Post # 132 KP Duty

June 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 132 KP Duty

For those who haven’t been in the military, or raised by parents in the military, or exposed to military life through television or the movies, KP stands for Kitchen Patrol.  It entails cooking and cleaning.  I’ve been on KP for as long as I can remember.  When I was tall enough to reach the sink, I was drying the dishes that my older sister was washing.  That was our chore in the household.  We both hated it.  Somehow, over time, she was left out of the equation and I was doing dishes by myself.  And that evolved into cleaning the whole kitchen.

Of all the household tasks, doing dishes is the one I hate most.  People have tried to talk me out of hating it, but it never works.  One woman said she liked how clean her nails were when she was done.  Another person talked about how his kitchen sparkled when it was clean, and how there was room to cook complicated meals when all the counter tops were empty.  To me, it was just an exercise in futility since the dishes were just going to get dirty again.  My dad, like clockwork, would always get something to eat exactly thirty minutes after I’d cleaned the kitchen.  EVERY NIGHT!  And it wouldn’t be just a simple bowl of ice cream.  He’d mess up at least three plates, a bowl, a glass, and enough cutlery for the entire family to fix whatever he was going to have.  I could count on having to clean things up twice every night.  I tried waiting until he was done with his second feeding, but he would hold off, thinking he’d be getting in my way until I had to get the kitchen clean because I had other things to do.  Then his countdown timer went into action, and thirty minutes later . . . .

When I was on my own, it got a little better.  But it was still harsh looking at the clean dishes knowing that in a few hours, they were going to be dirty again.  I started using paper plates and plastic utensils since they were throw away, but I found myself rinsing off the plastic utensils and looking for bargains on plastic formed plates so I could reuse them, so I gave up.

Of course, now I have a more philosophical attitude about it.  It’s one of those jobs that has to get done so I do it.  My family would love to help me, and offer constantly, but I nearly always turn them down.  It was hard to explain until a recent incident.  I had run a load of dishes in the dishwasher.  (A wonderful device, by the way, and I haven’t been without one in decades.)  I typically load and run the dishwasher in the evening and I set it on the heaviest duty cycle possible to make sure the dishes get clean with no residue.  So it takes a couple of hours to run.  I’m usually either writing or in bed by the time it finishes, so I unload everything in the morning sometime.  One day, I was a little later than usual, and when I opened the dishwasher, I noted that the lights were set as normal, and the door had already been opened.  I don’t have an eidetic memory, but I do tend to remember patterns and shapes pretty well, and the dishes inside had been moved.  When I asked around, I found out that dirty dishes had been put in with the clean ones.  When I queried further, although the dirty bowls, glasses, etc. could easily be identified, the dirty cutlery could not.  I ran the load again.  Then I asked everyone in the house to please not put dishes into the dishwasher, that I would take care of it.  Everyone agreed, and I was happy until I heard the dishwasher stop and went to unload it only to watch the FiL place a dirty glass and bowl into it spilling dirty rinse water over the clean dishes!  I loudly asked him what he was doing.

“Helping out!” he said with a grin.

“By putting dirty dishes into the clean ones?  We just talked about that!  It’s a case of too many cooks.  Stop doing it.  Those are clean dishes that you’ve just made dirty.”

“Well, I can take out the ones I just put in there.”

“You can’t take out the dirty rinse water that spilled over the clean dishes.  Just let me do it.  Leave it alone.”

Amid chagrined agreement, he watched as I set the dishwasher to run again (!), the same set of dishes getting washed for the third time in two days.  I carefully listened for the beeps and as soon as the dishwasher was done, I opened the door to let the steam out and let them cool, then put all the dishes away.  Then I went to the outside fridge to get something for dinner and walked back into the kitchen to find FiL putting another glass into the dishwasher!

“What did we just talk about?” I exclaimed in exasperation.

“Oh, I know, but it was empty.  I saw you empty it.”

“It doesn’t matter.  If I can’t count on you to follow a simple request that you just agreed to, I can’t have any confidence in knowing whether the dishes are clean or you accidentally put something else in there.  Too many cooks, we talked about it.”

“Okay, I’ll just leave them in the sink for you.”

“Thank you.  It only takes me a couple of minutes to load to the dishwasher and few dishes in the sink aren’t going to upset me.  Not knowing if the dishes are clean or not will upset me.”

No one has touched the dishwasher since then.  And I’m back on permanent KP duty.  But at least I know the dishes are clean and unsullied.

You know, this post started out being about how to take care of common cleaning problems.  Oh well, maybe next time.


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