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Life lessons from my Kenmore. Part 1.

This morning I was emptying the dishwasher, and I started, as I always do, with the dinner plates. That is my ritual: dinner plates, smaller plates, cereal bowls, silverware (I hate that facet of the job for some reason; I'd love to subcontract out the silverware component, certainly the part where you're putting all the like items in their respective places in that plastic tray), miscellaneous geegaws (strainers, salad mixers and such), and then I finish up with glasses. When I reached the glasses today I realized I'd missed a dinner plate. It was standing right there in the front of the bin and I hadn't noticed it. If you'd asked me up to that moment whether there could be a dinner plate left in that dishwasher, I would've sworn that there wasn't; couldn't be. Yet there it was, in all its dinner-platey glory. This is a surprisingly common foible in the close personal relationship between me and my dishwasher: I'll think I've put away one entire category of items, then later, usually only towards the very end, do I realize that I missed one. Sometimes two. How does this happen? Especially when you're making a conscious effort to locate and organize items by category and you're working in a confined space like a dishwasher bin, how do you miss things that would seem...unmissable? (It ain't exactly like an Easter egg hunt out on the White House lawn, yanno?) There are, of course, more mystical/metaphysical interpretations having to do with trees and forests. How do I really know that the dinner plate was there before I saw it? Maybe it had just...appeared? We'll leave such alternate explanations in abeyance for now, or maybe entrust them to the Rhonda Byrnes of the world. You wonder, or at least I do, how many other areas of life there are where this same phenomenon applies. You think you've got a situation peggedyou'd swear you'd taken into account every variable, weighed all the facts there are to be weighedbut in truth you've missed something, perhaps even something big and relatively important: the macro version of a dinner plate in a dishwasher. (Remember those tedious analogies from the SATs? "A dinner plate is to service for eight like _____ is to life.") And here's the thing: In the case of a dishwasher, the error is going to be discovered in time, likely quite soon. The appliance isn't going anywhere. You'd assume that at worst, when it got to the point where the plate was the very last thing in the machine, I'd notice it then. And even if I didn't, maybe Kathy would open the dishwasher to put in some dishes from breakfast and say, "There's a dinner plate in here. Is it clean or dirty?" But what about situations that are transient, evolutionary, mercurial, mobile? Situations that come and go? If some deeply thinking repairman-philosopher intent on making a grand cosmic point had snuck into my kitchen this morning and removed that dishwasher before I made my discovery, then bet me $10,000 about the possible existence of a renegade plate, I would've made the bet. And if that repairman smiled and told me I was wrong, I'd insist he or she was lying. I simply would not believe it. There were no more dinner plates in that damned dishwasher! Uh-huh. ...To be continued...

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