I Hate It When Things Don’t Work

Especially when I have no idea how to make those things work. The car, for example. The computer, often. The dishwasher.

Oh, yes. The dishwasher. We got a new one in February, and for all I know, it may never have worked properly.

The first week we had it, I used the “Soak and Wash” cycle. It’s a 7 hour cycle, where the washer fills up (along with your caked-on-food dishes, pots, pans, etc), waits for several hours, then drains and begins a wash cycle. For those after-holiday, big-meal, sat-around-for-awhile items.

I tried out the 1-hour wash cycle. It didn’t seem to wash all that well, at least not for the sorts of things I had put in, so I’ve been using the “Normal” cycle pretty much most of the time since then.

(And, after really reading the instruction guide, turns out that the 1-hour cycle uses more than twice the amount of water as the Normal cycle. The Normal cycle runs longer, but uses less water and is therefore better, at least from a water-usage standpoint.)

img_1988The Normal cycle runs for 2 hours and 26 minutes, as on the digital display shown here. Here’s what would sometimes happen: I would fill up the dishwasher, put in the soap, run the water into the sink until it got hot (so nice, hot water would right away rush into the dishwasher when I pressed “Start”), and then press “Normal.” I’d check the kitchen clock and figure out when then dishes would be done so I could remove them. So, starting at 1:30? Then it should be done at about 4:00. Right? But, when I went in at 4:00, there would still be about an hour left on the wash time. And I would wonder if I added right. Or was I wrong about the time I started the thing.

Some days, many days, it didn’t matter or I didn’t pay attention. So I didn’t really notice if there was a time discrepancy. Sometimes I left the house and couldn’t have told you when the thing stopped. But it happened enough that I began to wonder if it wasn’t me who wasn’t operating at peak.

And if something was wrong, I didn’t want to wait until the warranty ran out before investigating and discovering a problem. So earlier this week, I sat down to watch my dishwasher. On Monday morning, I started the dishwasher on Normal, and the time of 2:26 popped up. I sat down and watched the digital timer as it counted down. 2:25. 2:24. 2:23. 2:22.

I took this the next day, and I needed some time to locate my phone, which, much to the dismay of my kids, is *not* always attached to my person. It took me nine minutes to find it.

I took this the next day, and I didn’t have my phone and needed some time to locate it, which, much to the dismay of my sons, is *not* always attached to my person. It took me nine minutes to find it.

And then. Suddenly the sound of the swishing water in the dishwasher halted. The time display went blank for a moment. Then a little rectangle made up of dashed lines came up and rotated a couple of times, and BLAM. The time reset to 3:28, and the dishwasher started up again.


I dug out the warranty papers, the instruction book, the installation information, and the sales receipt. And phoned the Westinghouse folks.

After a rather lengthy wait, I got Robert of Westinghouse. Robert needed to know my name and my address and my phone number. He needed the date of purchase and the model number and serial number. There were a variety of numbers on the sales receipt and only one of them satisfied Robert. “I don’t know what other numbers there could be, Robert,” I said. He told me where to look in the dishwasher itself, which was, of course, still running. But I went and opened it up and explained to Robert that I would have to wait a moment until the steam dissipated and stopped fogging up my glasses. I located a number that Robert liked and we went on.

I explained the timer problem, and Robert looked on his “Trouble-Shooting” list. (I also had looked at my own “Trouble-Shooting” list on my instruction sheet, but could not find anything helpful. Robert has a more extensive list, however.)

“Here’s what I think is happening,” he said. Apparently, my dishwasher is so smart, that it can sense when my dishes are extra dirty. If that’s how the dishwasher feels, then it will automatically reset itself to the more lengthy time.

“What you could try,” he went on, “is to run a light load, and see if that makes a difference.”

“Robert,” I said, and not all that happily, “there are two senior adults in this house, and that’s all. Many of our dishwasher loads are light loads.”

“Well,” said Robert, “based on the information you gave me, that’s the suggestion I have. Try it, and if it doesn’t work, you can call back tomorrow.”

So, from Robert, I got his name and all the other numbers (ticket number, some other number) that I would need to finish this conversation the next day. I made dinner. I soaked every single eating utensil, plate, glass, and food preparation item. The next day I put everything in the dishwasher and started it, so that it could clean a load of basically clean dishes. It ran from 2:26 down to 2:22, stopped, reset itself for 3:28, and started up again.

I went straight to the phone.

Morning may be a better time to call than afternoon. And, Tuesday may be a better day than Monday for a reason. Anyway, I got a helpful young lady, who listened to me describe the problem and what I’d done, as per Robert’s suggestion, and she said would I like her to schedule a service call and I said, “Yes, please.”

My instructions said that I should have my proof of purchase and receipt to show the repairman, but I got out everything and had it ready. The repair guy came at about 11:00. I explained what I had done to follow Robert’s advice and how it hadn’t made a difference. And he went to work.

img_2101In about 30 minutes, he called me back to the kitchen. “First of all,” he said, “there was a piece of plastic lying on the sensor.” He showed me where the sensor is (on the bottom, under a covered drain), and how to check it, if such a thing happened again. And, he reset everything to factory specifications, and it seemed to be running fine, now. And he explained, rather the way that Robert did, how the dishwasher will sometimes run longer than the original time that was set. “The sensor senses when the water is still dirty, instead of clean. So, it will keep running until the drain water is clear, because then the dishes are clean.”

So, I have a dishwasher that’s smart. It seems like a good idea, but maybe just a little bit creepy. I guess as long as it doesn’t start talking to me about how dirty my dishes are …


You are my God, and I give You thanks; You are my God, and I praise You.
Psalm 118:28 (The Voice)


I was walking through Target last week and found a gratitude journal, titled OKAY FINE, I’M GRATEFUL. It’s a facetious sort of thing that’s designed to remind folks to actually be grateful. And I am reminded to be grateful for all that I have, which is pretty extensive. I have a safe place to live, I have a car to drive wherever and whenever I need to go, I have enough to eat every day, and Peter is coming this weekend. That’s the short list. There’s more and more and more and more (including a machine that washes my dishes and is smart enough to know when they are clean). I am grateful, God. I am grateful.



One Response to “I Hate It When Things Don’t Work”

  1. Suzy Henson

    You are good! Loved your visit today & having Peter with his delightful imagination & willingness to entertain himself in such a joyful way! What a delight he is and the very best reason for your gratitude! Love you all, Suzy


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