Thoughts of an Eaten Sun

through the mind of kyle tolle

Thoughts on Manual Chores

I’ve never washed clothes by hand or hung them out to dry. But I have often washed dishes by hand.

I started doing my own laundry when I was, what, 14 or 15? It’s a good way to learn to think ahead. You need clothes for tomorrow, so you have to plan for that tonight. You have to also be cognizant of when other people do their laundry. It’s a way to become a little more independent and not have your parents do everything for you, even though you live in their household. It was like a right of passage. A way to show I was growing into my own.

But what about dishes? We had a dish washer, and I expect that did most of the dishes around the house. We’d have a chore to unload a clean dishwasher. But it was certainly not the same as doing laundry. It’s not as feasible to save up just your dishes and wash them alone. So they all get done together. Maybe once every day or two. Our dishwasher made a decent bit of noise, but it was always something that one could tune out. Sure, we did some by hand, but not all the time. And I’m sure my mom did most of those dishes.

When I went to college and lived in the dorms, I’d wash used dishes in the bathroom sinks. And let them air dry. When I lived off campus, I’d also do dishes by hand. No dishwasher there either. More often than not, I’d wash them right after I used them. Living with 6 other guys means there’s not room for everyone to just pile up their dishes. Heck, maybe we did have a dishwasher, but I don’t recall using it. When I lived with just one roommate, we could let the dishes stack up a bit, but you’re trying not to be “that guy” who lets things get nasty. Again, all by hand.

Then I moved out to Colorado Springs and had an apartment to my self. I had a dishwasher and would use it periodically, but more often than not, I would still wash them by hand. If I got really lazy and the dishes piled up, or I used a lot of dishes in a given day, I would just run them through the machine.

I felt I was too lazy if I didn’t try to do them mostly by hand. And also wasteful of water and electricity.

Even now, when I’m back in my own apartment and I have a dishwasher to freely use, I’ve mostly been using it as a drying rack for dishes I’ve hand washed. Over the past week or so, I’ve been using it more often. Though I still feel a sort of guilt when I do. And it’s not something I use a majority of the time.

In fact, I was recently chatting with coworkers and mentioned how I used my dishwasher as a drying rack since I normally did dishes by hand. It was like a way to brag. (How lame, right?)

There are times when washing dishes is a nice way to zone out for a bit. Take my mind off other things. And it doesn’t take eons to wash things, as long as you do them each day.

But I’m curious about why I feel lazy or guilty for not hand washing dishes. Why would I only feel this way about dishes and not something else like washing and drying clothes?

Is it just because I’ve never washed or dried clothes without the machines? I have zero idea how you would do that and actually get the clothes clean. I wouldn’t consider myself lazy for using the washer and dryer. In fact, it doesn’t really seem like there’s any other way.

But the dishes are something I’ve done by hand a lot, and I know I can do it. In this case the idea of letting a machine do it so I don’t have to just feels strange.

I suppose technology does allow us to be more selective about what we will spend our time doing and what we’ll let the machines do. There’s nothing inherently good about doing the dishes by hand, just like there’s nothing inherently wrong with using the clothes washer and dryer.

It’s similar to how we’ve decided to let machines be our method of transport instead of relying completely on animals or our own feet.

Instead of doing dishes, I could be reading or writing or watching something on Netflix. Or, instead of doing any of those, I can take some time out and do a mindless chore like washing dishes. Both activities have their time and place.

It’s just very curious that I’d feel like I should wash dishes by hand, but I’d never think that about washing my clothes. Behaviors and thoughts are strange.

I’ll work to realize when I feel guilty/lazy and try to not let it linger. I’m cool about letting the machines do some of my work. Guilt isn’t doing me any good; it’s just another stressor. And I certainly don’t feel we need any more stress added to our lives.

Have you ever felt anything like this?