise to be there at a certain time and then show up 3-4 hours late or not at all. I want to bite them in that case myself! Feel better. You aren’t alone in your dealing with this situation in this way and you are obviously doing the best you can, so be kind to yourself about it. And for now your mother IS there, so you really don’t have to deal with it at all if you don’t want to. Here’s to a better tomorrow without dishwasher repairmen and thunderstorms!

    Reply
    • I think if we could build something like a dog-sized hamster trial for Cricket, that might work out, plus some doggy Xanax and a bag full of chicken treats. And then I’ll go into my room with the chocolate cake and we’ll all be fine.

      Reply
  2. goodness, nightmare! I know how Cricket felt.

    Reply
  3. I think Cricket would be the one to handle the situation. She would have those repairmen in and out in no time flat. And they had better fix it right the first time! What an ordeal, Rachel. My dogs never liked strangers in the house either, and everyone was a stranger….

    Reply
  4. No wonder you were stressed to the nines. I remember when we had Tuck, our special Beagle, keeping him away from strangers was very stressful, he would howl, pace, scratch and throw himself against the door because he wanted to eat them. I hope your dishwasher and everything else stays in perfect condition. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Ah, yes. The dishwasher decided to go AWOL. Ours did that and we didn’t replace it. I was pretty cranky and feeling put upon at first, but I’m used to it. When we have company, I put out pretty paper plates and disposable forks and knife.

    Reply
  6. Who needs a dishwasher? Kaci and Kali are available and will work for table scraps and sauce. No repairman invasion necessary.

    Reply
  7. Glad you all survived the adventure! (I have a dishwasher but sometimes I just put my headphones on and sing my way washing through all my piles of dishes lol) 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  8. Wow, what a hassle for all of you! If you ever have to do this on your own, you might think if you have a friend who could deal with it for you and let you leave the apartment (or go in the other room with the dogs).

    Nancy

    Reply
  9. Talk about trauma! What a nightmare for all three of you. I am so glad you survived it all and that the stranger had gone. Fortunately this wont happen here since my good wife already has a functioning dishwasher – it’s called “ME”

    Reply
  10. My mommy was laughing so hard from reading your post. She said I am worse than Butterfly and Cricket together when it comes to strangers coming into my house. I get so upset I need a Valium to calm me down but Mommy won’t give me one. I hate strangers.

    Love
    Ali

    Reply
  11. Have you tried lavender essential oils or Bach’s Remedies? I’ve used both and from experience, it can make a difference but them need to used before the pups redline to be truly effective. Fingers and paws crossed nothing else requires repair. Repairs are the pits, with or without upset pups. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Wow that sounds like a terrifying ordeal for all three of you. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Unfortunately with everything relying on technology and electronics today, there’s no getting around having to have repairmen in the house sometimes. I hope your next experience is better.

    Reply
  13. I hate when repair people have to come in also. In the past 2 years I have had my windows replaced, new furnace put in , new hot water heater put in, a plumber 2 x’s,Propane repair guy,all the rest of the stuff to be done i did myself. Midnight and BabyGirl go into attack mode and I have to crate them because they are not small and are very over protective of me. The bark the whole time and have gotten the bird to bark with them. Now they have created the attack bird lol. She gets put back in her cage also. Most of the time when I tell her to go in she does. She is good like that. The cat is the only one that behaves can you believe that?It takes me a little bit to recover after all the stress. I notice I don’t bounce back like I use to.

    Reply
    • I wonder if your cat could come over and give Cricket some calmness lessons. When I used to put her in her crate she would climb up the sides and try to topple the whole thing.

      Reply
      • My cat has to put up with 2 dogs and a bird that tease her. She is the model for coolness. But when she’s had enough she will tease them and get them in the dog house lol

  14. I quite like washing and drying dishes – and mugs, knives etc etc. But then I make a game of it. Which plastic cover would look sci fi balanced on top of which mug? Which mug’s colour matches that bowl?

    Given the repairman was accompanied by storm, lightning and thunder, I’m not surprised you were a bit concerned.

    Reply
  15. Anxiety attacks are terrifying, and I am grateful that I have only had a few, and those were because I was in a crowd and couldn’t see the exit. A plastic spider (another story) nearly gave me a heart attack, and in so doing actually did me a favour.
    I had a dishwasher in a Timeshare apartment thirty odd years ago. I never used it. Here on the boat, we haven’t room for one, and have to literally wash and dry in unison as the drainer holds 2 plates and 2 forks at most at anyone time. Oh well, helps keep it all tidy I suppose!

    Reply
  16. I just love your little doggies! So cute!

    Reply
  17. What a crazy scenario- I got nervous just reading it! Glad all calm has been restored including a working dishwasher!!

    Reply
  18. Hm…so many thoughts, so few good ideas, but here goes. (1) How do you feel about xanax? (For you, not pups) (2) Add one Big Dog to your family (little dogs will still be freaked out – but so will repairman who will be on time from then on (or refuse to come back). (3) How do you feel about xanax?

    Reply
    • I like the idea of the big dog (Xanax puts me to sleep), but Mom has given me a big fat no on that, for now. Maybe I could get Cricket and Butterfly to wear a big dog costume together?

      Reply
  19. Unfortunately I know how you feel. Your mother won’t be around forever so you will need to deal with these things in the future. Try for little successes first before attempting larger scale events. For example, you just open the door and greet the repairman and then hand it over to your mother and go back to your room. You can do it!

    Reply
  20. I know what you mean; it is uncomfortable to have a stranger in the house to do repair work. My dogs used to bark too but now they just lay on their beds and sleep or get in the repairman’s way. They can tell the good guys from the bad so it is always reassuring when they want to hang out with the repairman but pretty annoying for the guy trying to do the work.

    Reply
  21. My cat Custer was always eager to give repairmen, plumbers, etc. all the help he could–by climber onto their backs, sniffing their tools, and closely inspecting the machinery. I can’t say they all appreciated it.

    Reply
  22. I don’t mind in the slightest when plumbers, electricians and the link come to my house. I quite happily let my wife deal with them while I hide in the bedroom, put in my earplugs and read my well-thumbed copy of Dale Carnegie.

    Reply
  23. Think I must have meant “the like” there. It’s the earplugs. They interfere with my eyesight.

    Reply
  24. I know that end-of-the-world feeling when machines break down – I hate having people in to repair things as well. Pearl is terrified of strange men coming to the house and hides in her panic corner in my bedroom. I’ve had to install her bed there so she doesn’t make a hideout with my clothes!

    Reply
  25. A lot of times I find it difficult to face things for myself, but when I know what I am doing is to help another person, I can get over my anxiety. Some day, your Mom might need your help, and I bet you will find that you will the strength to do what is necessary. I hope that you have that good feeling soon. I bet your little girls will feel more relaxed, too! : – )

    Reply
  26. For some tough circumstances, I went through social anxiety for a short period of time years ago. The only thing that really helped me was meditation classes where they taught breathing technics and yoga. Relax, close your eyes and breath. 🙂

    Reply
  27. Mom has noticed she is very anxious and antsy whenever anyone “strange” comes over to the house, too. Of course,it doesn’t help that she has to hold me down from jumping on said person and licking them half to death. I’m glad you lived through this, and had the pee spray handy. Woof!

    Reply
  28. It’s such a nuisance when kitchen appliances break down. I’m dreading the demise of our sixteen year old refrigerator… I can imagine Chicki being upset when strangers step inside.

    Reply
  29. Oh my – things should never break. That would make life so much easier – Your friends at DogDaz Zoo

    Reply
  30. I really feel for you, and don’t worry I have gone through similar traumatic experiences with our dogs over the years. As a matter of fact I suffer from stray dog syndrome which was caused from walking our dearly departed day after day. Now hubs walks Ben mostly.

    Reply
  31. I was in my 50s before I would contemplate having a dishwasher. Wouldn’t be without one now.

    Reply
  32. Lol.. Dishwasher alert ! 🙂

    Reply
  33. I am struck by the bravery you showed in sharing your fears on the page. It shows that you have the ability to overcome this, you’ve already stolen its power by letting yourself be vulnerable. It is the same honesty that I am trying to achieve in my own work. You go, girl.

    Reply
  34. My Celia is also terrified of unknown people that come to the house – I can only imagine that she thinks they will take her away, like she has been presumably many times before. Fear doesn’t have to be rational to be real. Sounds like a traumatic experience for all of you.

    Reply
  35. My Vizsla is not dealing with stranger danger well at all. He’s getting better with people in the yard but when they come to the door..YIKES

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: