On dishwasher duty and delayed gratification


There is something so satisfying about emptying the dishwasher. Don’t you think? There’s the little triumph of putting things in their proper place, of restoring order to kitchen shelves, of seeing a set of perfectly stacked plates. A newly emptied dishwasher can make my heart sing. But you know what doesn’t?


Tupperware.


I dread Tupperware. So often I open the dishwasher door, the drying cycle having just ended, greeted by a gust of warm, wet air. As I pull out those racks laden with sparking dishes, I watch as pools of stubborn, settled water jostle in the grooves of plastic containers. Sometimes I’ll angrily cast the wet outliers aside, relegating them to the counter to dry, only to find that: they don’t. Hours later, they are as every bit as wet as they first were. In fact, they seem to be producing water. And what’s more, once they do get around to drying (as in, when I throw in the towel—or rather, use the towel), their rightful places in the cabinet don’t even exist. It’s always in disarray. Even when I make a concerted effort to strategize and organize the mess, chaos returns. It’s simply inevitable, a law of nature. Tupperware is the worst.


Which is why, whenever I do come to a clean dishwasher, I head straight for the bottom rack. It’s clearly the best. Plates first, big then little, maybe the occasional bowl that couldn’t fit on top. Then the utensils, equally satisfying. First sharp knives, followed by butter, then tall and short forks and spoons, respectively. Then glasses and cups, mugs and more bowls. And then, again, I’m left with the worst. What is a perfectly enjoyable, even energizing, task, ends on a sour note time and time again. I bring it upon myself, really.


Why? Why am I stuck in this vicious cycle? Because I haven’t mastered the art of delayed gratification. It’s finishing the broccoli before having a brownie. It’s collapsing into bed with an irresistible book with a face that is washed and teeth that are brushed. It’s completing the blog post before scrolling through Facebook. (Ahem.) But I want instant gratification. I want comfort, and enjoyment, and indulgence. Forget kinetic energy, I want to rest.


But deep down? I do want that enduring reward, the one that comes later. It’s far superior, I know. And all it takes is a minor death to self, a no to procrastination and a yes to pain, however slight, for the sake of something great. For, as Pope Emeritus Benedict said, You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. So, delayed gratification it is. One Tupperware at a time.


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